I took a soft brush, lightly soaped up water and washed my sail by hand on the lawn, being very careful how much and where I was stepping. I can't imagine putting it in a washing machine, I can only imagine a lot of damage getting done.. but I'm no expert and perhaps just overly cautious.
To get them white I would think just some good old elbow grease. Mine came out nice and clean when done and I just hung it up in the backyard to hose off in the end and dry. Takes more work and longer I suppose but you know you've got a job well done there.
My blog on boat related stuff:
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