Can I clean my sails myself? † tips & manual

4 minute reading time
Kan ik zelf mijn zeilen reinigen? – tips & gebruiksaanwijzing
With the right method, it is not difficult to clean your sails yourself and to get them radiantly clean.

It may seem impossible to clean your sails yourself. But it doesn't have to be! With the right method it is not difficult to get your sails sparkling clean again. As the owner of Ultramar, I know exactly how to do that. Since 1998, Ultramar has specialized in cleaning sails for sailmakers, yards and water sports enthusiasts like you! That is why I am happy to explain to you which steps you can take to achieve a professional result.

Cleaning sails is not an unnecessary luxury!

Cleaning sails should be done every now and then. Salt, sand and pollution are a major drain on sails. A clean sail is a much nicer sight than a dirty sail.

But that's not the only reason for cleaning your sails. Over time, contamination can damage the coating or stitching. Mold between the laminate can cause damage, especially with laminate sails. Mold enters the laminate through the stitching holes and damage in the cloth. Mold between the laminate layers attracts moisture. When this happens the edge of delamination is large. Delamination means that the different layers of the cloth come off.

Mold laminate lineSchimmel laminaatzeil

So be there on time. Clean your sails with water and provide good protection for a longer lifespan of your sails!

Sailing cleaning do's and don'ts

Before you get started with cleaning sails, it is wise to familiarize yourself with the best methods.

Don'ts: how not to?

We often hear tips for cleaning sails, which in practice do not work very well or can even damage the sail. Here are some examples:

  • To wait long
    As described above, there is a good chance that your cloth will be affected if you wait too long to clean. Mold can damage the coating and cause delamination.

  • Using a pressure washer
    Cleaning sails with a pressure washer is a quick and effective method. I wouldn't do that though. It is also very likely that you will damage your canvas in this way. Would you still like to use a high-pressure cleaner for cleaning? Then read this article about cleaning with a high-pressure cleaner.

  • Using green soap
    Every sink cabinet should have green soap. It is a safe and environmentally friendly cleaning agent. If you are going to clean sails, green soap is unfortunately not very suitable. The vegetable oils in green soap leave a greasy layer on the cloth. This layer is a perfect breeding ground for algae and mosses. So deposits will form on your canvas again sooner. Want to know more about the use of green soap? Read this article about green soap.

  • Wash in the washing machine
    I sometimes hear the tip "just wash sails in the washing machine". This is not such a good idea for several reasons. When washing in a washing machine, the stitching often comes loose, the sail can shrink and because the washing machine is usually just not big enough, the sail doesn't even get cleaned properly.

Sail with poor protectionZeil met slechte bescherming

Do's: how should it be done?

Now you know what not to do, but how to do it?

Before I tell you this, I have an important tip if your sails are not dirty yet: MAKE SURE THEY STAY CLEAN! :-)

By regularly washing your sails with lukewarm water and a brush, you prevent deposits from forming on your sail. A small wash with water is done in no time and you can postpone more extensive cleaning for a while. Even better....protect the fabric with a good coating. The Ultramar Sail & Spinnaker Coating often offers much better protection than the new original coating.

Coating sailZeil coaten

Is your sail already dirty? Then use Ultramar Sail Cleaner to get your sails sparkling clean again:

  • Fill a container, wheelie bin, bath or rain barrel with lukewarm water (30℃).
  • Add 20 grams (1 scoop) per 1 liter of lukewarm water and mix.
  • Fold/roll the sail and place it in the water.
  • Soak the tarp submerged for at least 24 hours.
  • Remove soaked dirt and the cleaner with a soft brush and plenty of water.
  • Then protect the sail with Ultramar Sail & Spinnaker Coating.

Tips for heavily soiled cloths:

  • You can soak the tarp again by adding extra warm water after 24 hours.
  • In case of severe pollution, you can let the tarpaulin soak for several days and repeat the treatment.
  • Sometimes sails are so dirty that they can no longer be cleaned exclusively with Ultramar Sail Cleaner. In case of serious pollution and deeply penetrated stains, you can use Ultramar Power Cleaner.