What is the best way to clean sails?
Sue & Larry respond:
Before you can begin cleaning your sails, you'll want to try to identify two things. First, you'll need to know the method of construction and the type of cloth in your sail. Then if possible determine the source of the dirt or stain that you're trying to clean off.
Most standard sails are of a woven cloth using nylon or polyester (Dacron is a trade name for polyester) that is coated and then sewn together. Newer, high-tech materials such as Mylar and Kevlar are laminates. Special adhesives are used to construct these go-fast sails.
If you're cleaning general dirt from your sail, mild dishwashing soap or Davis's Foaming Sail Cleaner can be used on both these types of sails. Once you get into other types of stains or mildews, though, you must be more careful in choosing your cleaning method. Solvents and bleach can damage the high-tech sails, and heavy scrubbing with a hard bristle brush can damage both types of sails.
For very complete information on how to clean specific stains, mildew, rust, grease, and oil, take a look at the article entitled Sail Care and Cleaning by Kathy Barron.