Caring for Marine Fabrics


Caring for Marine Fabrics

To keep your Biminis, dodgers, and sail covers clean and in service for the long haul, regular maintenance is a must. Here are some best practices and care tips weve picked up over the years:
Use a soft cloth or brush to knock off loose dirt and then, hose down and clean with a mild solution of natural soap in lukewarm water. Rinse with fresh, cold water.
These faux-canvas fabrics should never be dry cleaned or put in a washing machine.
Never roll up wet enclosures or sail covers for storage; this will lead to mold and mildew stains. Store them in an area thats dry and well-ventilated to prevent mold growth.
If you plan to trailer your boat for a long trip, remove dodgers and Biminis to prevent damage and chafe.

Fabric-specific cleaning

Wash with lukewarm water using a mild detergent
Thoroughly rinse to remove all soap residue
Air dry
To remove mildew stains: Mix 1 cup bleach with a half-cup detergent per gallon of water
Apply, soak, and flush clean with fresh water
Do not use heat in the drying process
Dry dusting and brush off
Pre-soak in lukewarm fresh water (less than 100 degrees)
Wash with mild soap or Woolite, allowing cleaning solution to soak into fabric.
Rinse thoroughly and air dry; never apply heat.
May use 1 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water to clean stains, mold, and mildew
After major washing or several years use, treat with 303 High Tech Fabric Guard (after complete cleaning and drying)

Darrell Nicholson
Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 50 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him at