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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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Old 07-10-2008
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Do you wash your sails?

I recently dropped my mast to do some work on it and while I had the sails off I figured I'd wash them off. I layed them out on the dock and used the same bio friendly soap I use for the hull,my boat brush and a hose. I washed away alot of crud and salt and saw some improvement. But I was told by my fellow sailors I was doing more harm than good. Well I was raised to take care of things so I finished the job and flipped them over and did the other side. Much to there shagrin. The sails are up now and nice and white, but did I waste my time or hurt my sails?
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Old 07-10-2008
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I have heard that the wrong detergents will wear at the material.

So far, once every other year I pull my sails and take them to a sail-loft for a cleaning and repair job. It's a 1 or 2 hundred bucks but it makes me sure no seams are failing and the sails get cleaned correctly.

Long story short, you may have done some damage, but your sails aren't going to fall apart because of one washing. I'd suggest a sail loft next time.
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Old 07-10-2008
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I take mine to a sail loft, i.e., Potomac Sailmakers in Alexandria for cleaning / repairs or send 'em to Sail Care in Pennsylvania for restoration
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Old 07-10-2008
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According to Don Casey, he says use a mild detergent.

I had my main at home to fix a seam rip, so I layed it out on the lawn and brushed it with some car wash soap. They came out nice.
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Old 07-10-2008
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I wash my sails every time I sail in the rain...

I doubt you did any harm. If you're loosing sleep you could ask a reputable sailmaker, though they do have an interest in telling you that they are the only ones that can clean them...

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Old 07-10-2008
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I wash mine every year. Spread them out on the lawn and use a litttle well diluted mild detergent. No sign of any damage and a couple of them are 25 years old!
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Old 07-10-2008
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I can't see how a mild detergent--or a real SOAP like Ivory flakes--and gentle washing, could do any harm. Some of the more aggressive detergents, or bleach, could attack the cloth or thread or the coating (if there's any coating left) but plain soap and reasonable elbow grease? No way that could hurt.
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Old 07-10-2008
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One season of UV will do much more damage than washing.
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Old 07-10-2008
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Why use soap?!?

Nobody freaks out about the sails being "damaged" if they get wet if (a) it happens to rain with the sails up or (b) they get happen to get dunked overboard in a bad drop, so I can't see any reason to be worried out washing them.

Plain tap water will get the salt off - but IMHO anything fancier should be left to the experts.
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Old 07-10-2008
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How to clean sails, buy your self a kids pool. Put water in the pool. put your sails in it along with any brand of sail cleaner. Invite the neighborhood kids over!
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