Although mostly cosmetic, atmospheric pollutants such as soot, bird droppings, and especially salt and sand can be very detrimental so sails. All of the above can trap or attract moisture to the surface of the fabric be-it a woven or film laminate. This will in turn increase the likelihood of mildew spores and ultimately algae growing to the sail. In woven fabrics this is mainly a cosmetic irritant but for laminates this may well speed or promote the onset of delamination.

Salt and sand crystals can be particularly damaging to any sailcloth. The crystals can and will abrade the surface of the fabric, on a woven fabric they will then nestle in between each yarn and abrade these yarns. This will reduce the strength and stretch properties of the sail and in extreme cases could result in fabric failure. In racing laminates the crystals will abrade the ‘Mylar’ film and result in chafe and ultimately break down the film as well as causing the sail to shrink slightly and reduce performance.

We offer a professional laundry service for sails and covers and sub contract to a specialist marine valeting specialist. Hancock Marine Services are one of the best.http://www.sailcanvascleaning.co.uk/sail-cleaning/

They will inspect each sail and determine the most suitable technique. Laminated or composite sails will be laid out flat on a plastic protective sheet and cleaned using state of the art power washers. Most woven sails are washed the same way but some older and softer sails as well as spinnakers are washed in a large drum single pocket slow revolving washing machine. A variety of soap powders are used to take care of differing fabrics. Bleach is never used. All sails are then inspected and spot cleaned by hand if any significant stains remain. All items are then hung overnight in purpose built drying rooms with large fans to circulate warm air to guarantee sails are clean and dry ready for storage.

Hancock Marine also offer a ‘Mould and Mildew’ washing premium service for both sails and covers. The sail is soaked in a bath of water mixed with a special agent that removes the vast majority of mould and mildew stains. The black stains are actually the dead mildew spores and they are almost impossible to remove – even bleach does not remove effectively but the ‘Mould and Mildew’ treatment although not a guaranteed full stain removal does remove the vast majority of stains.


We also offer a solution called ‘Seal n Glide’ http://www.sailcanvascleaning.co.uk/holmenkol-products/ or ‘Mclube’ http://www.mclubemarine.com/sailkoteplus/ that can re-vitalise sails which provides a number of benefits.

This solution applied to mainsails, headsails or spinnakers creates a slippery surface that repels water, dirt, salt and offers a slight UV resistant glaze. The advantages are faster sail setting and gybing, reducing the risk of snagging and chafe, increases the sail stability, repels water so reduces mildew and algae growth as well as reduces weight aloft in damp conditions and prevents the tell tales from sticking in damp conditions.

For Blue-Water offshore cruising boats where chafe on seams and stitching is a serious concern we can coat the stitching in a water bourne urethane coating called “Seam Kote 4” which is impact and abrasion (salt) resistant and helps ensure that the sails stitching will make it across the ocean or passage you are planning.


We also offer a solution called ‘Fabsil’ or ‘303 Fabric Guard’ that can re-vitalise covers which provides a number of benefits.

The ‘Fabsil’ solution applied to any cover and silicones and re-water proofs old canvas. ‘Fabsil Gold’ also has a UV inhibitor to help prolong the longevity of the material.

‘303 Fabric Guard’ offers a similar product and protects against pollutants like acid rain and protects against oil and water based stains but is non silicon and offers slightly better resistance to mildew spores and it does not affect breathability of the material.