ship hull cleaning

Ship hull cleaning is an essential part of boat maintenance. A consistent cleaning routine helps maintain a ship’s integrity while removing the buildup of marine organisms like algae.

Learning how to clean a cruise ship hull and investing in reliable ship hull cleaning equipment can help your business optimize the process and guarantee the long-term durability of your vessels.

But how long does it take to clean a cruise ship, and how can you find the right ship hull cleaning equipment for your fleet?

We know there is a lot to learn regarding industrial cleaning, so we’ve decided to use our 40+ years of experience to create this guide on how to clean a cruise ship hull. We’ll cover everything, including the best ship hull cleaning equipment for the job.

Let’s kick things off by discussing the pitfalls you will encounter if you fail to clean your ship hulls.

Understanding the Hazards of a Dirty Ship Hull

Cleaning your ship’s hull is not solely an aesthetic decision. Without a consistent maintenance routine that includes cleaning, your vessel can be subject to dangerous hazards like biofouling, corrosion, or metal fatigue.

All three hazards can jeopardize your hull’s structural integrity, severely shortening your ship’s lifespan.

Biofouling: Consequences for Marine Life and Ship Efficiency

Biofouling refers to the buildup of algae, microorganisms, or plants beneath the water line of your ship. Their presence on your ship can directly cause structural deficiencies and even have drastic environmental effects.

Biofouling on cruise ship hulls can increase drag, negatively impacting the vessel’s hydrodynamic performance, speed, power performance, and fuel consumption. Also, biofouling can trap moisture against the hull’s metal, accelerating corrosion which leads to structural damage and potentially catastrophic failure.

Since marine organisms attach to your ship’s hull, they may also be inadvertently transported to new ecosystems, becoming invasive and harming local marine life. This could put your vessels under the crosshairs for environmental regulations depending on the waters you operate in.

Corrosion and Metal Fatigue: Threats to Ship Integrity

Corrosion is a natural process that occurs when metal is exposed to seawater and other corrosive elements. Cruise ship hulls are particularly susceptible to corrosion due to their constant exposure to seawater. 

Corrosion can also cause pitting or holes in the hull, allowing water to enter the ship, leading to flooding and other safety hazards.

Metal fatigue goes hand-in-hand with corrosion. It refers to developing cracks and other damage from repeated stress to your hull, including waves and temperature changes.

Metal fatigue can often go unnoticed without a proper inspection cycle in place, but leaving it unchecked puts your ship’s health at risk.

Thankfully, you can ward off biofouling, corrosion, and metal fatigue with the right ship hull cleaning equipment. Let’s dive into our recommended method: pressure washing.

Selecting the Ideal Method for Ship Hull Cleaning: The Advantages of Pressure Washing

Pressure washing businesses have heralded the benefits of the technology for decades on end. Pressure washing uses high-velocity streams of water to clean surfaces, saving you time and energy during the cleaning process.

Pressure washing is also environmentally safe when removing biofouling, compared to harsh chemicals like biocidal coatings, which can harm the local ecosystem. Pressure washing is also significantly faster than remote-operated vehicles, which can take up to 24 hours to clean a hull.

The Science Behind Pressure Washing: How It Works

The science behind pressure washing is relatively simple. Pressure washing uses a high-powered stream of water to blast away dirt, grime, and other contaminants from surfaces. The pressure is created by a motorized pump that pressurizes the water and forces it through a narrow nozzle at high speeds.

The combination of a high-velocity water stream and a narrow nozzle creates a powerful blasting force that easily removes algae, grime, and any other stubborn stains.

Comparing Pressure Washing with Other Cleaning Methods

While several methods exist to clean ship hulls, pressure washing is a clear winner in most circumstances.

Scrubbing exists as a significantly slower alternative to pressure washing. While both methods can ultimately achieve the same result of removing grime and algae, scrubbing is labor-intensive and consuming. Scrubbing may cost you more in labor costs for a single instance of cleaning compared to pressure washing.

Some chemical cleaners, especially biocidal cleaners, are effective at removing tough stains and biofouling buildup. Conversely, these cleaners are incredibly harmful to the environment and also require specialized disposal and handling, making them unwieldy to use. Since pressure washing just uses water and soap, it is a much safer alternative to work with.

Other methods include sandblasting, which is harsher on a ship’s hull than pressure washing, ultrasonic cleaning, which is significantly more expensive; and remote-operated vehicles, which take too long.

One important note is that there may be better options than heavy-duty pressure washing with paint or gel hull finishes, so you will want to ensure you have a lower PSI pressure washer available based on the needs of your vessel.

The Environmental and Economic Benefits of Pressure Washing

Pressure washing is the most efficient and economically viable option for ship owners. Pressure washers San Antonio provide the speediest solution to ship hull cleaning, allowing you to refresh your vessel’s hull quickly.

On the environmental side, pressure washer soap is a much more eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemical cleaners. Cleaning your ship’s hull helps reduce drag and increase speed, which leads to lower fuel consumption and less emissions.

Pressure washer safety is also greater compared to methods like sandblasting or chemical cleaning, as it avoids the release of harmful fumes and can be completed from a safe distance.

The best commercial pressure washers are also economically viable, with a one-time investment and little training required. Learning how to service pressure washers is also quite simple, which additionally helps reduce upkeep costs.

Now that you know the best option for cleaning a ship’s hull, it’s time we provide you with all of our pressure washing tips to help you figure out how to clean a cruise ship hull.

How to Clean a Ship Hull With a Pressure Washer: Fast, Efficient Results With Hotsy

Even though you now know the best way to clean a ship hull, you may still have additional questions, like how to start a pressure washer, how long does it take to clean a cruise ship, or what size pressure washer do I need?

Assessing Your Cleaning Needs: Size, Fouling Type, Frequency

Taking into account the needs of your ship will help you determine the best pressure washer for your needs. This can help you answer the burning question of how long does it take to clean a cruise ship, as your answer will depend based on these factors.

The size of your ship will directly affect the amount of time you spend cleaning. Larger vessels can take hours, but pressure washers help reduce that time to a manageable amount.

Based on the type of biofouling, you may need a different set of pressure washer accessories or pressure ratings. Softer fouling like algae and slime can be removed with low pressure, while hard fouling like barnacles or mussels requires a more intense clean only found in high-PSI pressure washers.

You must also monitor how frequently your ship accumulates biofouling, as frequently used boats require more cleaning. We also recommend consulting with experts in ship hull maintenance to develop a plan that can accurately take the operating conditions of your ship into account.

Selecting the Right Hot Water Commercial Pressure Washer

Thanks to a rock-solid reputation dating back to the 1970s, there is only one brand of industrial ship hull cleaning equipment to consider when shopping. Hotsy has been at the cutting edge of pressure washers and accessories since our founding, and we are proud of our reputation for quality.

Our inventory is chock full of high-quality hot pressure washers for sale or rent that are perfect for any task. You will need to weigh a few factors, like the differences between gas vs electric pressure washers and the setting of PSI for pressure washers.

We recommend gas pressure washers for ship hulls, as they are a better fit for outdoor settings and have more mobility than electric washers, which need to be plugged in.

PSI refers to the pressure of your water stream. We recommend staying under 2000 PSI if you are working with painted or treated hulls, as lower pressure ratings are safer and won’t strip your paint while removing biofouling.

As for the GPM for pressure washers, that figure refers to the gallons per minute of your device. You’ll want to aim for about 2 to 3 gallons per minute for a steady stream of water that isn’t too harsh on your metal.

As a bonus, purchasing a machine with those specifications should also be suitable for pressure washing commercial buildings, including most docks, allowing you to tackle two cleaning tasks simultaneously!

Boost Cleaning Efficacy and Efficiency With Accessories & Detergents at Hotsy

Hotsy also provides the best pressure washer accessories, from pressure washer degreasers to pressure washer parts

For accessories, you’ll want to look no further than Hotsy’s Foam Cannon attachment. It’s easy to use, as it attaches to your pressure washer nozzle and allows your detergent to reach up to 30 feet in distance. It’s an excellent choice for vehicles of all types, but especially ship hulls.

If you’re wondering how to use pressure washer soap and what soap to use for pressure washers, you’ll want to choose a biodegradable option that is safe for use on painted surfaces and metal. 

For cleaning ship hulls, the best soap for pressure washers is the Hotsy Carbon-Ate detergent. Carbon-ate works with hot water and tackles stains and algae without damaging your vessel’s structural integrity.

Pre-cleaning Preparations: Safety and Efficiency Considerations

Before beginning any cleaning work, it is crucial to ensure that all necessary safety equipment is available and in good working order. This includes pressure washing clothing like gloves, goggles, and respirators.

You’ll also want to ensure the area is clear of any hazards that can harm workers or your pressure washing equipment. Be sure to properly train any employees on how to use pressure washers in a safe way to guarantee their safety.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Pressure Washing Your Ship Hull

Once you have gathered your equipment and guaranteed the area’s safety, it’s time to begin cleaning.

  • To start, rinse any loose debris or dirt with a low-pressure nozzle.
  • From there, add in your biodegradable soap or detergent, like Hotsy Carbon-ate, and apply it to the vessel.
  • Let the soap sit on the hull for a few minutes, periodically keeping it wet to ensure a thorough clean.
  • You can use a surface cleaner or water broom attachment to rinse off the soap and scrub the hull, beginning at the waterline and working your way down with long strokes.
  • Let the boat hull dry completely, then apply wax or a protective coating.

Post-Cleaning Maintenance: Protecting Your Cleaned Hull

Keeping your cleaned hull in pristine condition is crucial to the maintenance process. This starts with applying a protective wax or coating to help fend off future buildup.

You’ll want to clean your boat regularly with the help of your pressure washer at a rate of every few weeks, depending on your vessel. Additionally, inspecting your vessel for damage like cracks or chips can help you identify signs of damage before they develop into more significant problems.

Finally, properly store your boat in a dry, covered area when you are not using it to protect it from the elements.

Establishing a Regular Hull Cleaning Schedule

The hull of your ship is reliant on regular upkeep to stay in top condition. You’ll want to establish a plan that adapts to how frequently your vessel is used while also ensuring you aren’t overleveraging your labor towards cleaning and away from other critical aspects of your operation.

Determining the Appropriate Cleaning Frequency for Your Vessel

The frequency of hull cleaning will depend on your operating conditions, such as the type of fouling that accumulates on your boat hull and the water conditions in which you operate.

For example, boats that operate in warm, nutrient-rich waters may need more frequent cleaning than boats that operate in colder, less nutrient-rich waters due to greater biofouling buildup.

Balancing Cleaning Needs with Operational Schedules

Pressure washing is a fast and efficient method of cleaning ship hulls. However, you still want to consider the additional needs of your business to ensure optimal utilization of labor.

Try to plan ahead of time to minimize disruption to your schedule by placing cleaning tasks in low-volume periods. Proper balance allows you to efficiently avoid the downsides of not cleaning your hull, like lower speed, increased fuel consumption, or corrosion.

Parting Thoughts on How to Clean a Cruise Ship Hull

The long-term structural integrity of your ships will be directly affected by your business’s cleaning routine, so it is critical to find the best equipment for the job. Failure to do so can lead to dangerous hazards that damage your boats and the local ecosystems you operate.

Pressure washing is a reliable go-to method for cleaning ship hulls, but where can you find a reliable Hotsy dealer to invest in the future of your business?

Our South Texas pressure washing store has been in business for over 40 years, serving San Antonio, McAllen, New Braunfels, and more cities across the area. We sell and rent hot water pressure washers and pressure washing trailers, along with the accessories you need to keep your vessels in top shape.

Our friendly customer support team has a wealth of experience and knowledge and can answer any questions or even help you craft a cleaning schedule for your business.

You can also check out our blog for everything you need to know about the world of pressure washing, including pressure washing factory floors, warehouse pressure washing, pressure washers to clean concrete, estimates on how much to rent a power washer, tips on renting pressure washers near me, pressure washing chemicals for concrete, and pressure wash oil stain.

Otherwise, our South Texas team is available by phone, email, or at one of our in-person locations in San Antonio and Laredo. If you’re ready to revolutionize how your business maintains ship hulls, a Hotsy pressure exactly what you need, so start shopping today!