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So, about to clean my sails at home, I am wondering how you seasoned sailers do this, such as what cleaner you use? and how you apply the cleaner.
I was going to hang the sail on the clothes line and spray the soap/cleaner on the sail let it sit for a bit and then rinse thoroughly. Am I going about this the right way?

Thanks for any tips and techniques., yes I am new to doing this.
 

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Freedom isn't free
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I'd like to hear as well.... but I recall someone saying use a 33 gallon trash can to wash them in.
 

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It's best, if possible, to keep the sails as flat as you can so as not to crease them, whether they're Dacron or laminate. So spread them out on a deck, or in a grassy area. Yacht clubs aren't good for much, but they often have an area ripe for sail cleaning.

Spray down, and then with a soft brush, scrub the soap on. We always used Biz with its enzyme bleach. Rinse. Flip over, then do the other side.

Now if possible, it's nice to hang the sail by its corners and rinse it and leave hung to dry. If you have access to a tall building or some trees you can rig a tackle to hoist the sails.
 

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Here's a process for woven dacron sails that Ive been using for many many years for outstanding results. Its similar to the same 'washing' process for new (greige) polyester fabrics during manufacture.
This process extracts most dirt, funguses (those millions of 'teeny black spots') and 'brown' staining from tannins and iron.
For WHITE Woven dacron only, NOT for dacron 'laminates' or other laminates:

Note - Its best to clean the sail ON THE BOAT; but, the boat cannot have any exposed bare exterior teak or other bare wood including large areas of imperfectly varnished, etc. wood, bare teak decks, etc. as the 'detergent' will extract tannins from the bare wood ... including 'pin holes' and dings in the surface coating (varnish/Cetol/etc.). All 'canvas', etc. should also be removed.
This process is NOT used for 'colored' nor dyed sail material.
Due to the potency/strength and high 'alkalinity' / caustic nature of sodium silicate based detergents you really should/must be wearing eye protection, gloves, and foul weather gear - Sodium silicate detergents will begin to dissolve your skin/corneas, etc. so BE CAREFUL and wear 'protection' - goggles, gloves, foul weather gear, etc.
When bleaching in step 2 - you MUST have this protection on as oxalic acid will quickly absorb through your skin and form sharp crystals in the nephrons of your kidneys - instant kidney stones / kidney damage is a possibility without 'protection'.
Dacron polyester is immune to attack by sodium silicate and other strong 'caustic' detergents.

Detergent: a strong sodium silicate based detergent - ie.: 'Roll-off', 'Tuff-eNuff', etc.
Bleach: Oxalic Acid Crystals (wood bleach - from a paint or hardware store)

On a WINDLESS, high humidity, and cloudy day ....
Preparation
• CLEAN THE DECK thoroughly, as woven dacron is a 'dirt magnet' especially when wet.

Step 1
• Slowly raise the sail while spritzing on the detergent and while spreading the detergent with a 4ft-6ft. long handled soft bristle scrub brush. Apply to both sides as you raise the sail. Spritz with water as needed to keep the sail fabric 'wetted'
• Immediately drop the sail to the deck and cover with a plastic tarp to prevent the sail from drying. Let the sail soak for approx 20± minutes - soak time is important, especially for the extraction and dissolving of embedded fungals (all those teeny 'black spots'), oils, and most 'dirt'.
• Slowly raise the sail as you scrub with the long handled soft bristle brush. Apply additional detergent as needed to keep the sail 'wetted'. Spritz with a garden/dock hose as needed.
• Drop the sail back to the deck and cover with a plastic tarp, and let soak for another ~20± minutes
• Repeat raising, scrubbing, wetting, soaking for another 20± minutes.
• With dock/garden hose (open at 'full blast') slowly raise the sail while 'blasting' with the water hose.
• Repeat cleaning with detergent, etc. on the small areas of 'stubborn' dirt, etc. .... stains will be removed in step #2.
• Raise and repeatedly RINSE until ALL 'suds', detergent and liquified dirt etc. is removed, then recover with tarp.
Its important to NOT let the sail 'dry out' during any portion of the above.
ALL ' caustic detergent MUST be removed and the sail THOROUGHLY rinsed before proceeding to step #2 !!!!

Step 2 - Tannins, iron staining extraction and bleaching:
Note (REPEAT) - ALL 'detergent' MUST be fully rinsed out of fabric before proceeding with below steps.
• Obtain a 'pint' of oxalic acid crystals (wood bleach) from paint or hardware store.
• pour 'most' of the crystals into an empty (2 gallon / 4-5 litre) bucket and then slowly pour HOT water into bucket. The goal is to not dissolve ALL the oxalic acid crystals - you should use just 'enough' HOT water so that there are a few undissolved crystals in the bottom of the bucket (a 'saturated' oxalic solution - in 'chemist speak')
MUST have full protection ON for the following steps !!!!!!
• Slowly raise the sail while applying oxalic acid solution with long handled scrub brush to both sides of sail ... bleaching should be 'almost instantaneous' (if you extracted 'most' of the dirt in step #1); drop sail back to deck and recover with tarp or repeat raising and applying if staining remains.
• Raise, lower while rinsing several times with water to extract remaining oxalic.
• Raise fully rinsed sail and let fully dry ... or go sailing until dry.



Other
• Apply unused oxalic acid solution to water-line/topsides/bow to remove 'brown mustache' caused by tannins and iron in the water.
• Re-wax the boat !!!! - sodium silicate based detergents will extract and 'strip' wax from gelcoat, etc. ... such old 'dead' and oxidized wax should be extracted periodically anyway, as such promotes and accelerates surface oxidization of the gel - IMO.

hope this helps
 

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Jesus... ask an engineer, and this is what you get.

A simple scrub down with Barkeeper's Friend (which has oxalic acid in it), and a very thorough rinse, works for me. It helps if you don't let them get super nasty to begin with.
 

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Jesus... ask an engineer, and this is what you get.

A simple scrub down with Barkeeper's Friend (which has oxalic acid in it), and a very thorough rinse, works for me. It helps if you don't let them get super nasty to begin with.
Well, ... agree to some extent.

Dacron sails/cloth are waxed from start. You do not want this to disappear. That means: do not use any detergents, not anything that strongly solve wax. I would stay away from acids (they are actually not so strong wax solvents) and very much sodiums.
Normal soap is the best.

Stary with having the sails in water overnight. that solves the salts. Rinse.
New bath, use some soap. Not much. Do not brush - it is the wax again.
Rinse & dry.

/J
an engineer.
 

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Polyester is among one of the most common chemically resistant synthetic fabric/fibers of modern times. Its chemical compatible with most household chemicals with the exception of strong inorganic oxidizing acids, some of the more 'potent' organic solvents. A quick perusal of just about any internet 'chemical compatibility' chart/guide will verify such .... and those guides are for long term contact/exposure, not a total 60+ minute 'wash' and rinse. Do websearch: "chemical compatibility" + polyester

2. 'Wax' has not been added to (ethical) polyester manufacture, processing, fabrics since the late ~1950s. From that time 'incidental waxes' are removed from polyester before final processing. What is applied to woven dacrcon/terylene fabrics to make them less air-permeable (and stiffer) is a plasticizer which is an analogue of polyester - a styrene analogue that this 'heat calendered' into the matrix of the woven fabric and which 'electronically' binds with the polyester fibers. It does not 'wash out'. Yes, waxes were sometimes added to cheap (asian) polyester sail fabric up until the early 1980s. Anyone still have 'first generation' Neil Pryde or LAM sails ... ones that turned dingy/black because the atmospheric FUNGUS' were eating the damn wax? but your threw those sails away because they were unstable to prematurely and permanently stretching and remained 'out of shape' because the fabric was made with wax instead of using fabric with proper fiber 'crimp' and proper 'plasticizers' to fill the weave.

3. the use of 'cleansers' on dacron sail fabric will eventually produce severe long term and 'untowards' effects as the 'grit' and ground-up GLASS (diatomaceous earth - fossilized glass skeletons of diatoms) used in common 'cleansers' are quite abrasive with fabrics. Why in the hell anyone would advocate using ground-up fossil-glass and grinding/polishing compounds on sail fabric is ... simply and totally beyond belief.


What I previously outlined, in laborious detail (sorry to bore those who are terrorized by technical/science), is essentially the exact same processing methods used to CLEAN and prepare manufactured (greige) polyester fabric for final processing (heat-dyeing and 'printing')... the exact same applies to dirty woven polyester dacron/terylene sails.
You dont use 'cleanser' on your polyE clothes do you?
You can iron your polyester clothing, no? ... and not get a WAX release onto the ironing board (at least not since the mid-1960s)?

Such as what I have previously offered for DIY cleaning, has been very successful for me (and many many DIY-others over the years) for cleaning woven dacron sails (the prime purpose of cleaning to extend the service life of the fabric) ..... for about 40 years. I used to (a long time ago) engineer polyester fiber & fabric processing; plus, I make/made and loft(ed) my own sails during those 40 years for several boats that I successfully 'campaigned'.

The simple and most elegant statement I can make/offer regards DIY cleaning of woven dacron sails: ... polyester used in woven sail material is the EXACT SAME POLYESTER used in fiberglass sailboat hull, etc; construction ..... therefore one can reasonably assume that 'anything' you can or do use to clean your Gelcoat/fiberglass will be OK for your woven polyester dacron/terylene sail !!!!!!!!!

;-)
 

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I have some nasty rust stains on my jib sail - the rust came with the sail. Anyone have a safe and sound method of removing rust stains from dacron sails?

A couple folks recommended Oxi-Clean, but some others said absolutely not to use the stuff and it could damage the sails. Same with oxalic acid.

Gary :cool:
 

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Here are sail cleaning tips from Port Townsend Sails (arguably one of the best lofts in the world). Hasse makes cleaning sails a much easier proposition than some of the advice in this thread. I have not tried her methods personally, but would certainly give it a go before any method that requires donning a haz-mat suit. ;)

http://www.porttownsendsails.com/pdf/sail_cleaning.pdf
 

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I used Simple Green and a nylon brush and they came out great on some old sales I had I wanted to sell.
 

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I hate to say it, but this is another thread started by a bot. Good information has resulted, but the user's account should be terminated.

Yes to being a bot. I've not tracked them all down but at least some of 'his' posts are lifted hollus bollus from earlier threads.
 
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