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What is the best way to spot clean a sail?

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caguy

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Sep 22, 2006
4,003
Catalina, Luger C-27, Adventure 30 Marina del Rey
I tried cleaning it with detergent and with Folex fabric cleaner. The stuff usually works on everything. It lightened it some but the stain is still there. I comes from the Genoa rubbing on the bow pulpit. I didn't notice that it looked that bad until looking at some pictures of it.

BTW: After a month and a half with no boat, they are finally moving the boats back into the mastup storage area. The upside is I got relocated to an end slot, where I only have to worry about hitting one boat. Should be able to sail this weekend. :dance:
 

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Dec 2, 1999
15,184
Hunter Vision-36 Rio Vista, CA.
Search the internet! There is a lot of info out there. The dacron can take a lot of cleaners that may not seem to be okay, but take a look at some different sites for what can be used and what cannot be used. Remember if you are dealing with a nylon sail, the treatment is different.

This is just one example of come of the common problems and treatments:

http://www.canvasandsails.com/cleaning.htm

I did an article from a lot of research a few years ago but I cannot find it again.
 

caguy

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Sep 22, 2006
4,003
Catalina, Luger C-27, Adventure 30 Marina del Rey
WoW 144 views and only 1 response!

Doesn't anyone clean their sails?
Thanks for the for the link Steve. I was hesitant to try a solution of bleach but I feel a little more comfortable now. I will give it a shot next time I'm at the boat. Hopefully this weekend.
They won't know until tomorrow if the gate card key system will be up and running.
 
Dec 2, 1999
15,184
Hunter Vision-36 Rio Vista, CA.
Frank:

If you have any doubts, be sure to survey some other sites on sail cleaning I think you will find that most of the information from the professionals agrees with this.
 

RichH

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Feb 14, 2005
4,775
Tayana 37 cutter; I20/M20 SCOWS Worton Creek, MD
For white woven DACRON, not 'laminated' dacron (not cruising laminate) use any Sodium Silicate based detergent ... will remove (dissolve fungus, mildew, 'air pollution', etc. then rinse well with PLENTY of water.
For any remaining staining from rust, tannins, blood, etc. ('brown stuff') use oxalic acid (straight oxalic - 'wood bleach', Barkeepers Friend Cleanser, Zud, or any cleanser using oxalic acid as it bleaching component .... just dont scrub, just let it soak. Rinse with plenty of clean water to remove the oxalic when done.

Been making, cutting, lofting my own sails for almost 40 years and for WOVEN dacron I've not found any better method for sail cleaning. The above NOT to be used on any laminated or dyed sail material.
:-D
 

caguy

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Sep 22, 2006
4,003
Catalina, Luger C-27, Adventure 30 Marina del Rey
Thanks Rich I just happen to have some wood bleach. Can't wait for the weekend so I can get my hands on the boat.
 
Jun 21, 2007
2,093
Hunter Cherubini 36_80-82 Sausalito / San Francisco Bay
Get other opinions before trying this because I don't know if it might cause damage to the sail fabric on a smaller level than can be seen with the naked eye.

Several weeks ago, I took down my Genoa to put up a smaller headsail for the upcoming heavy SF Bay winds starting in spring through summer. The Genoa had dirty spots along the leach and in several other locations. Combination of brown tanin-like stains and mildew. So before stowing the Genoa away, I went to clean it. A combination of all sorts of cleaners followed by a garden hose rinse helped some, but the messiness was still there. I even tried industrial "purple" cleaner; the stuff that will even break down grease off an engine block. I applied it full strength. Not diluted with water as per the instructions.

I eventually moved on to a riskier method... My power washer restored the bad spot areas to clean again. The pressure washer is one of those ~$100 electric models with about 1300 psi. I made sure the nozzle was set to the wide fan pattern. Certainly not the concentrated pencil stream. Also kept it several inches away from the sail. A distance that will sting your hand a bit, but won't draw blood. So I thought it probably safe for tough dacron fabric. The sail is very clean now. I think that the cleaning solutions did in fact loosen the stains from the fabric, but even the pressure of a garden hose would not fully dislodge the dirt from within the weave. Needed a bit more force. Mine's an old sail. Several years left for sure, but its not anybody's pride and joy. I probably wouldn't have tried pressure-washing a newer sail. But maybe it really doesn't do harm?
 

caguy

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Sep 22, 2006
4,003
Catalina, Luger C-27, Adventure 30 Marina del Rey
My genoa is on a furler, with the power washer I can spray it while its on the boat.
Did you put any solutions in your washer. I have one that I use for the boat 2500 psi. that has a syphon for soap solution.
 
Last edited:
Jun 21, 2007
2,093
Hunter Cherubini 36_80-82 Sausalito / San Francisco Bay
CaGuy:

No, already applied the cleaners using a brush when the genoa was on my back yard deck. Fresh H2O only from the power washer.

Does the power washing with the sail still up keep it clean? How do you handle the over spray onto neighbors boats?

regards,
rardi
 

RichH

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Feb 14, 2005
4,775
Tayana 37 cutter; I20/M20 SCOWS Worton Creek, MD
Dont use a powerwasher on sails.
Many of the woven dacron sails have a 'plasticizer' that is applied (rolled into the fabric under huge high pressure rollers) to 'fill' the open spaces, etc. between the weave of fibers. Additionally such pressure washing may also relax the 'crimp' in the individual fibers; the crimp holding all the fibers in place which keeps the fabric dimensionally stable. Its what makes high quality woven dacron so 'stiff' and dimensionally stable (less stretchy). If you remove or damage the plasticizer, then your sail may become as 'soft' as wet toilet paper.

This is the very same reason that you dont put sails into a 'washing machine'. :-D

Caguy ... suggest you 'clean' the sail with any **inorganic** detergent (as above) before you 'bleach' it with oxalic, etc.
 
Jun 21, 2007
2,093
Hunter Cherubini 36_80-82 Sausalito / San Francisco Bay
Dear RichH:

Thanks for adding the warnings about pressure washing. That's why I opened with a "get other opinions before trying".

My previous attempts to clean my older sails with various cleaning detergents, bleaches, etc that I've seen on sail care sites usually resulted in only modest success. With the sail(s) laid out on my deck (which is synthetic wood that the cleaners don't affect), I've even applied after dark on a cool evening, so the solution will remain wet during night allowing a longer chance to work.

I can certainly see the importance of not damaging the plasticizer infused into the fabric. But for an older sail, which is already "soft" in this respect (i.e. the plasticizer has already broken down through the years and has lost most of its effectiveness), can you opine if higher velocity water rinse than from a garden hose is likely to cause much more degradation to dacron than already exists?

Although I know that my older sails have long ago stretched out and lost performance efficiency, they are still functional for the purpose of getting the boat around the harbor. And with diligent trimming, I can acheive reasonable shape appearance under sail. (As long as I don't point too much to the max into the wind anyway!) But I want that my sails don't look too dingy and soiled.

Being somewhat new to sailing and boat maintenance, I'm doing my best to read up on various and think things through ... but sometimes arriving at the wrong conclusion. So bear with me as I query further ... thanks.

I'll value your recommendation.

regards,
rardi
 
Apr 21, 2006
13
Macgregor 26X Pirates Cove, Alabama
Does anyone have any first hand experience using SAILCARES' LaMauney cleaning process ? Supposedly bring the sail back to 'like new ' condition
 

caguy

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Sep 22, 2006
4,003
Catalina, Luger C-27, Adventure 30 Marina del Rey
This is the original genoa from 1984. It is still in pretty good shape. It is made of Dacron and is still fairly crisp. I just have that one spot where it rubs. Since adding the furler the bottom has been raised so it misses the pulpit. When did they start plasticizing versus starching sails?
 
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