How to Remove Zebra Mussels From a Boat

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Infesting Europe for centuries, zebra mussels were thought to be inadvertently carried on the hull of a ship and introduced into North America around 1988. Since then many fishermen have had to clean zebra mussels from the hulls of their boats. If left to accumulate, zebra mussels cause damage to the surface of a boat's hull. Here are some methods to remove these pest from a boat.

Run your boat through the water at high speeds to dislodge any loose zebra mussels from the hull. This will also prevent any new mussels from attaching to your boat.

Remove any aquatic plant life that is clinging to the hull of the boat. Zebra mussels will most likely be attached to any plants that are on your boat.

Lift your boat entirely out of the water using a boatlift. Scrape the zebra mussels from the hull using a putty knife or any type of tool with a flat, wide blade.

Wash the boat with hot, soapy water. Use a garden hose with a powerful spray or put your boat on a trailer and run it through a car wash to remove any remaining zebra mussels and residue.

Flush zebra mussels from the engine by clamping a motor flusher onto the engine, attaching a garden hose and running the engine for approximately 10 minutes.

Leave your boat out of the water and in the sun, if possible, to thoroughly dry it. Zebra mussels thrive best in water or in humid air.


  • Scrape off zebra mussels and place in a garbage bag or bucket for disposal. Do not return the mussels to the water.
  • Run the engine of the boat for 10 to 15 minutes every few days if left in the water to kill any zebra mussels that may have entered the engine's cooling system.
  • Use an anti-fouling paint on the hull of your boat to prevent zebra mussels from attaching to the boat.
  • Remove any unused bait from your boat after docking it.
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