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John Smith
03-23-2009, 06:58 AM
Mine are dacron. Main is, I'm afraid, just a bit too much for our washing machine, but maybe not.

Question is: what's the best way to wash them?

Most of the areas on mine that need to be cleaned are from leaves.

JimConlin
03-23-2009, 07:38 AM
DON'T put them in the washing machine.
Wait patiently and Todd will come along and answer your question.

Thorne
03-23-2009, 07:40 AM
Search the Forum, as this topic comes up frequently. Don't put 'em in the washing machine, don't use bleach or strong chemicals. Some stains just won't come out of Dacron without destroying it as a sail material.

Stu Fyfe
03-23-2009, 08:11 AM
A bath tub, mild laundry detergent and warm water. Let her soak awhile, then agitate the water by hand. Rinse well with cold water. Drain and rinse again. Find a clothes line or porch rail to dry her on.

Woxbox
03-23-2009, 08:34 AM
There are sail detergents sold that do a better job of getting out stains than laundry soap. But if you read the label, the active ingredient is the same stuff in the non-chlorine bleaches at the supermarket. But a bathtub is all you need.

banjoman
03-23-2009, 01:26 PM
A bath tub, mild laundry detergent and warm water. Let her soak awhile, then agitate the water by hand. Rinse well with cold water. Drain and rinse again. Find a clothes line or porch rail to dry her on.


Exactly what I did with Starduster's sails. Worked quite well.

I confess....I did use a little bleach on the genoa.:o

Todd Bradshaw
03-23-2009, 01:58 PM
The Dacron (polyester) fibers are actually pretty tough. It's the resins and coatings applied to them to turn it into stable sailcloth which will properly hold its designed shape that are most vulnerable. A soak in warm water with mild soap or detergent is a good place to start. You can then lay it out on a flat surface (a polytarp-covered driveway would be good and protect the sail from abrasion from the concrete) and scrub stubborn spots with a fairly soft brush. The potential problem with "miracle" cleaners is that you may run the risk of reducing the sail's lifespan by accidentaly changing or reducing the ability of the cloth's UV inhibiting coatings to do their job. Some of the extra "super" ingredients they put in those cleaners might do more harm than good and I don't think anybody has really studied their effects on coated, resinated sailcloth, so be careful. It's certainly possible that some of the modern super-detergents might be great for cleaning sails and the current methods haven't changed in 40 years, but it's unknown territory at the moment and would almost have to be tested with real sails in real conditions to find out much. Then we could get that Billy-Bob-What's-His-Name to yell some commercials for Super Sail Cleaner. For now though, UV is what kills most sails and the last thing you want to do is shorten their UV life by applying the wrong chemicals in an effort to clean them.

You do, however, want to get rid of as much dirt, salt and grit as possible before it works any farther into the weave and starts abrading the fibers and coatings. In the process, the sail should look better, but as mentioned, you may not get all the old stains out without damaging the fabric in the process. Most commercial spot removers are safe on Dacron sails and there are some specific chemicals that can be used to remove (or at least partially remove) specific types of stains (oil, grease, metallic stains, blood, etc.)

Bleach actually does work on sails and is pretty safe as long as you don't go nuts with it and it's still usually the best at removing, or at least reducing, mildew spots. The standard mix for soaking is 10 parts cold water to one part household bleach and a soak of 2-3 hours. As with anything applied to clean the sails, a REALLY good rinse with clean, fresh water is very important after the treatment. This should be followed by careful drying. The main portions will dry quite quickly, but any moisture that got down inside the reinforced areas, like multi-layered corner patches, will take quite a while to dry out. Failure to allow enough drying time usually ends up as mold down between the cloth layers and that won't ever come out.

Wooden Boat Fittings
03-24-2009, 06:01 AM
.
What about the adhesive that remains after you've removed unwanted stick-on sail numbers, Todd? Any ideas?

Mike

Dale Genther
03-24-2009, 06:42 AM
Wooden Boat Fittings, Sailrite used to have a method for removing this adhesive, either in their catalog or on their website, I forget which. I also don't remember what the method is, but you can look for yourself.

Todd Bradshaw
03-24-2009, 11:49 AM
Dabbing and eventually rubbing the goo off with benzene has always been the standard method for removing old sail number adhesive. Unfortunately, it is extremely nasty stuff to work with and the process is not a quick and easy one. I did it a couple times for customers back when I was doing a lot of repairs and then decided that it wasn't worth any amount of money and quit doing it. If I had to do one today, I might be tempted to start with Goo-Gone or naptha instead and see what kind of results I could get. Though still solvents, they're at least a fair bit less nasty to work with and I think Goo-Gone is what Sailrite is currently suggesting for the task.

Most of the suppliers sell a couple versions of sticky-backed insignia Dacron these days. The newer, more expensive version is designed to be removable later without leaving glue on the sail and it seems to stick and last just about as well as the original version. So if you're ever buying a hunk of the stuff for repairs, numbers, etc. and see two versions available, it's probably worth going with the more expensive one. Since "no goo left behind" is a big selling point, it will usually tell you about it in the discription.

Also be aware that any temporary patch made with a material that leaves adhesive behind (old-style sticky-back Dacron, duct tape, etc.) presents a bit of a repair problem. Sewing machines don't like running over sticky residue. The stitch quality goes down the tubes and they may not work at all. In addition, it can gum up the mechanism, requiring the sailmaker to waste two or three hours disassembling, cleaning, reassembling and re-timing the machine. I won't even try to sew over that stuff, so if it has a small hole with a big sticky patch, I just cut out everything that's sticky and you may end up with a bigger patch than you thought you would.

Ted Hoppe
01-13-2010, 02:00 AM
I recently read that one could soak the sails in a chlorinated swimming pool for a few hours then hang dry them.

Anybody tried this? I plan on doing this over the weekend - with a older dacron sail. I'll post my results.

Larks
01-13-2010, 04:34 AM
I recently read that one could soak the sails in a chlorinated swimming pool for a few hours then hang dry them.

Anybody tried this? I plan on doing this over the weekend - with a older dacron sail. I'll post my results.

Funny that this thread has come up again today, I just spent the morning washing mine. My main had some mould on it so I layed iy out on a big tarp on the front lawn and went to work with a brrom and sugar soap then rinsed well and hung it up in the shed to dry. It has come up beautifully.

PeterSibley
01-13-2010, 05:00 AM
Thanks Greg ...I was looking at some s/h mains yesterday , cleaning would be necessary !

62816inBerlin
01-13-2010, 05:13 AM
After I found that my sails fitted in our washer (total sail area 14 mē), ona at a time, I washed them in it some years ago, using a standard detergent.
Most of the stains came out (mostly spider* droppings) but the sails were terribly creased, although I had turned the spin-dry function off.
A long session with a moderately warm (low setting) flatiron did away with the worst creasing, but dacron seems to have a good shape memory. However, in spite of being roughly 30 years old, the sails still stand up to a fair old blow, although they are DEFINITELY no longer in top racing shape. But on a day sailer, who cares?

* on our inland waterways, our little cabin is a favourite dry place for spiders. That why the boat was re-named "Anansi", after the mythical spider-man of Caribbean/West African folk lore.

Gernot H.

Lewisboats
01-13-2010, 10:02 AM
Try some light vegetable oil or mineral oil on that glue residue...works like a charm on most glues used for that type of adhesion. Rub it on and let it work on the glue for a day or two, then rub more on and continue as the glue comes off.

xtiffer
01-13-2010, 11:12 AM
Try some light vegetable oil or mineral oil on that glue residue...works like a charm on most glues used for that type of adhesion. Rub it on and let it work on the glue for a day or two, then rub more on and continue as the glue comes off.

3M Adhesive Remover works a treat for me getting rid of old
masking tape. Should handle this easily.
Cheers,
Chris

Todd Bradshaw
01-13-2010, 11:48 AM
I don't know squat about swimming pools, but I doubt there is anything in there that would hurt the sail (may not be enough of anything to help much compared to plain water either). However, the part which is missing from your scenario is a very good clean water rinse after the soaking. Leaving any chemicals on the sail afdter cleaning often tends to speed up U.V. damage, which is probably the biggest sail killer of all.

As to the washing machine and ironing treatment, it's a good thing that it was a tired old sail, because that's a great way to totally ruin a good one. If you're smart and your sails still have decent fabric stability, it's a very bad idea.

Ted Hoppe
01-13-2010, 01:00 PM
Oh yeah, a good rinsing too before the drying.

I am trying to wash out what my crew calls "the seamen stains" a series of brown diner plate sized spots in the middle of my genoa. It could be rust, blood or old mold spots. Hopefully whiter sails will make us feel faster.

If no success, I plan on using dye, wax and a large stensil to make a three bridge fiasco war jib!

Bob Cleek
01-13-2010, 05:38 PM
I recently became addicted to "Goof-Off." It's sold everywhere in paint stores for removing latex paint spots and graffiti. They sell it in little lighter fluid-type cans, but you can also get it in quart bottles for a fraction of the price of the little cans. (Get a little can and refill it from the big can. Use the big can for soaking a rag for big jobs.) I've found this stuff is a very good solvent for cleaning small paint brushes I use in modeling. Just a drop from the small can's applicator nozzle, applied three or four times, and dried with a paper towel, will clean a fine brush perfectly and conveniently works just as well for oil or water based paint.

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

This stuff also is fantastic for removing adhesive residue. It evaporates quickly and does not leave any oily residue. Doesn't "gas" you like a lot of the industrial solvents, is readily available in the hardware and paint stores and is relatively cheap. Try it, you'll like it.

Todd Bradshaw
01-13-2010, 06:52 PM
Rust - Soak the area in a 5% solution (1 oz. per pint) of oxalic acid and hot water - soak, brush as needed, rinse well and dry.

Blood - Soak stained area in cold water containing 1/2 cup amonia per 1/2 gal. water - soak, brush, rinse, dry.

Mold - Scrub (dry stiff brush). Then soak the area for 2 hours in 1 part bleach to 10 parts cold water, brush more as needed, and rinse well.

If the stains happen to be rusty, moldy blood, I guess you would have to do all three :)

Stu Fyfe
01-13-2010, 07:09 PM
Bob's right as usual. Goof Off is right up there with WD40.

darroch
01-13-2010, 10:18 PM
...am I the only one with Vaseline stains:(? from the oarlocks.