If you own a kayak, you may find the need to store it for periods of time when you're not using it. Whether you want to keep it in tip-top shape for winter storage or simply for months when not in use, you will want to keep your boat protected by following a few simple rules. Preparing your watercraft for boat storage is as equally important as knowing how to store it. Here are a few Dos and Don'ts to follow:

1. DO Remove Soft Materials Before Storing Your Kayak

If you have cushions or any type of fabric lining inside the kayak, it is best to remove them before storing your vessel for a long stretch. This may prevent the fabrics from gathering dirt and dust. It may also help prevent mold and mildew growth on the plastic kayak, which may occur because of condensation beneath the fabric. Store any cushions or fabrics separately. As a general rule, there should be nothing inside your boat when you store it.

2. DON'T Neglect to Clean and Polish Your Kayak Thoroughly Before Storing It Away

If you are going to be storing your boat for a long period of time, you'll want it to be clean and ready for use when you finally take it out of storage. The best way to prepare your kayak for long term storage is to simply sponge wash it with a mild, soapy detergent. After washing the vessel, you might want to add some protectant solution that is specially designed for kayaks. Similar to a wax, the protectant is formulated to add shine to the vessel and preserve the finish. Don't forget to lightly oil the metal hardware on your boat. Lastly, dry your kayak thoroughly before you put it away in storage.

3. DO Store Your Kayak in a Temperature Controlled Environment

Exposing your kayak to the elements or to extreme temperatures may cause damage to the vessel. The plastic may warp or fade when exposed to the sun. Also, the Kayak may develop mildew if exposed to damp conditions. If possible, store your kayak in an enclosed area, such as a garage or shed.

If you do not have access to a garage or shed, you may be forced to store the boat outside. You can avoid issues from exposure if you follow a few measures of precaution. For one thing, wrap and secure your kayak in a protective tarp. Be sure the material used is resistant to ultraviolet (UV) sun. The cockpit should be covered as well. Some type of drawstring covering should do the job. You'll want to secure the covering as tightly as possible. This will prevent wildlife from nesting inside the vessel, as they seek to find shelter from the weather.

4. DON'T Store Your Kayak Flat, On Its Side or Upside Down

Storing your kayak flat, sideways or upside down may cause dings, scratches or dents to the boat. Instead, it is a good idea to store your kayak in an upright (vertical) position. If you must store your kayak upside down, do so with support underneath each end of the cockpit. Do so by suspending the boat on a heavy duty webbing. You should be able to find the webbing at your local kayak dealer.

5. DO Keep Your Stored Kayak Locked Up (If Outdoors)

If you are storing your kayak outdoors, it is imperative to place some type of lock on it for obvious security reasons. Failure to keep your stored kayak locked could result in a valuable loss to you. A lock is a good deterrent against theft, so choose the best model you can find, preferably one with a key-less access.