Know How: Mildew Removal

If your sails are made from laminated materials there’s a good chance that you’ve struggled with ways to keep mildew from getting a toehold in the fabric.

“Many of the sails made today are constructed with laminated materials,” says Jeff Andersen, President of the New Hampshire-based Sailmaking Support Systems. “Although a laminated sail will be lighter and potentially faster than a woven polyester sail, almost all these sails have multiple layers that are glued together. If water gets in between the layers it can create terrible mildew problems because mildew loves glue.”

Andersen, a former sailmaker who already oversees a large conventional sail–cleaning operation, spent more than four years researching ways to remove mildew from laminated sails. He calls his new proprietary process Vacu–Wash and the process involves inserting a sail into a special container, putting the sail under a vacuum and then introducing a specially formulated cleaning liquid into the container that will penetrate the sail’s multiple layers—as opposed to just the surface. The liquid removes mildew that may have formed below the surface laminate and that produces a cleaner and longer–lived sail. The process, says Andersen, removes mildew without damaging either the sail’s laminates or the adhesive glues used to hold them together.

Sailmaking Support Systems works with Doyle Sailmakers, North Sales Group LLC, Quantum Sailmakers, UK-Halsey Sailmakers as well as many independent sailmakers and individuals. To learn more about this innovative new idea go to:

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