Some basic steps to reduce winter dampness and mold in a cabin interior when your boat is wrapped up for winter storage

boat winterizationI decided to offer some tips on how to winterize a boat cabin interior, because I would never claim to be an expert in winterizing engines. That’s my husband’s job… he comes down the last weekend with cases of pink and gets to work winterizing the water tank, heads, air conditioning and engines. Meanwhile, I am busy inside the cabin making sure the interior of the boat is prepared for winter.

A boat cabin interior can get damp from winter condensation and greet you with a musty, moldy surprise in the spring. Winterizing your boat cabin involves removing anything that can cause moisture, dampness, freeze or create a musty, moldy environment in your boat during winter storage.

Here are some tips – or things to remember at least – when preparing your boat cabin interior for winter storage:

Bag up boat bedding, pillows and clothes for the winter.
First thing I do when preparing the cabin is tear off all the bedding and bag up everything from the master stateroom and the guest stateroom. We don’t leave any extra pillows – even the decorative throw pillows (that are practically useless anyway) get bagged up to go home. And while you are in the staterooms, empty out all the extra clothes in the hanging lockers. Moisture can gather on fabrics from winter condensation, so remove anything that is not sewed onto the boat.

Winterize your boat galley.
Anything that is liquid or could possibly freeze needs to be removed from cabinets. Yes, this includes liquor. We remove any dry food too – its just easier to get it off the boat and start fresh in the spring.

Prep your boat fridge for winter.
Your refrigerator on the boat should be thoroughly cleaned out. Also, try to turn off your refrigerator to fully defrost the freezer before you leave. Any excess moisture should be removed from inside the refrigerator and freezer or it will get moldy. Don’t forget about ice makers or cockpit refrigerators too.

Make sure your boat head(s) are winter ready.
When I clean out the heads I try to remove anything that is liquid. Again, reducing moisture on the boat is key. This includes shampoos, liquid soaps and liquid toiletries. Remove towels and bathmats. I also remove the toilet paper – you want fresh t.p. in the spring anyway.

Set-up dehumidifiers to reduce moisture on boat.
There should be several sources of dehumidifiers or moisure absorbers set up on the boat. Use Starbrite Moisture Absorber Dehumidifier buckets with crystals in several places throughout the cabin. Or if your boat has access to power through the winter, set up a Air Dryer Dehumifier to capture moisture and eliminate mold in the cabin.

Pack up your kid’s toys on the boat.
If you have young kids you likely have a set of toys for use on the boat. Pack up as many of the toys as you can – particularly the books. Not only will this protect the toys, but your kid may also want these toys when your boat is all wrapped up.

Bring the big car your last weekend at the boat.
If you are a boater, chances are you have at least one vehicle that is an SUV or a pick-up truck. Bring it. You’ll need every inch of space for all this stuff you have packed up. If you don’t have a big car, I don’t know how you manage!

Wash, rinse, repeat.
Yes, you’ll be spending the next week (or two) washing all the extra clothes and bedding you brought home. Do it now or you will have to do it in the spring. Your choice. But make a mental note of what you packed away clean and what you saved for the spring. Also, note where you are storing all your boat stuff in the winter. Too many seasons I have forgotten where I put things and end up buying new stuff in the spring.

Finally, take a break and enjoy the “time off” from your boat. But chances are that feeling won’t last long and you’ll be counting down the days ’til spring when you launch your boat again!

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Diane Seltzer

Founder & Editor at My Boat Life
Diane is the founder of as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids She is also active in the boating industry, serving as the marketing director for a marine sunshade product, SureShade, and founder of Marine Marketing Tools, a collaborative site for sharing marine marketing best practices. Diane is also the author of the children's book The Amazing Adventures of Boat Girl.

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