Sail Cleaning

Sail Cleaning

Items to be aware of when sail cleaning & some tip’s how to keep them proper

In our RED GULL sail cleaning process, the highest priority is not to reduce the actual technical quality of a sails cloth in the cleaning process, as happens when tumbling in washing machines. This way we make sure that when sail cleaning as within the SAIL REGENERATION process, a sail can really gain in quality again.

Originally the cleaning of a sail was done at the end of it’s lifetime, i.o. to prevent it from taking damages through unqualified cleaning methods or tumbling in big washing machines, similar to those used in households.

At these treatments the last bit of life was, litterally beaten out of the sail, and often returned to the owner as waiste.

sail cleaning

Full water absorption by a Dacron genoa, no functional proofing existant

A sail cleaning process will always influence the sails protective treatments, which makes reinstallation very recommendable to keep a sail protected against humidity, dirts and not to forget stabilize the profile. That’s the main reason why we  discourage sail cleaning without reinstallation of a protective coating. Only a suitable coating like the RED GULL Regeneration coating will repair the  fabrics protection amnd surface after the sail cleaning and  help keeping the profile at the right position.

Mostly unknown is the stabilizing function of a coating, it is the standard tool in woven sailcloth for stability and maintenance of the sails profile. Since sail cleaning processes reduce the coatings functionality, it may be weekened in this function!
A wash impregnation as offerd by textile and carpet cleaning company’s for treatment of sails, can do a short term function in rejecting humidity, but will not help in the other aspects.

Laminated sails have some special demands in sail cleaning

A laminated sail usually consists of several layers of cloth of different composition. Between the tafetta layers, the visible exterior layers, is a layer of Mylar foil and/or a layer of scrims. All held together by glue, commonly polyester glue.

Fungus mildew in a sail

Mold in the inner of a Laminate shows as in the circle, contrasts in circle adapted for better visibility

A mold spreading out in the inner of the laminate construction of the sail, may lead at a certain moment to delaminations.

Therefore you should be much more careful handling laminated sails, than with woven sails.

For most Laminates a dry storage is essential for a longer life.

Prevention would have been better than to cure the problem afterwards!

The best way to keep your sails proper, is to prevent pollution as much as possible. Remove the sails from your yacht as often as possible and store them dry when you don’t use them, in the cabin, under deck, as they did in the past. Observe a boat owned by a sailmaker!

For genoa’s, in special for laminated genoa’s, realise, that the furling system was designed to reduce the sails surface when winds go stronger. It was never designed to be a storage system. Uncovered sails, specially laminated ones, may fairly quickly soak water and get covered with mold, black run off strokes and algae.

Do never rely on the UV protection as a full protection for your sail: It only protects against UV radiation, no dirt, no humidity, no insects!

If you plan to keep sails attached longterm to boom and furling system, make sure you have decent water- and UV-proof covers and use woven sails prior to laminated ones.

Using furling sail covers can be tricky. Realise there will be little to no ventilation inside a tightly strapped furling cover. So do not cover sails when wet. If you do so, ventilate them preferably next day, latest or 1-2 days, till the sail is dry or the sail will almost certainly develop mold.

© 2017 RED GULL Oy