Cleaning dacron, cleaning dacron sail cloth, cleaning dacron sails used on ultralight aircraft.

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Dacron sail cloth, how to clean dacron sail cloth used on ultralights and ultralight aircraft.

If you have an ultralight aircraft there is a good chance that it is covered with dacron sail cloth. This is the same style of cloth used in the sailing industry. These boats are generally quite expensive, with the owners wanting bright colours and CLEAN sails!  So to find out how to clean dacron sail cloth I searched the "sail boat" web and came up with the following recommendations.

CLEANING - Use a soft scrub brush and a mild detergent or Ivory soap. Detergents with a neutral ph factor will not tend to set certain types of soil rather than remove them. Always scrub in line with seams. After scrubbing, rinse sail with plenty of warm water to remove all soap before laying flat to dry.

MILDEW - Mildew is caused by storing soiled sails wet. While it does not affect the strength of Dacron, it is unsightly and should be removed early to prevent spreading through the dirt and moisture left in the sail- a good reason for keeping the sail clean. 

To remove mildew, brush the area with a stiff brush to remove as much as possible. Place infected area in a solution of 1% bleach and cold water for about two hours. Wash thoroughly and rinse with fresh water. Repeat if necessary.

Dacron® Sailcloth - Mildew/Blood Removal: Remove both blood and mildew by brushing the stained area with a stiff dry brush. Soak the remaining stain (stained area only) in a mild fresh water and bleach solution for 1-2 hours, lightly scrubbing the spot occasionally. Rinse liberally with fresh cool water. Remember that mildew is a fungus growth and you should stop the growth and clean the affected area immediately upon noticing it. Since preventing mildew is much easier than removing it, please follow proper storage recommendations.

Another method is to wash the stain in hot, sudsy water (with some bleach added), then rinse and dry. Moisten the stain with lemon juice and salt and let it dry in the sun. Rinse in warm water.

MILDEW: Hot soapy water with a little bleach will generally prevail. After scrubbing, leave the solution on the fabric for a few minutes and rinse thoroughly. When using bleach a residual chlorine smell may be present after rinsing. A 1% solution of sodium thiosolphate (photographer’s hypo) should remove all chlorine traces. Here again rinse and dry well.

Note: For laminate, nylon, and Dacron® sailcloth, a disinfectant spray such as Lysol®, should stop and prevent mildew growth.  

To remove blood stains soak the stained portion of the sail in a solution of cold water with a cup of ammonia to one half gallon of water. If, after treating, the stains are still present, dampen the sail with a 1% solution of ammonia in water, allow to stand for about 20 minutes and then thoroughly rinse stained area. Another method is to scrub the stain with a concentrated mixture of dry detergent and warm water. Make the mixture as thick and pasty as possible and apply it to the stained area with a brush. Let the mixture stand on the stain for about 15-30 minutes to let the detergent work, and then rinse with warn water. If the stain is still there, treat the stained area with a mild bleach and warn water and then re-rinse.

Always finish any stain treatment by washing and rinsing the sail with fresh water.

BLOOD: Soak the stained portion for 10-20 minutes in a solution of bleach (Clorox) and warm water, generally 10 parts water to 1 part bleach. Scrub and repeat if necessary. Rinse thoroughly, particularly nylon and dry completely.

STAINS - Oil and grease stains may be removed with trichloroethylene or naphtha. Heavy staining might be removed by brushing on a detergent dissolved in two pints of benzene or white spirits. This should be brushed in the sail and left for 20 minutes and then washed out with warm water. Be sure when this job is done the area is well ventilated and precautions taken if the solvents are inflammable.

OIL, GREASE, TAR AND WAX: Warm water, soap and elbow grease seem to be effective. On hard stains propriety stain removal and dry cleaning fluids should do the trick. Be careful to remove all fluids, as they can soften the various resinated coatings on sailcloth.

Dacron® Sailcloth - Grease, Tar, Oil, etc.: Acetone rubbed on the spot with a clean cloth should remove these stains. After applying the acetone, clean area with a mild detergent and fresh water mixture. Be sure to properly rinse out all of the acetone from the sailcloth.

To remove rust stains, soak stained area in a solution of 2% hydrochloric acid and warm water. Or, soak the stain in oxalic acid for 15-30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. You can get oxalic acid powder at a drug store. Use manufacturers recommendations about the amount of water to cut it with.

PAINT AND VARNISH: Acetone and M.E.K. should remove most common paint stains; varnish can be easily removed by alcohol.

RUST AND METALLIC STAINS: These types of stains are very often the most frustrating and difficult to remove. First scrub with soap and water and apply acetone, M.E.K. or alcohol. As a last resort, you might try a diluted mixture (5%) of oxalic acid and soak 15-20 minutes. Hydrochloric acid 2 parts to 100 in warm water will also work.

Dacron® Sailcloth - Tree Sap: Gently wipe off with rubbing alcohol on a dry cloth.

Temperkote or Mylar sails are still new and experimental. At this point in time, avoid most solvents, as time can damage the fabric over a period of time. Soap and diluted bleaches should take care of most stains.

Use all solvents with care. Always rinse and dry thoroughly. It should be emphasized that nylon rip stop spinnaker fabrics are less durable and more sensitive than their polyester counterparts. Bleaches and solvents can ruin nylon if not used properly.


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