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Get Rid Of Boat Smells Before You Go To Sell It

By Rob Bowman | Posted On Jun 21, 2021
Updated On Mar 23, 2022

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression and when it comes to selling your boat, the first time a potential buyers walks into the salon can quickly be their last. Right now is getting well over 100,000 unique visitors every single month. Those potential boat buyers are looking through the professional photography United invested in to showcase your yacht. The video tour of your boat is being watched over and over again as decisions are being formed as to whether or not an appointment should be made to schedule a showing.

You and your yacht broker have worked hard to make an excellent online impression. But will buyers be turned off when they come to see, or rather smell, your boat in person?

This is a market where you can sell your boat fast and for top dollar. Don't send potential buyers running out of the cockpit holding their noses. Here are six of the worst offenders when it comes to your boat smelling badly and what to do about them.



The first item on the list is a tough one for boaters, particularly during warmer months. Not only are mold and mildew a sign of neglect, but if bad enough, they can also be a health hazard. The pungent smell of mold might be expected near your bilge pumps, but no potential buyer wants to deal with getting rid of mildew in your bedrooms, living areas, or even inside your flybridge if it has an enclosure. Marine surveyors will pick up on this immediately and it may cause your boat to sell at a lower price.



don on your boat

Pet owners love to spend time on the water with their furry friends and we just wrote about the positive aspects of bringing your dog on board your boat. If you're looking to list and sell your boat however, you may want to consider looking for any scratch marks, chewed areas, odors in the carpets, and other goodies your pet may have left behind. Swimming with your dog can be fun, but no one wants that wet dog smell all over their carpet.



If you're looking to sell your sportfishing boat, buyers may expect to find some remnants of scales, blood, and even the smell of dead fish inside your fish box. They can expect your livewell to smell like bait. But if you're spending more than $1 million on a yacht the last thing you and your family want is to spend any time inside the boat with a dead fish smell. If you own a fishing boat and fish often, the interior of your boat will undoubtedly encounter fish at least some point in a trip. Your guests need to use the day head? They're going to track some of that fish smell inside and potential buyers may not want the hassle of getting it cleaned.



For some, there's nothing more relaxing than enjoying a nice cigar while behind the helm of your own boat on the open ocean. And while the smoke may never reach the interior of the yacht, sometimes the smell carries in through people's clothing. If you're a smoker who smokes inside the cabin of their boat, replacing carpets and drapes may be necessary before putting your boat up for sale. Buyers with children especially may skip your boat altogether in their decision process due to smoky smells.



Another culprit of smells on your boat or yacht can be odors coming from the marine head. Scale deposits can often form inside the hoses and holding tank causing a bad odor to emanate throughout the boat. Taking thorough care of this part of your boat can help tremendously with keeping smells at bay, particularly when you go to sell it.



Anyone who has been around boats for a longtime knows that it's tough to avoid the smell of diesel on most larger motor yachts and other vessels that require larger engines. "The big elephant in the room is diesel and exhaust smells," said Captain Jeff Palmer. "I've visited boats before that reeks of diesel in the crew quarters and it immediately turns off the buyer. If it's a vent issue, it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible." Taking care of any fuel leaks, spills, or odors can be crucial when putting your yacht for sale on the brokerage market.


Spend the time to make your boat a pleasing environment that potential buyers can see themselves owning, similar to what you would expect going to buy a home. Many of the same rules apply here that you will find in real estate. Here are some suggestions we have compiled to help you get your boat ready for showings.



First and foremost, find out what is causing a bad smell on your boat and fix it. Whether it's a hatch that is letting in moisture or pet stains in the carpet, take the time and spend the money to make things as new as possible. Not only will this help with a faster sale, but you can potentially receive higher offers if everything is taken care of prior to survey.



United Yacht Sales broker John Blumenthal has sold hundreds of boats in his career and takes the smell of his clients' listings very seriously. "I always recommend to my boating friends and clients to use the GT50 professional-grade plug-in ionic air purifier," he says. "Leave this plugged in any boat for a few hours and you'll come back to absolutely no smells. It works amazingly well." You can find them online by visiting 

John also suggested opening the hatches and allowing your boat to ventilate naturally well in advance of a showing.

air purifier for boat



Keeping your bilges clean of dirt, grime, and mold can ensure that rust, dirt, and bad odors don't begin. "Keeping your bilges clean is perhaps one of the most important routine maintenance items on your list," said Mordy Miltz, longtime boater and Certified Professional Yacht Broker (CPYB) at United. "Any good degreaser like Simple Green, Fabuloso or any other household cleaner is fine to use to ensure any grime, grease or mildew is removed." Mordy recommended letting the degreaser soak in for several minutes before wiping or spraying it out.



Nothing smells worse than a stinky head that is affecting the rest of the interior of the boat. There's also no quicker way to turn off a potential buyer than smelling the head while on a showing. If you're putting your boat on the market, make sure to pump out the holding tanks, flushing them with plenty of fresh water, and then treating both the tank and the bowl with an appropriate product. Rubbing the hoses with a clean, damp cloth can also give you some insight into whether the hoses need to be replaced. If you rub them with the cloth and they smell foul, it may be time to replace them.


United Yacht Sales are expert in listing and selling all kinds of boats from sportfish, to power catamarans, to sailboats, and luxury motor yachts. With over 200 yacht brokers worldwide, our team uses proprietary technology to connect our vast network of team members to help find a buyer for you boat quickly. Our support team is second-to-none in the industry with decades of experience in marketing your listing and making sure it gets closed correctly. Let the team at United Yacht Sales assist you with the sale or purchase of your next boat. Get started today by calling our main headquarters at 1-772-463-3131. We look forward to helping you pursue your boating dreams and plans.

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