Sailboat sails can be subjected to all sorts of maladies when they have been exposed to the atmosphere or during storage, such as oxidation, dust, salt, mildew stains, fish blood, oil, gas and other harmful debris. Keeping sails clean and strong can be achieved with regular maintenance and inspections. The sailboat owner should know precisely the fabric design and makeup of his sails to insure the proper cleaning method. Dacron, nylon and canvass have their own peculiarities, and must be cleaned in different ways with different chemicals. The sailboat owner can achieve satisfactory results if he pays attention to the different cleaning methods that apply to his sails.
Remove the sails from the boat, including clips and rigging. Find a large, clean surface to lay the sails upon. Do not lay the sails on a heavily porous surface, sand or gravel. Locate a car wash that has a large surface area within the cleaning stall. Sweep the stall area if mud, sand and gravel appears. Stretch the sail out to its full length.
Use cleaner's benzene for any spots on the sail (Dacron material) that have glue, silicon or any other adhesive. Dab a clean rag with benzene solution and scrub the area until the adhesive material lifts away from the fabric. Wash with mild soap and water, then rinse. Let air dry completely.
Clean nylon sails by immersing them in a bathtub, letting them soak in a mild solution of dish washing soap. Scrub them lightly with a soft bristle brush. Flush-rinse with plenty of clean water. Let them air dry completely.