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Sail cleaning products

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Category: General
Forum Name: Chit Chat
Forum Description: Talk about anything to do with your boat
Printed Date: 29 November 2020 at 07:28
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.01 -

Topic: Sail cleaning products
Posted By: Richard M
Subject: Sail cleaning products
Date Posted: 15 September 2020 at 17:14
Despite (or maybe because of) hardly using the boat at all this year the sails are all looking a little grubby in places. 

The mainsail is a North in mast furling sail and the final part of the clew/sail that is exposed when the sail has been furled is decidedly grubby. As is the self tacking North jib - especially along the foot of the sail. Both are made in North's FCL material. I had the jib laundered last year - but I don't think it made a massive difference.

My question is simple: has anyone found an effective sail cleaning product that can be used to "spot clean"? (I've attempted to upload photos but have failed to achieve this)

Many thanks


Richard M

(S/Y BrightStar - H 455 #90; ex S/Y Providence - H 400e #290)

Posted By: Trond Arve
Date Posted: 01 November 2020 at 12:30

I just had both my main sail and selftacking jib in the bath tub 😊.
Happy with the result

Got a tip from North Sails supplier in Norway. He said 2-3% chlorine in water would do the trick. It's important to clean the sails really good with fresh water after 2-3 hours in the chlorine bath. 

Posted By: Pzucchel
Date Posted: 01 November 2020 at 16:46
I am aware that chlorine is a polyamide killer (nylon), but maybe with a thorough rinse the consequences are minimized... 


Posted By: Richard M
Date Posted: 02 November 2020 at 10:46
Thanks Trond

You must have a very large bath tub!

I used to wash my sails at home - not in the bath tub for (big) yacht sails - only dinghy sails. I'd spread out yacht sails for my previous boats (up to 30 feet) on plastic sheeting on the lawn and then clean using a hose pipe spray, a soft brush and liquid soap. Worked well. And for some years I used to clean the running rigging in the jacuzzi (spa bath) until my wife found out. I gave up trying to clean sails on boats above 30 feet.

But now I can barely lift the sails on my H455 - I have to get someone else to do this. 

I am simply trying to "patch clean" small areas on the main sail (ie the small triangle that is permanently exposed outside of the mast) and a few areas on the foot of the jib.

I've just had the running rigging cleaned by Inspiration Marine - the UK dealer. They used vinegar and a low pressure jet wash. The rigging has come up well. However once again I believe we are not supposed to access our boats (unless they are our primary homes) under the Government's coronavirus regulations so I have yet to enjoy the feel of soft, clean halyards & sheets.

Best wishes


Richard M

(S/Y BrightStar - H 455 #90; ex S/Y Providence - H 400e #290)

Posted By: Trond Arve
Date Posted: 02 November 2020 at 11:11

Vinegar and spot cleaning is gonna be my way of cleaning next year. 
And hopefully I will get it done on a sunny 🌞 day before end of season. Outdoor and not in my tub. Which isn't big but just mange the size of my sails 😊.
Let's hope that 2021 will make a change to the corona situation to the better!

Ps; I have also heard of chlorine being a product that's needed to be used carefully. Therefore freshwater rinsing after is Moi importante.

Have a nice week 🏄‍♂️🏄‍♂️🏄‍♂️

Posted By: StavrosNZ
Date Posted: 02 November 2020 at 20:15
Sail lofts use Algae/Mildew Biocide - Synthecol Quad, its non bleach or chlorine based biocide that mixed with water kills all mold and algae but wont harm cloth or stitching on your sails.

2010 H400 #691, Auckland, New Zealand

Posted By: Black Diamond
Date Posted: 03 November 2020 at 21:17
My experience is that you *CAN'T* easily clean a laminate sail.    While surface dirt can be cleaned, the mildew (or measles) that spot the sail are actually inside the layers.   Its one of the things that sailmakers have been lying about (opinion) for years.    While they speak of using biocide in the laminate as well as other techniques, spots still appear and make a 2 or 3 year old sail look 15 years old.

Maybe the Synthecol Quad works,  but its got to be an expensive treatment.    Even if its cleaned, they will come back.  

While my current Hanse has the Elvstrom EPEX sails,  a less expensive option used on my last boat was making the sails out of Hydranet.   ts the only woven cloth you can really make a high performing, radial cut, sail from. Those sails are now 12 years old and still going strong with the new owner.    Since its woven,  you just take a brush and soap to the sail and it comes clean quickly.  No mildew in the layers since there are no layers.  


S/V Black Diamond
Hanse 575 Build #192, Hull# 161
Newport, RI

Posted By: StavrosNZ
Date Posted: 03 November 2020 at 21:26
My Doyle Stratis laminated sails are now 8 years old, i get very small areas of mold where water sits in fold of the main in stack-pack and folds of furled headsail. 

I spray with diluted "wet and forget" (Synthicol) from small hand pressure sprayer and have no issues with mold or algae inside the lamination at all, mostly always on outer surface.

Shape and performance benefits of laminated sails over the life of the sail win for me everytime.

2010 H400 #691, Auckland, New Zealand

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