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Old 13-11-2012, 15:58   #1
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Cleaning Sails

I know this must have been asked before, but I can't find the thread. Is it possible to clean grayish, dingy sails that might also have a few other stains?
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Old 13-11-2012, 16:14   #2
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Re: Cleaning Sails

Yes if they are small enough chuck them in the washing machine on cold or low temp, just keep the soap powder to the minimum and no bleach.

When they have finished chuck the sheets and halyards in as well. They come out clean, soft and nice to handle. Spinnaker sheets with metal bits need to go inside a pillow case to avoid the clanking inside the drum.

Best done when the wifey is out though

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Old 13-11-2012, 16:52   #3
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Re: Cleaning Sails

There are also a number of commercial services. You can google "sail cleaning services". Here is a link to one of them:

SCI Marine, Inc. - Sail Cleaning & Repair

I have never used them or any other so I cannot make a recommendation. Perhaps if you contacted a local sail loft that you trust, they can either perform the service or steer you towards someone reputable.

Rich
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Old 13-11-2012, 17:00   #4
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Re: Cleaning Sails

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Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
Yes if they are small enough chuck them in the washing machine on cold or low temp, just keep the soap powder to the minimum and no bleach.

When they have finished chuck the sheets and halyards in as well. They come out clean, soft and nice to handle. Spinnaker sheets with metal bits need to go inside a pillow case to avoid the clanking inside the drum.

Best done when the wifey is out though

Pete

You would need a bulldozer to push many sails into the typical washing machine.

The best way to clean sails is to take them to a sailmaker. It might cost a few dollars but your sails will be happier, less damaged and cleaner.
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Old 13-11-2012, 19:10   #5
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Re: Cleaning Sails

Please don't wash your sails in a washing machine unless you wish to require my services for a new sail. Less is more. Wash the sails with a mild detergent and fresh water, and make sure they are dry when you store them. Stains won't hurt the sail in most cases. I've seen many sails damaged by cleaning but never seen a sail fail due to a stain.

Do not wash in a swimming pool.

90% of the sails I see people wasting money on with so called restoration services are blown out sails with no shape. Sails are your engine. When they are old and have lost their shape (cannot be trimmed flat and draft moved aft), it's time for new sails. Otherwise it's like spray painting an engine and pretending it's been overhauled.
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Old 14-11-2012, 04:25   #6
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Re: Cleaning Sails

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Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
You would need a bulldozer to push many sails into the typical washing machine.

The best way to clean sails is to take them to a sailmaker. It might cost a few dollars but your sails will be happier, less damaged and cleaner.
He is talking about an old pair of dinghy sails which should fit, though I wouldn't try a full size yacht genoa.

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Old 14-11-2012, 08:47   #7
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Re: Cleaning Sails

Is there any way to safely remove mildew stains from a laminate sail?
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Old 14-11-2012, 08:50   #8
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Re: Cleaning Sails

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The best way to clean sails is to take them to a sailmaker. It might cost a few dollars but your sails will be happier, less damaged and cleaner.
I took a sail for cleaning to the local Hood loft a couple years ago, and was disappointed with the results. I ended up having to go back over the sail with a brush and a hose, and did a better job.
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Old 14-11-2012, 12:35   #9
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Re: Cleaning Sails

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Is there any way to safely remove mildew stains from a laminate sail?

I don't believe so. I had them on a sail I took to a loft for cleaning. Fortunately, they were honest and said that the sail was too old to be worth the money of cleaning and that the mildew was between the laminates and virtually impossible to get out.

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Old 16-11-2012, 09:38   #10
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Re: Cleaning Sails

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Is there any way to safely remove mildew stains from a laminate sail?
There is a product designed just for that-and is safe on all sail materials including racing laminates. It's been only available previously to the industry, I'm talking with the manufacturer about selling it retail so people like us can clean our sails effectively and safely. Will hopefully have good news soon.
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Old 16-11-2012, 09:48   #11
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Re: Cleaning Sails

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There is a product designed just for that-and is safe on all sail materials including racing laminates. It's been only available previously to the industry, I'm talking with the manufacturer about selling it retail so people like us can clean our sails effectively and safely. Will hopefully have good news soon.
Ron
You need more than just the cleaning solution. Did you read how the company with the link above cleans sails? Here's an explanation of their process. I'll look forward to a youtube video of you duplicating it in your garage.

"(The sail) is lowered into a large vat ..... Once the sail is immersed, high-speed pumps begin the cleaning process by circulating the solution into the sail material. Sails are not agitated during this process. The sail is rotated every 30 minutes to ensure that 100% of the sail has been completely cleansed. Depending on the soil and mildew content, the cleaning process time varies from 6 to 12 hours. After the sail is clean, it is thoroughly rinsed and hung on a spar until it is completely dry. Rust is then removed..."
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Old 16-11-2012, 10:20   #12
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Re: Cleaning Sails

DO NOT EVER PUT ANY SAILS IN A WASHING MACHINE
Even with cold water and gentle cycle the machine will take the calendaring out of the cloth and leave you with a dish rag instead of a sail.
If you need to wash a sail spread it out on a lawn or clean concrete surface and use a gentle soap and scrub brush.

(I spent 12 years as a sailmaker so this is not armchair advise)
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Old 16-11-2012, 10:39   #13
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Re: Cleaning Sails

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Is there any way to safely remove mildew stains from a laminate sail?
Short answer, no.
It's not on the outer surface.
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Old 17-11-2012, 01:08   #14
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Re: Cleaning Sails

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Short answer, no.
It's not on the outer surface.
I'm not looking to get into a pissing match over this but..... there is a cleaner specifically designed for removing mildew from laminate sails safely. It effectively removes mildew stains under the laminate. It has no effect on rust stains however so they must be treated separately.
Agitation is not required, flaking the sail into your tub/vat is best to ensure 100% contact with the solution.
I don't know what solution your cleaner uses so I can't comment except to say if they are not having luck with mildew then it's not the same product I'm talking about.
Will the home clean be as good as a pro, probably not but will be about 95% as good at a savings of several hundred dollars per sail.
I'll be more than happy to send you some to try out
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Old 17-11-2012, 01:21   #15
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Re: Cleaning Sails

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I'm not looking to get into a pissing match over this but..... there is a cleaner specifically designed for removing mildew from laminate sails safely.
I'm guessing you're trying to talk Challenge into selling you some of their cleaner to re-sell. Almost all of us have accounts with Challenge and I suspect anyone who has a friendly relationship with their sailmaker may be able to get some.

I'm not looking into getting into a pissing match either but I have no clue how this "miracle cleaner" would be able to penetrate the outer lamination. I think you may be confusing removing surface mildew with mildew inside the sail.

I know there is a process that uses vacuum to pull some cleaning solution through a sail but it's not something you can duplicate in a garage.

Mildew is generally only a cosmetic concern. Fortunately the newer laminates are less susceptible than the older ones due to improvements in manufacturing and more effective mildecides.

Personally I just use a mild detergent on my sails. I don't clean customer sails. I will explain how they can do it themselves though.

Good luck with your business venture peddling the stuff.
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