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How to Clean Sails on a Sailboat

Posted by Boat Lover's Towel on

how to clean your sail on your sail boat

Every sailboat owner knows that sails are susceptible to dirt, mildew, and other hard-to-remove stains. It’s the risk you run every time you take your boat out on the water for a day of fun. Thankfully, cleaning your boat’s sails is an easy, one-person job that’s relatively inexpensive. Once you know how to clean sailboat sails, you’ll be ready to take on your next weekend DIY project with confidence. 

If you want to know how to wash sailboat sails, here’s a step-by-step guide we made that will walk you through the process. 

Table of Contents

Boat Sail Cleaning 101

First things first: unlike cleaning the boat itself, you really only need to clean the sails when they start to look dirty. You can follow a set cleaning schedule if you want, but you don’t have to. Keep reading to learn about what to avoid, materials to use, and what steps to take when cleaning your sailboat’s sails. 

Things to Avoid

Harsh sail cleaners, such as bleach and chlorine, are the top products you should avoid when cleaning your boat’s sails. These types of cleaners contain chemicals that strip the sails of their protective resin coating. This stripping weakens the sails over time, meaning you’ll have to pay more money to either repair or replace them down the road. 

Additionally, you should never clean your sailboat’s sails in a washing machine. Doing so will also strip the protective resin coating and likely create tears in the fabric that can’t be fixed. 

Materials to Use

Cleaning boat sails is a relatively inexpensive process because it only requires a few key ingredients: 

  • Mild detergent 

  • Soft-thistle brush 

  • Warm, fresh water 

  • Plastic bucket

How to Clean the Sails on Your Sail Boat 

Check out our simple five-step process for how to clean sailboat sails like a pro. 

  1. Find a large, open space that has a clean, flat surface where you can stretch out the sails. 

  2. Apply mild detergent to the sails.

  3. Use a soft-thistle brush to rub in the detergent. 

  4. Rinse the sails thoroughly with warm, fresh water until no detergent remains. 

  5. To prevent mildew growth, let the sails dry completely before reattaching them to the sailboat. 

Sometimes you’ll need a second line of defense against dirt, mildew, and other stains. Vinegar is a powerful sail cleaning solution that removes pesky stains that get left behind after cleaning with detergent. Simply soak any stain spots in vinegar, then rinse off the vinegar with warm water. Some sailboat owners have found that a combination of detergent and vinegar is most effective for removing stains. 

Feel Confident With a Clean Sail on Your Sail Boat

Now that you know how to clean your boat’s sails, it’s time to invest in the best sail washing products. As the boat cleaning experts, CleanTools manufactures superior boat cleaning supplies—like our Round Boat Brush. This soft-thistle brush is safe for all sail finishes and removes set-in stains without damaging the sail’s material. When you shop this product, you’ll get to enjoy clean sailing from here on out.  Shop Our Round Boat Brush and make cleaning Sails on your sail boat easier than ever before.


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