Can You Wash Dacron Sails In A Washing Machine?



Can You Wash Dacron Sails In A Washing Machine

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No, you should not wash Dacron sails in a washing machine. Dacron sails, which are commonly used on boats and sailboats, require specialized care to maintain their integrity and longevity. Attempting to clean them in a washing machine can lead to damage and costly repairs. Instead, follow proper care guidelines and consider alternative cleaning methods.

Dacron sails play a crucial role in sailing, helping vessels harness the power of the wind and glide gracefully across the water. Over time, these sails can accumulate dirt, salt, and grime, affecting their performance and appearance. While it’s essential to keep your Dacron sails clean, it’s equally crucial to clean them correctly to avoid potential damage.

In this article, we’ll explore the dos and don’ts of cleaning Dacron sails, provide alternative cleaning methods, and address some common questions.

Dos and Don’ts of Wash Dacron Sails In A Washing Machine


  • Inspect Regularly: Regularly inspect your Dacron sails for signs of dirt, mold, mildew, or damage. Early detection can prevent the need for extensive cleaning.
  • Rinse with Freshwater: After each sail, rinse your Dacron sails thoroughly with freshwater to remove salt and debris. This helps prevent salt buildup, which can weaken the fabric over time.
  • Use a Soft Bristle Brush: When cleaning, use a soft bristle brush to gently scrub away dirt and grime. Avoid abrasive brushes that can damage the fabric.
  • Mild Detergent: If necessary, use a mild, biodegradable detergent specifically designed for sails or marine fabrics.
  • Dry Completely: After cleaning, ensure that the sails are completely dry before storing them. Proper drying prevents mold and mildew growth.


  • Avoid the Washing Machine: Never attempt to wash Dacron sails in a washing machine. The agitating motion, detergents, and water pressure can cause irreparable damage to the fabric, seams, and stitching.
  • Steer Clear of Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using harsh chemicals, bleach, or abrasive cleaners, as they can weaken the sail’s fabric and compromise its strength.
  • Don’t Use High-Pressure Cleaners: High-pressure cleaners can force water into the sail’s seams, potentially causing leaks and weakening the fabric.
  • Skip the Dryer: Do not use a tumble dryer or direct heat source to dry Dacron sails, as excessive heat can shrink and damage the fabric.

Steps To Wash Dacron Sails:

Cleaning Dacron sails should be done with great care, and it’s best to avoid using a washing machine altogether. Instead, follow these steps for safe and effective sail cleaning:

Step 1

Inspect the Sails: Before cleaning, carefully inspect the sails for any visible dirt, mildew, or stains. Take note of areas that require more attention.

Step 2

Prepare a Cleaning Solution: In a bucket, mix a mild detergent with lukewarm water. Use a detergent designed for sails or marine fabrics. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution ratios.

Step 3

Dampen the Sails: Wet the sails thoroughly with freshwater to remove surface salt and debris. This step helps prevent abrasion during cleaning.

Step 4

Use a Soft Bristle Brush: Dip a soft bristle brush into the soapy water solution. Gently scrub the sails in a circular motion, paying particular attention to stained or soiled areas. Avoid excessive pressure to prevent damage.

Step 5

Rinse Thoroughly: After scrubbing, rinse the sails with clean, freshwater. Make sure to remove all soap residue.

Step 6

Air Dry: Hang the sails in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Ensure they are completely dry before folding or storing them. Proper drying helps prevent mold and mildew growth.

Step 7

Inspect and Fold: After drying, inspect the sails again for any missed spots or stains. Fold them carefully, avoiding sharp creases or wrinkles that could weaken the fabric.

Alternative Washing Methods For Dacron Sails:

In addition to the hand-cleaning method mentioned above, you can also consider these alternative cleaning methods:

  • Sail Cleaner Products: There are specialized sail cleaner products available on the market. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when using these products.
  • Professional Sail Cleaning Services: For extensive cleaning or when in doubt, consider professional sail cleaning services. These professionals have the expertise and equipment to clean and maintain sails properly.
  • Sail Treatment: Some sailors use sail treatment products that not only clean but also provide protection against future dirt and stains. These treatments often include UV inhibitors to safeguard the sail from sun damage.
  • Regular Maintenance: Preventative maintenance, such as rinsing the sails after each use and inspecting them regularly, can minimize the need for deep cleaning.


Can I use a pressure washer to clean Dacron sails?

Answer: No, it’s not advisable to use a pressure washer, as it can force water into seams and potentially damage the sail’s integrity.

Can I use bleach to remove stains on Dacron sails?

Answer: Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals on Dacron sails, as they can weaken the fabric. Opt for a mild detergent designed for marine fabrics.

How often should I clean my Dacron sails?

Answer: The frequency of cleaning depends on usage and sailing conditions. Regular rinsing after each sail and inspection will help determine when a deeper cleaning is needed.

Can I store Dacron sails when they are slightly damp?

Answer: It’s best to store Dacron sails completely dry to prevent mold and mildew growth. Ensure they are thoroughly dry before folding and storing.

Are there any products that can protect Dacron sails from dirt and stains?

Answer: Yes, some sail treatments are designed to protect against future dirt and stains while providing UV protection. These products can be applied after cleaning.

Final Words:

Maintaining your Dacron sails is essential to ensure their longevity and performance on the water. While cleaning is a necessary part of sail care, it’s crucial to avoid using a washing machine, as it can cause significant damage. Instead, follow the dos and don’ts outlined in this article for safe and effective sail cleaning. Regular rinsing, inspection, and gentle cleaning will help keep your Dacron sails in top condition, allowing you to enjoy many more smooth and enjoyable sailing adventures.

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