Jet Ski Cover Tips and Common Questions

Getting a cover is one of the best things you can do to protect your jet ski and keep it looking good.

Here is a list of why you should have a cover on your PWC.

  1. Protects it from the sun – The sun will fade and crack the fiberglass, plastic and the vinyl.
  2. Helps keep some rain off – Rainwater is not the cleanest water, and it will leave water sports. Even worse, the footwells hold water and attract bugs and animals to your watercraft.
  3. Keeps bird droppings off – Birds love to poop on things, and your jetski is no different. The bird poop has acid in it, and it will eat the paint and plastic parts, leaving a mark behind.
  4. Keeps small animals away – small animals like mice love hiding spots and the inside of your ski is perfect, but keep a cover on it, and they have a hard time getting in.
  5. Cuts down on theft – Some jet skis are easier to steal than others, but it’s hard to tell when a cover is on it. The ski also tends to blend in better to the background, as the covers are often bland colors.
  6. Keeps it cleaner – Boats just get dirty, and when they sit they attract grime and other gunk. The footwells of jet skis are the perfect place for gunk to build, and keeping a cover on your craft cuts down on the cleaning.

The picture above shows a Sea-Doo that was not covered enough, and now the seat is splitting and black mold marks all over it. Some of the black marks won’t come off because it’s damaged by the sun.

The Best Kind

The best cover is one that is made for your exact model, or the manufacturer’s cover.

I suggest getting a cover for your cover when it comes to long-term storage.

To get the full details on the best cover, I have a guide that will help.

How To Put On

Putting on a cover is tricky for most people, especially when on the dock.

Here are the universal steps to putting on a cover:

  1. Make sure the waverunner and seat are dry before putting the cover on.
  2. Expand the cover and look for the handlebar section.
  3. Throw the cover over and put the handlebar section of the cover on the handlebars of your PWC. Sometimes the cover has markings that let you know it’s the handlebars and not the mirrors.
  4. Pull the front of the cover over the nose.
  5. Pull the rear of the cover over the rear seat.
  6. At the rear, pull the right side of the rear cover onto the right rear.
  7. Pull the left rear of the cover to the left side, this may be the tightest spot.

The trick is to do the handlebars first, then the nose and lastly the rear. Going any other direction will frustrate you.

If you’re on a dock or a drive-up lift and having a hard time, you can do the handlebars first, then the rear, but it will be hard getting the nose of the cover over the nose of the PWC for manufacturer covers.

Not All Models Come With Them

Not every waverunner comes with a cover, it’s mostly the higher-end models or the limited edition models that come with a cover.

When buying a new, make sure you haggle for the cover, as that is when you’re going to get the best deal on one. Shoot, haggle on two, as you’ll need a new one in 3 years anyway, and they don’t get cheaper. Just have to store it for 3 years, seal it in plastic and you’ll be fine.

When To Put On

You should cover your jetski when you’re done riding it for the day.

Going a few days without covering your jetski is fine, but I would not make a habit of it.

If you don’t cover your jetski, the fiberglass and plastic will fade, and the seats will start to tear. You can put protectants on the fiberglass, plastic and vinyl, but a cover is simply the best protection you have.

It will be the cover that fades and tears apart and not the jetski, which means you’ll need to replace it every 3 to 5 years.

Is A Sea-Doo Cover Worth It?

Sea-Doo, Yamaha and Kawasaki all sell their own covers that fit your watercraft perfectly.

The cover you get from the manufacturer will be the best one you can get, but it’s often the most expensive. You want something that is a tight fit to stop the elements from destroying your PWC.

One solution is to buy the manufacturer’s cover, but then get a cheaper option to put over that one to extend the life of the good cover. I do this for long-term storage of my Sea-Doo and it really helps a lot.


The thing about covers is that they will last anywhere from 3 to 5 years if you’re lucky.

But this is a good thing.

You want your cover to look bad because your jet ski would have looked that bad, or worse, if you didn’t have a cover. It’s cheaper, and easier to replace a cover, than fix or detail your jet ski.


It’s a fact that covers do go up in price every year, just like most things.

Since you’ll need to get a new cover every 3 to 5 years, it might be worth it to look at affordable covers. You can get some affordable covers online, which is great news! But these covers are not the same thing you would get at most dealerships.

The covers made by the manufacturer are excellent covers. Most of these covers will have a thicker material that holds up better, and some even go as far as having cotton padding to protect the hood and such.

Probably the biggest perk of getting a cover that is made for your watercraft is that it’s usually easier to put on. Most Sea-Doo covers will have cotton padding; this tells you that this is the front of the cover. You drape the cover over and align up the handlebars. Put the nose on next and come around the rear for complete coverage. The manufacturer’s cover will fit like a glove and won’t require any complicated ratcheting. Another big perk is that most of these covers are well-thought-out that they have zippers that allow you to get to the gas fill and many other compartments of the watercraft.

The picture above is of my Sea-Doo Spark with its cover, and as talked about, it has a zipper around the seat, so I can fill up the gas tank or get to the glove box without taking the cover completely off.

You can buy universal fitting covers online that are cheaper than the manufacturer. The fit won’t be as good as the manufacturer, but that is a plus because I use them to put over my good cover. I use universal jetski covers (Amazon Link Ad) to protect my good cover, as they’re easier and cheaper to replace than the Sea-Doo covers. The image below gives you an idea of how I do long-term storage with a universal cover over my Sea-Doo cover.

Tow With Cover On

This is more of a personal taste, but I recommend not towing your jet ski with the cover on, especially on short trips.

No matter how good the cover fits and snugs up to the jet ski, I’ve seen them fly off. And when they do fly off Its when you’re going down the interstate, and it always flies to the other side of the road and lands in a mud puddle (from my own personal experiences)

For long rides, I find the cover rubs the plastic and other parts of the jet ski raw. The constant wind pressure also stretches and wears the covers out quicker, too.

The counter-argument is that people leave the covers on to keep the watercraft from getting dirty or rocks hitting them. This is a very valid argument.

I have found a middle ground when it comes to this problem.

To get the best of both worlds, I would wrap friction points under the cover with a microfiber rag and throw a ratchet strap across the middle of the jet ski to keep it from completely flying off.

How-To Wash

Before you even consider washing your cover, you need to be honest with yourself. If the cover feels brittle, has holes, super moldy or 3 to 5 years old, then it is time for a new cover.

Here are the steps to clean a PWC cover:

  1. Lay the cover on a flat, clean surface.
  2. Spray the cover with mold and mildew stray cleaner made for boats.
  3. Let the spray sit for a minute.
  4. Scrub using a hard bristle brush.
  5. Rinse the cleaner off.

Some of the black spots won’t come off, even they look like mold, it’s not, and it’s damaged materials from the sun. It’s better for your cover to look this and not your jet ski, it means your cover is working!

If the black spots bug you, then use a magic eraser, but it can be too aggressive to very worn out covers, so tread lightly.

Avoid Washing Machine

I don’t suggest putting your jet ski cover in the washing machine, especially if you have a center agitator.

Newer side load washing machines will “fine” on a gentle cycle for newer covers, but it’s not going to clean as well as you think. If the cover is old and brittle, the washing machine will destroy it and overall, it’s not worth it.

You can fill up a bath tub or large bucket outside with water and Oxiclean (Amazon Link Ad) and let the cover soak for a bit. Always do a small hidden test spot before going too deep with Oxiclean, every cover reacts differently.

NEVER put the cover in the dryer, only hang it outside to dry.

You can try your local laundromat to see what they can do, they may surprise you or look at you funny.

Just note that mechanical washing of covers is not ideal and can destroy them if you’re not careful. A good soaking or rinse off with the hose is the best you’re going to get, and if the cover is too bad, then it’s time for a new one.

Extend The Life Of Your Cover

If you want to extend the life of your cover, you need to put a protectant or Fabric Guard (Amazon Link Ad) on it.

A lot of the stains come from the water, bird poop, and other gunk that hits the cover. A fabric guard will help protect your cover and extend its life longer than not using it.

Too Tight, How To Fix

When you acquire a new cover, especially one from the manufacturer, it can be challenging to put on. This is a common occurrence. If you plan to tow it behind your truck, you’ll want a snug cover. However, similar to shoes, the cover needs to be broken in over time.

Make sure to put the handlebars on first, then the nose, and lastly the rear.

If you try to put the cover on the rear first, then it’s going to feel impossible. It’s always the handlebars, then the nose, and the rear. Any other way and you’ll be yelling and cussing the cover.

If it’s a brand-new cover, I like to lay it out in the sun for a couple of hours before I put it on so that it stretches out a bit. This can make putting the cover on so much easier.

Plus, the cover will get easier to put on overtime, just like how shoes get easier to put on overtime.



I started working at a power sports dealership in 2007, I worked in parts, service counter, and as a technician before moving to sales in 2013. I created in 2014 to answer common watercraft questions I would get from people. Now managing the site full-time, I continue to provide advice and web tools for my readers about watercraft. I've owned several watercraft, with a Sea-Doo Spark as my current main PWC.


  1. When towing your skis behind your vehicle with the covers on, should you have the zipper zipped up or not?

  2. I have a Kawasaki Ultra 310R. and Kawasaki cover. getting it on is a mission at the front. The cover has a hole in it that goes over the stainless fitting that the hook from winch hooks onto. However, when retrieve the ski I winch it up tight. But then cannot access putting the cover over the stainless fitting without immense effort to lift front of ski to create a small gap then daughter can slide cover through. This cannot be right? What am I doing wrong?? Thx

    • The trick with a cover is to put the handlebars on first, then the front, and lastly the rear. Doing it in any other order will result in you fighting the cover and it feeling like it’s almost impossible to get on. New covers can be tricky as they need to be broken in and the best way to do that is to get it on the jet ski. Out of the 100’s of covers I have seen one that was a defect from the factory so if you still can’t get it after this I would return it and get a new one.

  3. raise the lift so that the machine is above the water level. walk around and put the machine cover on. yes, you will get wet, but, after going for a ride, you “ARE” already wet!
    Then finish raising the machine, pat it goodbye, and wait until next time.
    Don’t forget to dry off the machine “BEFORE” you cover it, to prevent dampness and the chance of mold forming.

    • If its a lift that goes up in the air many of them have a way to rotate it so it’s easier to get to. If its a drive-up lift I usually put the rear on first and then handlebars and then nose. If the cover is new it might need to be broken in but I have run into new covers way too tight and had to go to an upholstery shop to loosen up the bungee. It might be worth checking out your local upholstery shop to loosen the bungee on the cover so its easier to put on.


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