yacht sail mildew prevention

Sail Washing

To keep your sails in tip-top shape and avoid the spread of mildew and other air-born fungicides you should have your sails washed and checked over annually. Sails that are washed and maintained on an annual basis stay in better shape and last longer than those that are not.

sail washing mildew
A freshly-washed mainsail for a 106’ sloop in our humidity controlled drying facility.

Sail Maintenance

There are many levels of annual washing/maintenance that you may choose to employ with your sailmaker. At Sailmaking Support Systems we offer 3 levels of non-agitated washing service. We utilize a large tub for a soaking style wash as opposed to an agitated/machine style wash. The advantage to this is that we are able to treat the sails more gingerly and not cause as much breakdown as with an agitated wash. If you are going to take the trouble to flake and/or roll your sails, it doesn’t make much sense to then “stuff” them into a machine for the washing that is still necessary.

We offer three levels of sail washing: Standard Wash, Racing Rinse, and Vacu-Wash.

Our Sail Washes

Standard Wash Our Standard wash consists of soaking the sails overnight, in a diluted solution of water, soap, and bleach. The solutions are all in sufficient levels to clean and treat the sails, but not so much to harm any sail fabrics. After the overnight soak, the sails are "drip dried" for the day, and then hung for the night to dry.

Racing Rinse This is our wash level reserved primarily for racing laminates and nylon sails. We utilize a weaker solution and dip the sails in the wash bin for about an hour, after which they are dried in the normal way.

Vacu-Wash Modern laminated sail materials are a great innovation in terms of shape holding and weight savings, but they all have one inherent problem. MILDEW!

vacu wash removes mildew from sails
Remove even the toughest sail mildew with our Vacu-Wash™ process.

The lamination leaves voids between the mylar surfaces and water slowly penetrates these voids by traveling along the fibers between the mylars. This is called the wicking effect. Once the water is insided between the layers of fibers and film, it will remain there and gradually your sails will mildew.

Adding to the wicking problem, many parts of a sail, such as uv covers and reinforcement in the corners, are still being applied by sewing them onto the sail and therefore puncturing the films allowing even more water to enter between the glued surfaces.

We at Sailmaking Support Systems have developed a process that combats this problem.

Our Vacu-Wash™ process involves placing the sails in a vacuum chamber and removing the air and water from the voids and the slowly introducing a cleaning agent and subsequently a rinse.

Once the mildew has been removed and the sail has been dried, we highly recommend that the sail be treated with SailkotePlus to prevent a reoccurrence of this problem.

Our success rate has been very high. Talk to your sailmaker today about this new way to remove mildew on sails.