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  • Angela DeFinis

Star Brite Deck Cleaner Vs FSR FACEOFF - Very Unexpected Results

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Note: I/we are not sponsored by any companies mentioned in this article. We cruise full time on our test bed, SV Confianza, and we enjoy sharing our tests and opinions to give back to the community.


We’ve seen FSR promoted by many respectable personalities on the interwebs, but should we switch from our tried and true Starbrite deck cleaner? The results were definitely... unexpected.


I guess we can say that Starbrite wins by default. The FSR kept staining our deck blue! Yes, we followed the instructions. Let’s dive into the faceoff and see how they both fared.


So Much Nonskid…


One thing Confianza has a lot of is non-skid deck. It’s everywhere. It gets dirty. And it has been a PAIN to clean. Between dirt that gets ground into the non-skid pattern, blotchy/oily stains setting into the aging gel coat, and a not-wax-friendly surface, it seems impossible to maintain. We are far overdue for a proper wheel brush compounding on the nonskid in the cockpit.


In the meantime, we took the two best reviewed products on side-by-side areas to see what could be done to get some of the more persistent stains out.


The First Contender - Star Brite Deck Cleaner


The first product in the face-off is the Starbrite Brand Non-Skid Deck Cleaner. I must admit, I am always a fan of Starbrite products.


This is the more budget-friendly option, with a full gallon available for less than $40. It is also carried at most marine stores. I’ve used this product for years and have always been pretty pleased by the results.


Star Brite Deck Cleaner
Star Brite Deck Cleaner

Second Contender - Davis Fiberglass Stain Remover (FSR)


The second product was new to me, but after reading rave reviews, I decided to give FSR a try. This product is more expensive—around $20 for a 16 oz tub. Unlike the Starbrite deck cleaner, which is a thin liquid, the FSR is a thick blue absorbing gel. I was hoping that would allow more adhesion on the really blotchy spots to pull the stains out.


Davis Fiberglass Stain Remover (FSR)
Davis Fiberglass Stain Remover (FSR)

I picked three stains next to each other that were comparable in size and color so that we could put the two products to the test. I also included a “control stain” which I treated with nothing, so that we would have a baseline to compare to after the products did their magic. Let's take a look at the test area:


The Test Area - Star Brite, Control, FSR
The Test Area - Star Brite, Control, FSR

Time to Get Cleaning


The Starbrite calls for you to pour the liquid on the dampened surface, brush lightly to spread, let sit for 5 minutes, then scrub lightly and rinse. FSR’s instructions were to simply apply with a brush, sponge or cloth. Wait a few minutes and then wipe off or rinse. I used a tooth brush for application since I was working on a small area. Star Brite is applied with its own sprayer.


FSR applied with a tooth brush.  Starbrite sprayed on.
FSR applied with a tooth brush. Starbrite sprayed on.

After 5 minutes, I gave the starbrite one more little scrub with my toothbrush, per the instructions, then rinsed both.


Star Brite Scrub After 5 Minutes
Star Brite Scrub After 5 Minutes

The Results Are In - WHAT?


This is where the fun really began. I was expecting, going into this, that the choice would be difficult. I was expecting the more expensive product to do a slightly better job. What I wasn’t expecting was for the FSR to leave a huge bright blue stain on my deck! WHAT?!


Let’s look at the before and after side by side.


Before and After - FSR, Control, Star Brite
Before and After Treatments

Let's Try This Again...


“Maybe you didn’t shake the FSR enough?” was Adam’s input.


I doubted it, but gave the experiment a second shot just in case, this time with scrubbing the FSR before the rinse even though the instructions didn’t call for it. I also put the FSR over the control just for a second shot at it.


Double the FSR. Double the Fun!  FSR Try Number #2
Double the FSR. Double the Fun! FSR Try Number #2

Nope, it wasn’t the shaking or the lack of scrubbing. The FSR did, in fact, leave massive blue stains on my deck.


FSR Leaves Even More Blue Stains
FSR Leaves Even More Blue Stains

Now What?


Heck, let’s try some Star Brite Non-Skid Cleaner to get the FSR stains out of the deck. The irony was not lost on me. The tag line “The Blue Gel lets you know its the original!” on the bottle really had me going.


However, even the Star Brite couldn’t get the blue stains out.


Not Much Change After Trying Star Brite on the FSR Stains
Not Much Change After Trying Star Brite on the FSR Stains

We tried scrubbing, soaking, even power washing (technically a power cleaner, but you get the idea). The blue stains from the FSR would not budge.


Ryobi 600 PSI Power Cleaner Also No Help on the FSR Blue Stains
Ryobi 600 PSI Power Cleaner Also No Help on the FSR Blue Stains

Time for the Nuclear Option


I generally avoid using abrasives on the non-skid. But, we had to get these darn stains out. Time for something a bit more aggressive.


I covered the surface in Comet Cleaning Powder with bleach, and let that sit for about 10 minutes before scrubbing it out. So now we have a third product to compare, great.


Let's Give Comet a Try on the Blue Stains from the FSR
Let's Give Comet a Try

Success!


Comet was extremely effective in removing all of the staining.


Comet gets 95% of the staining out, including bringing the blue FSR stains back to white.
Comet gets 95% of the staining out, including bringing the blue FSR stains back to white.

The stains are all now almost invisible. I believe that if I let it sit for a few minutes longer, the stains would be 100% gone.


I save Comet only for the worst case scenarios (Like when your deck cleaner stains your deck blue!). I do not recommend using it frequently. And I make sure to apply an extra layer of wax after use.


What Did We Learn?


In the end, I am still a Starbrite fan girl. Star Brite products always seem to have a knack for accomplishing the stated mission on the bottle. Let’s take a look again at what the Star Brite was able to accomplish (bottom of the image).


Star Brite Deck Cleaner Before and After
Star Brite Before and After

You can see that Star Brite tackled much of the staining, but still left about half of the of the bottom left one. We typically find that Star Brite will take out most stains except for motor oil or teak oil type stains. And I'm betting that Adam left a bottle of some sort of drippy oil there.


Star Brite is definitely the more cost effective product, and will save significant leg work. I recommend putting a sprayer top on the bottle so you can apply it more evenly, and you won’t over-pour and waste product.


The Davis’s FSR, on the other hand, should be relabeled as FSA (Fiberglass Stain Applicator!). Ahhhha aha ha...ahhhhh....


Maybe we had a bad batch, but some quick googling reveals others with the same issue. We’ll stick to the Starbrite deck cleaner for now.


If you have a different experience, or another product recommendation, let us know!






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