In this article, you will learn:
Convertible top care may seem like a bit of a mystery. If you shop for products specifically for convertible tops, you won’t find much. Maybe some kind of water repellant treatment, but that’s about it. It seems like there should be plenty of choices for cleaning, protecting and restoring your soft top. With as many as 13 million convertible cars on the road in the United States, what gives?
The short answer is, for the most part, convertible tops don’t require a lot of special treatment. Car makers design and build today’s soft tops to be easy to live with, so you only need to know a few basic tips to clean and care for yours.
Before we dive into the processes of getting your convertible top clean, let’s cover some important points that every convertible owner should know.
If you think about all the great things wax does for the painted surfaces of your car, just imagine the opposite happening to your convertible top. On painted surfaces with clear coat, wax repels liquids and soils, protects the finish and keeps the paint looking fresh and clean. On a fabric or vinyl top, wax acts as a magnet, attracting soils and contaminants, potentially shortening the life of the convertible material.
So, this one’s a no-brainer. Never wax your soft convertible top and never use a car wash product with integrated wax. Just don’t.
Using a brush on fabric convertible tops can cause the material to pill and look worn prematurely. Meanwhile, cotton towels can leave lint tangled in the fibers of convertible fabrics. Once this lint is intertwined, it can be nearly impossible to remove. Steer clear of brushes and cotton towels.
Never saturate the fabric of your convertible top with aggressive cleaning products. The exterior material of your soft top is adhered to a rubber layer beneath. This rubber layer is the waterproof, windproof barrier that keeps your car interior comfortable and dry. Harsh cleaning products may break down the adhesives between these layers, which would create irreparable damage to your top.
Try to avoid parking your convertible car under trees. Tree sap is very difficult to remove once it’s stuck in the fibers of your fabric top. Never use a bug, tar or tree sap remover on your top. These products are too aggressive for convertible tops. Instead, use a good car upholstery cleaner. Products like our Power Out! Upholstery Cleaner are designed to get sticky soils and tough stains out of fabric, so they work great as a convertible top cleaner.
Use caution if you’re accustomed to using a pressure washer at home or a wand at a self-service car wash. Today’s convertible tops are great at repelling water from driving rainstorms, but, at 1,500 psi, water can penetrate the seams of your top and soak your interior. Worse, you could end up with moisture trapped between the layers of your convertible top, which could lead to mold and mildew. To be safe, save the high-pressure water for your tires, wheels and painted surfaces and use only a garden hose on or near your convertible top.
Try not to leave your top down for extended periods of time. During warm seasons, you may be tempted to go top-down for days or weeks on end, especially if you park in a garage, but try to resist the urge. Leaving your top down for too long can create permanent fold lines and wrinkles that don’t come out easily. To keep your top looking crisp and neat, we recommend putting the top up every time you park. Likewise, if your car isn’t a daily driver, store it with the top up to protect your convertible.
For regular cleaning, feel free to clean your top just like you do the rest of your car. With the top up, rinse the car with water, breaking up any loose soils with a strong stream of water. Using a car wash mitt, a product like M.A.X. Power Car Wash and water, start at the top and scrub the entire car, working down to the lower rocker panels last. Rinse from the top down, making sure you get all the suds out of the fabric, seams and seals of the top, before rinsing the rest of your car. Dry the entire car with a microfiber towel. Start at the top, gently blotting the fabric to wick moisture into your towel, before moving onto the glass and painted surfaces.
Use a hose to wet the top. Then, apply upholstery cleaner to a 2’ x 2’ area. Using a circular motion, scrub the cleaner into the fabric gently with a microfiber towel, sponge or foam applicator. Use a consistent amount of cleaner and attention across the top for even results. Keep the fabric damp as you clean the entire top. Rinse with a flooding pattern first then a spray to get all suds out of the fabric. Dry gently, blotting with microfiber towels.
Once the top is clean, apply a very light coating of vinyl protectant. This simple treatment will bring back the deep color of your fabric or vinyl convertible top. For this job, we recommend Inside & Out Protectant. Mist a foam applicator or clean microfiber cloth with a spritz of this protectant and massage evenly over the top.
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