How to Remove and Prevent Barnacles on Your Boat

Looking to get private lessons from a licensed Captain?

Struggling to remove barnacles on the bottom of your boat? We’ve got you covered with some tips and tricks. 

You do everything that you are supposed to do to maintain peak performance of your boat, but you still find those annoying barnacles on your hull, trim tabs, and transducer. Luckily, we have a few ideas outlined below to help you get rid of them, and prevent them from growing on your boat. 

What Causes Barnacles to Grow on Your Boat

In order to prevent barnacles from growing on your boat, it is important to understand how they got there in the first place. Lack of use is the main reason for barnacle growth, followed by your location. Warmer water temperatures and areas with stronger current flow are causes for heavier and faster barnacle growth. It is important to remove and prevent barnacle growth otherwise your boat will lose fuel efficiency, overwork your motor, and reduce the effectiveness of your trim tabs and transducers. 

Barnacle Prevention Tips

  1. Use your boat frequently

The first step to preventing barnacle growth is to use your boat frequently. This will always remain the best way to prevent barnacles, and is the most economical. 

On average, barnacles will begin to grow on a boat after sitting for 4-5 days in salt or brackish water. 

  1. Store Your Boat on a Lift

This is obviously not an option for everyone, but if you plan on boating long term and live on the water, a boat lift is a great investment. This will prolong the life of your boat, motor, and other components and prevent the most common issues with boats being kept in saltwater for long periods of time. 

  1. Trailer Your Boat

If you don’t use your boat enough to justify leaving it in a slip or at the dock, you may want to look into the option of trailering your boat. 

If you cannot do any of the prevention tips, then you will definitely have barnacles on your boat if you keep your boat in salt or brackish water. 

Let’s look at how to remove barnacles from your boat. 

How to Remove Barnacles From Your Boat

  1. Hire a Professional Diver 

A common option that we found among many boaters is to hire a professional diver to clean the barnacles off of your boat. 

Average pricing for a boat under 38ft is approximately $125 but will vary by location. Boats larger than 38ft range from $3.25-5 per square foot. 

This service typically includes cleaning barnacles and algae growth from the waterline to the bottom of the keel, trim tabs, outdrives, props, shafts, and anywhere else barnacles might find their way into. 

For areas with heavier barnacle growth, monthly cleanings are recommended to maintain peak fuel efficiency and performance. It will also extend the life of your antifouling paint, if your boat is bottom painted. 

  1. Pull your boat out of the water to clean

If hiring a diver is not in the budget, you can pull your boat out of the water occasionally to clean off the barnacles and algae growth. 

Use a small 2×4 block or plastic scraper to knock off barnacles without damaging your boat and other parts. We suggest not to use metal scrapers because they can damage the hull. 

Power washing right after you pull the boat while the barnacles are still wet is also a tried and true method. 

You can also bring your boat to the local sand bar so the bottom is exposed, and clean it yourself there. 

Just be cautious and wear gloves; barnacle shells are very sharp and will cut you like a razor. They carry bacteria and can easily cause infection. 

It is important to maintain your boat to operate at peak performance. Preventing and removing barnacles from your boat will reduce drag in the water, resulting in better fuel efficiency and overall performance of the motor. It will prolong the life of your boat, and allow you to enjoy boat days with the family without the hassle of expensive repairs. 

Get Rid Of

  • Hire a diver to scrape off
  • Pull the boat and power wash/scrape. Use a small 2×4 block or plastic scrape. Do not use a metal scraper and damage hull.
  • Get sand blasted


  • Use the boat often
  • Store boat on lift
  • Trailer your boat


  • Not using the boat often
  • Location
    • Warmer water temperatures
    • Areas with stronger current

Why Barnacles are Bad

  • Create drag on your boat
  • Reduces fuel efficiency
  • Overworks motor
  • If they attach to the outdrive, can prevent proper water flow to your motore resulting in an overheat
  • Reduce effectiveness of trim tabs 
  • Prevent transducer from working properly

Occur in saltwater and brackish water only – not freshwater 


  • Sharp and can cause infections

Looking to get private lessons from a licensed Captain?

Related Posts
Popular Tags

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe Our Newsletter

Get discounts from our partner brands, news, and local boating news.