I''m sure the question has been asked before: What protocol should be used to clean and store sails for the winter. I know there are avialable services that do this, but I''m somewhat of a commited do-it-yourself-er. Thanks
If you are not on fresh water, minimally the sail should be hosed off throoughly and wiped dry with a sponge to remove salt. Once it has dried it should be carefully inspected for holes, chafe, and worn thread areas. Cringles, eyes, headboards and other hardware should be inspected for wear and attachment. Any problem areas should be repaired. I prefer to roll my sails rather then fold them but they should be carefully rolled or folded and put away in a cool space and protected from light.
I don''t like the idea of using detergents, although many people do use mild detergents, and I don''t like the idea of putting sails in a washing machine.
Jeff is quite right on that one. Washing your sails in a machine should only be done by a pro! Washing them yourself is a big no no. The fabric''s fill and warp threads will soften very quickly, they will come out as soft as a 5 year old, well used set of sails. Don''t do it! Check a local sail loft about a cleaner they trust.
I''ve been washing my sails for a couple of years....can''t see that they have suffered from it and they look great.
I use woolite and 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water for general cleaning. Woolite is a gentle soap and the bleach will kill any mildew spores that may be on your sail.
For stubborn dirt I use a little spray and wash and a small brush to loosen the dirt before general washing with the woolite. But go easy on the spray and wash as it is apparently a strong detergent.
Spread the sail out on your drive way or other large hard surface and scrub the sail with a soft bristle brush. My sail is fairly large (Islander 36), so I do 1/2 at a time. Then turn it over end for end to do the other side.
The hard part about all this is finding a place to hang the sail to rinse it off and let it dry. I have access to an aircraft hanger, so it is easy to hang the sail from the rafters. If you use your driveway maybe you have a couple of handy trees? Hang the sail with lines tied to the luff i.e. head and tack.
VERY IMPORTANT! don''t scrub the sail directly on the concrete as it will abrade the sail cloth! I use a blue plastic tarp under my sail. It makes a good scrub surface between the sail and the concrete.
If you have rust spots mix 1 Tbsp of Oxalic Acid in 1 cup of HOT water. Apply solution and let it sit for about an hour. It may take a second application, but the stain will be gone or at least be much lighter.
All of the above assumes we are talking about Dacron sails. Havent had any experience with laminated sails, but imagine they require a different method of cleaning.