Cleaning / Washing Sails - Washing Machine ? Bleach ? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-24-2010 Thread Starter
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Cleaning / Washing Sails - Washing Machine ? Bleach ?

I just set up a spinnaker for my 25 foot trailer yacht. It has a lot of dirt and mold on it. Is there any reason why I cant throw it into the washing machine?

My nice new main has some rust spots on it. How do I remove them?

Also my friends 36 foot spray has a really crappy looking main. All sorts of crap on there like, algae, bird crap, rust, mud and general garbage. How would we clean such a larch sail? Bathtub with bleach or some other chemical?
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-24-2010
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Prevention is better than the cure… Never, ever, pack a wet chute. Dry it out by hoisting it at the dock or take it home. Bleach will kill the mold but will also bleed the colors and weaken the resin (what makes the sail “crinkly” and air tight). You can try using Woolite and your bathtub. There is no stretch in spinnaker cloth and the washing machine agitator will pull and weaken the fibers, if not actually tearing the sail. You could try a weak, colorfast bleach, but do so at your own peril.

Dacron is a lot more forgiving, you can use bleach in your soap bucket as well as CLR. Note that your sails will never become totally white and clean again, but they will look a lot less worse. Again, no machine washing. I tend to get a lot of salt spray on my sails so I wash them at least once a year on the driveway with a scrub brush on a long broom handle. I and will also hose them off on the boat several more times a season. New sails are way too expensive to replace so I am aggressive in my maintenance.



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post #3 of 14 Old 05-24-2010
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I would be VERY careful. On the issue of mildew; the best you can do is use a mixture of bleach but don't use more than 2% bleach by volume with water. Let the sail soak with it and keep it wet. You could use a bathtub or a large clean plastic garbage can if you want to soak it overnight.

To wash your sail lay it out on a clean lawn and mix woolite and a scoop of Oxyclean. Don't use bleach if the sail looks good with little mildew. Scrub it with a soft bristle brush (car washing pole brush); rinse well and then allow it to dry in the sun. Just turn it every hour or so and it will dry out despite sitting on the lawn.
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-25-2010
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I would avoid using a machine. i've used a garbage cann to soak smaller sails and now lay my large sails out on the lawn and hose them down and use a scrub mop and soap and water. Don't use strong cleaners directly or you risk damaging the sail.
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-25-2010
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I can second the other suggestions here to soak in a tub overnight or more with some detergent and then get it out on the lawn and give it a little bit of elbow grease. Hang it out to dry and you're done!

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post #6 of 14 Old 05-26-2010
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I normally just throw them in the swimming pool. It's a small pool, but it's large enough to soak them without 'packing' them in.

If there is a spot that needs to be scrubbed I lay them out on the grass and use purple power (similar to simple green) with a soft brush and hose it off.

Also do the brush routine if they have something on them that I don't want in the pool. When I purchased my trailer sailor, the sails had been stored in an open tote, with a couple bottles of purplish 2 stroke oil, nasty looking stains that came out very easily with the purple power and brush.

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post #7 of 14 Old 05-27-2010
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please provide some washing machines snaps regarding this topic
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-27-2010
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To get rid of rust stains, try oxalic acid. It's sold as wood bleach at hardware stores. I had a spinnaker with some nasty rust stains on it and it did a good job getting them out. Do not use normal bleach on rust stains, it will set them rather than get them out. It's also very bad for nylon spinnakers.

Starting rust stains, after one treatment with oxalic acid, and then after a second:




Another stain which took only one application to get out:

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post #9 of 14 Old 05-27-2010
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Another rust stain treated the same way:


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post #10 of 14 Old 05-27-2010
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I take mine to one of the DIY carwash places

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