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Old 04-10-2016, 19:58   #1
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How to remove mould from mainsail

Hello all, I looking to see if there's a simple solution to removing mould from a white mainsail. I recently bought a cat which had a spare main stored deep in the bowels and when I pulled it out it had significant mould on it, probably from being kept wet, dark and folded up. I now have to use it as a full time main but would rather it didn't look so dreadful.
I'm based in Victoria, Australia and at the moment it is rather chilly and quite wet so I'm not getting too many chances to leave it in the sun day after day after day.
Would really appreciate some advice on solutions that won't damage the sail or stitching. Believe me when I say there is mould right through everything, including the stitching.
The sail is "laminated" it is definitely not Dacron. Hope that helps.
Thanks everyone, love reading the forums always interesting.
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Old 04-10-2016, 20:16   #2
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

Brad and Natalie,

Wow, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but I think it'll be hopeless. Please check this with a sailmaker you can trust, but if it's a laminated sail, and it's full of mildew, it's on the verge of self destruction, because the mold's biollogical processes release acids that eat up the fabrics that are laminated. That mold is probably the reason the sail was stored away. At least, that's my guess, however, I do not have the knowledge base that a good sailmaker should have. (They vary, like all professionals.)

Ironically, if it were dacron, there are some things you can do.

Sorry.

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Old 04-10-2016, 21:27   #3
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

Our sailmaker told us that a wipe of "Wet and Forget" can be effective. Possibly more for very early stages, or as a preventative than a cure though.


If the mould is between the laminates, then yes, the sail isn't going to last long.

http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/i.html?_o...orget&_sacat=0
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Old 04-10-2016, 23:47   #4
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

If you read up about the construction of laminated sails, Out of Whole Cloth: Sailcloth 101 | Cruising World you will see that they are quite complex materials. The outer layer is often mylar which is a bit like the clear coat over the paint on your car. For mould to appear. it needs to get through the mylar and start growing in the variety of fibres underneath. Any cleaning process will need to penetrate the mylar and then work its magic. Some of the materials used might be sensitive to typical cleaning agents such as chlorine based bleach. In fact, many of the cleaning agents are chlorine based and if applied in concentrated form, can be harmful. You might try soaking the sail in a well chlorinated swimming pool with the filter running. It might take several days for anything to happen.
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Old 05-10-2016, 08:49   #5
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

Quote:
Originally Posted by bradandnatalie View Post
Hello all, I looking to see if there's a simple solution to removing mould from a white mainsail. I recently bought a cat which had a spare main stored deep in the bowels and when I pulled it out it had significant mould on it, probably from being kept wet, dark and folded up. I now have to use it as a full time main but would rather it didn't look so dreadful.
I'm based in Victoria, Australia and at the moment it is rather chilly and quite wet so I'm not getting too many chances to leave it in the sun day after day after day.
Would really appreciate some advice on solutions that won't damage the sail or stitching. Believe me when I say there is mould right through everything, including the stitching.
The sail is "laminated" it is definitely not Dacron. Hope that helps.
Thanks everyone, love reading the forums always interesting.
Try a few drops of iodine a spray bottle of water.
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Old 05-10-2016, 09:45   #6
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

I've always just washed my sails in the bathtub. Tend to pick a rain free day and leave on a trampoline in the backyard to dry. I always add just a little bleach, and detergent. Wash each sail separately of course as they're so voluminous. I have one of those big old baths. A hot tub would be perfect.
I use a soft brush on the dirty areas. Leave to soak for a while before I do battle to drag them outside. Makes a bit of a mess but it's only water. The sails come out wonderfully clean.
Also take the opportunity to check all the stitching etc.

For a very bad sail (after a test touch) I would use a product available here called napisan. We call diapers nappies and napisan is fantastic cleaner for clothe nappies.
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Old 05-10-2016, 10:58   #7
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

I don't know if this product will be OK to use on a laminated sail. It was recommended to me to use on the ceiling of my VW Wesfalia that had heavy extensive mould. It is made in NZ, has a chlorine base, no scrubbing, simply spray on and leave for a few minutes. Sold as a mould cleaner for drapes. You can see it in demos on YouTube - Google to find - "Kiwi Magic Mould Remover". It worked exactly as the demo shows.
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:10   #8
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

As Anne T. said, if the mold has penetrated inside a laminated sail? Best way to get rid of it is to burn it. Nothing else will get rid of the mold or prevent it from spreading to the rest of the boat. Trying to "fix" a laminated sail that has started to break down, is like playing "whack-a-mole". You can't win.




While it is possible that you could soak the sail in water with a shot of bleach, or peroxide, or other agent in it, I doubt you'll be able to reach the mold and kill it, without the adhesive inside also being broken down.


Good luck.
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:22   #9
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

In terms of getting this sail clean, if such is actually possible, it would probably be wise to talk to both a sail maker/loft, as well as companies which clean sails professionally. That way you're literally getting expert, professional advise. And I can't see as how doing so would at all cause any grief.

On solvents. Use caution, as bleach eats Kevlar (& many other aramids), in addition to some other sail cloth "fabrics", & the adhesives used in their construction. Not to mention being hard on some of the components which comprise more low tech fabrics.

And look at it this way: What kinds of things made from cloth do you have at home that you'd soak for extended periods in solutions of harsh or corrosive solvents? As even the lightly chlorinated water in a pool does "eat" things. Think about what happens to the swim suits that you wear a lot, but never rinse out. They die pretty rapidly.

Also, while my chemisty is rusty, isn't Iodine similar to Chlorine?
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:38   #10
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

Sail Care Tips | Sail Care & Repair | North Sails US
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Old 05-10-2016, 12:38   #11
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

Sail Care Tips | Sail Care & Repair | North Sails US

... The single most popular mildew killer and remover is simple household bleach. This is also known as sodium hypochlorite, sold in the U.S. in 5.25% solution with water. This is potentially nasty stuff and manufacturers recommend diluting it quite a bit further before using. Tilex® and other "mildew removers" are mainly sodium hypochlorite in solutions of about 3%, which is still a pretty healthy dosage.
CAUTION: DO NOT use BLEACH (Sodium Hypochlorite) ON KEVLAR or NYLON, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!! ... Of course, this means you should not clean Kevlar and nylon with Tilex® or other commercial mildew cleaners that contain sodium hypochlorite.

CAUTION: DO NOT EVER MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA.
The result is phosgene gas which killed and disabled thousands in the First World War.

... deep set stains, surface cleaning will not work. It is necessary to immerse the stain in a fungicide for 12 hours or more, to allow it to get into where the stain is.
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Old 05-10-2016, 12:53   #12
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

Brad I up in QLD and an old painter once told me that mould resistant paint is normal paint with a cap of Roundup (active ingredient Glyphosate) in it !! Also said that a spray bottle with same amount to kill weeds in it is fantastic for removing mould on ceilings and in boats? Well I have used in inside hatches and on carpet lining of Trimaran for ages and is VERY effective. Would be worth a try on your sail and of course put it in the sun if you get any down there
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Old 05-10-2016, 13:07   #13
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

Back to the few drops of iodine in water. No caustic or acidic used on your sails. Not enough iodine for any discoloration. I know it sounds stupid but cost nothing to try.

I thought it sounded crazy also until I tried it. Not a sail a car floor mate that had been getting wet and had crusty mold. A misting made the mold just evaporate for not having a better term.
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Old 05-10-2016, 13:34   #14
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

Iodine is an effective biocide, but I do not know whether it should be used on a laminated main sail.

I do not know if there even are any professional sail washers in Oz. Are there? If so, that might be another source of info, as UNCIVILIIZED wrote. Or, even the original sailmaker, should have some notes about the construction and fabrics of the sail. Failing that, whoever's closest.

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Old 05-10-2016, 13:38   #15
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Re: How to remove mould from mainsail

My 1978 Windrose sat with the main sail in the back of the boat in leaves for two years before i bought it ,turned the sail bottom foot or so black. Before the internet and all these wise people on this forum i scrubbed the living you know what out of it with pure bleach on clean concrete , no gloves no nee pads it burnt the you know out of me but i got it clean PURE WHITE CLEAN . 21 years later it's still my main sail still in good shape. Remember that was Lake Erie 4-5 month summers , now i'm on the hard in Placida FL till ? The thing is i scrubbed with a soft brush and garden hose till i got it clean, very clean . I did not let it dry out ever, keep it very wet and when you are done cleaning rinse it till there is no slipperyness at all in the sail . This was a very very lot of work . This year i stitched near the battons a little, after 21 years . The thing is clean the sh out of that sail use it and save for a new / new to you sail . I've found used sails cheep , cheepper then i ever thought i could find . Good luck .
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