The vinyl car wrap experts recommend that you clean your car wrap about once a week, especially if your wrap is getting exposed to a lot of grime and pollution.
Hand Washing is Best
When it comes to actually washing down your car, you should probably steer clear of an automated wash that uses a lot of high pressure. Although you can still go to an automated car wash, a hand wash is a lot gentler to vinyl car wraps.
The problem with automated car washes is that they have brushes that move at very high speeds and apply too much pressure to your vinyl car wrap. Water jets at automated car washes can, and occasionally do, lift seams and tear vinyl car wraps. Be careful.
Wipe Off Stains Immediately
Vinyl car wraps can last five years or more when treated gently and hand washed regularly. The thing to remember is that with a vinyl car wrap an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Letting difficult stains like tree sap, tar, bird droppings, or fuel spills stay on your vinyl wrap can degrade the quality of your wrap in the short term and harden into a real pain in the neck long term.
The thing to do is simply check your vinyl wrap every few days for stains or a lot of dirt buildup from grime and pollution. If you see gray or black spots from a pollution buildup, then simply use soapy, lukewarm water at first to try to loosen the stained area.
Wet and non-abrasive detergents made by 3M and other vinyl car wrap manufacturers can also be applied with a sponge or microfiber cloth to take care of dirt buildup or light stains. But what if you’re dealing with the mother of all stains? What do you do then?
Are Pressure Washers Safe? Kinda…
Well, vinyl car wrap manufacturers say that you should be pretty careful using a pressure washer. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and you need to be way below that to wash your vinyl car wrap safely with a pressure washer.
You want to aim for no more than 180 degrees Fahrenheit if you use a pressure washer, which is still pretty hot. A cup of coffee from the golden arches is about that hot, so you definitely don’t want to chance it by going near that with a pressure washer.
If there’s a stain that just wont come out with a microfiber towel and warm, soapy water then you could try water that’s slightly warmer with a power washer. Only spray stained areas and make sure your power washer doesn’t ever get above 2,000 PSI (pounds per square inch) when you clean your vinyl car wrap.
Aside from temperature (rule: keep it well below 180 degrees Fahrenheit) and pressure (another rule: keep it below 2,000 PSI on your pressure washer), you’re going to want to use a spray nozzle that’s at least one foot away from your wrap. A nozzle with a 40 degree (really wide) spray pattern is also best.
Sidestep Oil-based Cleaners
Whether you hand wash (the best way to go) or use a pressure washer to get out difficult stains (sometimes necessary but be extremely careful) you want to wipe away little problems before they develop into bigger problems and you don’t want to use water that’s too hot.
Warm, soapy water is ideal, but you can use rubbing alcohol or an environmentally friendly all-purpose cleaner like Simple Green for really small, isolated vinyl car wrap spot stains. Avoid oil-based cleaners, tough kitchen cleaners, and solvents. Contact us for more information.