Sails should be white, our main wasn't. Time to send to the professional sail cleaners I thought, until they quoted me $350 plus freight both ways and wouldn't answer a direct question about whether they use bleach or not. So what to do; researched the subject here on SN, checked out local sail lofts recommendations, etc. I decided to go with a recommendation from a very highly regarded loft in Pt. Townsend, WA to use a solution of Woolite and vinegar and scrub the entire sail with a soft brush. I layed the sail out (most of it, had to work in sections) on the deck on top of a couple of clean tarps and started scrubbing, and scrubbing... several hours later I turned the sail over and started on the other side. By this time I was pretty sure that the sail wasn't going to look much different than when I started, I didn't see the stains, algae or anything disappearing
. I finished and rinsed both sides thoroughly, by then it was dark so I waited till the next day to pass judgement. Woolite and vinegar might be good for something but cleaning sails isn't it. More research turned up an idea to use Oxiclean washing detergent and let it soak for 8 hours or so. Our bathtub wouldn't hold the sail so more research came up with a brilliant idea of using our inflatable tender as a tub so I put a tarp over it and filled it with water and added five laundry scoops (unscientific estimate - looked like about five washing machines worth of water) of detergent and used an oar to dissolve the stuff (hot, or even warm water would have been nice). I stuffed the sail in, it was sorta flaked, but a bunch kept coming up out of the water so I folded the sides of the tarp over it and set a garden wagon upside down on top of the whole thing. After an hour or so the wagon had settled everything down into the water so I took it off. After eight hours or so I drug the now really heavy sail out of the dinghy and back to the deck for rinsing. It still took blasting the dirty areas with full pressure from a hose nozzle but it looks a LOT better, I would even say it's white and not a dingy shade of gray like when I started, and most of the stains are gone. Overall I'm pretty happy with it. Probably won't put it on the boat until Feb. because we aren't going to use the boat until then so no pics, but I think it's going to look pretty good.