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How to Polish a Jet Ski Properly: PWC Detailing Guide [Video]

How to Polish a Jet Ski Properly: PWC Detailing Guide [Video]

How can I make my jet ski shine again? This is a typical question of many vintage jet ski owners.

When a jet ski starts to grow old, it always needs more attention and care. Beyond the mechanical issues, one of the main aesthetic problems is the oxidation of the hull’s surface.

If you want to upgrade your jet ski as well, you can consider repainting it completely. However, this always means more cost and effort, especially if you do the job yourself.

Unlike painting, polishing a jet ski is much easier as well as cheaper, so it’s also much more popular a task.

We, at JetDrift, have gathered all you need to know about polishing and detailing a jet ski!  So now, without further ado, let’s start at the beginning and see how to polish a jet ski properly.

What You Will Need For Polishing a Jet Ski?

How to polish a jet ski properly? To polish a jet ski at home, you don’t need a bunch of professional equipment; just a polishing wheel, however, it’s possible to polish a jet ski by hand. This simple upgrade can extend the beauty and life of the jet ski’s hull when it becomes faded. If your jet ski is in really poor shape, beyond polishing and waxing, you may want to use oxidation remover, or even wet sand to make it shiny again.

Can I use a rotary polisher on a jet ski? It’s common knowledge that if you use a polisher incorrectly, it can do more harm than good. But when it comes to detailing a jet ski, many owners use rotary polisher on a jet ski, especially on gelcoat surface. Gelcoat is known as a very hard and thick coating, which means it requires a rotary polisher to polish it properly.

On the other hand, thanks to its durability, gelcoat is a little bit more forgivable compared to the car’s paint finish. But even if your jet ski is made of different material, you can still use polisher for the process, but you have to be more careful with it.

Beyond the polisher, you’ll need some different pads based on your need and the hull’s material, clean water, gloves, cleaning stuff and the liquids of course. Let’s see what your options are to detail your jet ski properly!

The best jet ski polish, wax, and oxidation remover

The liquids you will need during the process solely depend on your goals and the condition of the jet ski’s hull. When it comes to cleaning, you can’t go wrong with Simple Green but you have some other options as well.

Beyond the cleaning equipment, polishing compound and wax are the bare minimum to bring your jet ski up to good shape. But if your jet ski’s hull is oxidized, for a more dramatic upgrade, you may want to use oxidation remover or even sandpaper for wet sanding.

Speaking of specific products, the Meguiar’s Marine Fiberglass Restoration System is quite popular, as it’s a 3-stage kit that includes an Oxidation Remover, High Gloss Polish and Wax.

But 3M or West Marine also offer similar products which are also popular among jet ski and boat owners.

How do You Polish a Jet Ski at Home?

If you want to polish a jet ski, the exact steps always depend on the hull’s condition. If your jet ski’s hull is oxidized, the proper jet ski polishing steps are:1. Preparation

2. Cleaning

3. Oxidation Removal

4. Polishing

5. Washing

6. Drying

7. Waxing

If you don’t need oxidation removal, you can simply skip this step and jump to polishing once you’ve washed your ski.

Can you wax a jet ski?  This is another common question about polishing. The good news is yes, you can wax a jet ski, and what’s more, it’s highly recommended as polishing leaves the jet ski’s hull unprotected from the sun!

Polishing a Jet Ski

Speaking of polishing, it’s not so difficult with a polisher; just follow these steps:1. Wheeling (polishing the jet ski with a rotating wheel) is always a messy task, so make sure all items are covered nearby.

2. Move the jet ski to a shady area to keep it out of direct sunlight. Also, make sure that it’s on a solid surface, and try to avoid grass or even dirt.

3. Clean the jet ski carefully, and when it’s done, rinse it down again. Additionally, don’t forget to tape up all plastic and rubber parts as can be seen in this video below. If polish touches these parts, it’s always a pain to remove it!

4. Choose the right compound and damp pad for your jet ski, which usually come in kits. Dark-colored models need softer compounds and pads, as dark paintings are much more sensitive to swirl marks. If your jet ski is light-colored, you can use more heavy-duty setups.

5. If you want to use oxidation removal, always start with this. If you’re looking for simple polishing, you can start with the polish compound right away.

6. Attach a clean pad to the polishing wheel, put a small amount of compound on the pad and start to spread it on the hull.

7. Always move the tool carefully, the best way to avoid swirl marks is to keep the pad parallel to the surface. Run the pad at medium speed, and move it back and forth with constant pressure.

8. While doing this, the paint heats up and the scratches slowly disappear.

9. Always keep your eyes on the pad as it has to remain damp during the whole process. If it dries, it leads to overheating which can damage the clear coat on your jet ski! It’s best if you keep clean water or a hose nearby to rinse off the pad when needed.

10. Also, keep in mind that the pad’s outer edge is faster than the center which may end in more polish and heat. Because of this, be extra careful when polishing a jet ski’s intricate trim areas like mirrors or sharp edges.

11. Move the wheel on the surface until it becomes shiny. You don’t have to wait for the polish to dry, and once a part is done, just move on to the next area.

12. Once the polishing is done, wash and rinse the jet ski carefully to remove all polishing compounds from the surface.

Waxing the Jet Ski

13. After the washing, dry the complete hull thoroughly before you wax it! You can use a microfiber towel to make the process faster; just make sure that you start from the top.

14. Apply a good quality marine wax on the jet ski to ensure a shiny finish and protect the paint from the sun. Use a soft foam pad to spread the wax onto the whole surface.

15. Wait until the wax completely dries. You can check it by touching the surface with your finger.

16. Once it has dried, remove the wax carefully. As it’s the final step, it’s best if you do it by hand. Always use a microfiber towel, as other materials may harm the surface.

17. Once it’s done, you have to place your jet ski into the sunlight for a final check; the paint has to be extremely shiny everywhere.

Never miss waxing the jet ski, as polishing can leave it unprotected!

How do You Wet Sand a Jet Ski?

Can you wet sand a jet ski? Yes, you can wet sand a jet ski, but unlike oxidation removal or polish, wet sanding a jet ski is a much more serious process as it goes deeper, thus it’s much more dangerous! Unless you have experience in this world, it’s best if you leave the job to professionals.

You may be wondering: “If it’s so dangerous, why is wet sanding so popular?” That’s because a properly wet sanded jet ski can look brand new, independently of how faded it was.

In fact, when done properly, this is the most effective way to upgrade the paint on a jet ski (after repainting, of course), as it leads to a glass-smooth surface.

If you want to do it yourself at all costs, you can make good use of this tutorial video:


How much does it cost to detail a jet ski?

Do you like to keep your jet ski in immaculate condition, but don’t want to spend time detailing it? Then the jet ski detailing services are for you. As a rule of thumb, it costs around $100 -$200 to detail the jet ski, depending on its condition and your needs.

How do you detail a jet ski?

A thorough jet ski detailing always includes cleaning, oxidation removal, polishing, and waxing. However, oxidation removal is needed only if your jet ski’s paint is in really bad condition, so you can skip this step most of the time.

As you can see, detailing a jet ski is not rocket science, but you have to be careful as doing it wrong can damage your paint job!  For further instructions about cleaning and maintaining your jet ski, always check your owner’s manual!

———Related Articles:How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Jet Ski? [DIY vs. PRO] How to Clean a Jet Ski in 5 Easy Steps [Video Guide] Jet Ski Maintenance Checklist: How To Maintain Your PWC