Sailcovers, dodgers, and most other exterior covers for boats are manufactured using the most UV resistant fabrics available here in NZ, with the four most well-known brands of acrylic canvas being Sunbrella (USA), Planasol (Austria), Docril (Spain) and Styleshade (Australia).These fabrics are made from 100% solution dyed acrylic fibre and are resistant to adverse environmental conditions, fading, breathe well, and come in a great colour range. Good quality PVC, Stamoid, or other similar products may also be used. Your covers will last for many years, depending on wear and tear and maintenance. We use the best polyester thread available which is more than adequate for most boat covers. However in some instances we can recommend/offer PTFE long-life thread for an extra initial cost, which will last for a minimum of 8 years or the life of your cover. Unlike other thread it will not break down due to exposure to sunlight, weather, or water.
Cleaning your covers is quick and easy. All brands of new acrylic canvas come with a water-repellent finish (and regular cleaning will remove it) so delay the need for deep cleaning. Simply brush off any loose dirt using a soft brush or hose your covers occasionally and allow to air dry. This will prevent the build-up of contaminant agents, like those present in the air, from sticking to the fabric.
If your covers are showing signs of mildew/contaminant build-up the manufacturers recommend a thorough cleaning. Most covers can be cleaned while still on the frame or boat. Wash using a mild lukewarm natural soapy solution. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry. For mould and mildew soak for 20 minutes, lightly scrub, and then rinse. Do not use a high pressure hose, hot water, chlorine bleach, solvents, or put in a dryer. When clean and dry reapply waterproofing to acrylic canvas. We have purpose-made product ranges available which are recommended for covers under warranty (less than 5 years old). I have had good success with 303 Cleaner Concentrate (for removing mould) and 303 Fabric Guard. After the warranty period there are several other products available on the market which would be effective (but read the labels carefully).
Clear windows that are still intact in dodgers and canopies can be replaced to enhance visibility and add a new lease of life. To maintain existing windows try using purpose made cleaners. They help visibility and repel dust and other contaminants. I recommend/stock a product called Novus for small/medium sized clears and have had great results. Plexus or Imar Strataglass cleaners are recommended for larger flybridge canopies depending on the type of clear used.