Vinyl tonneau covers are a popular truck bed cover option. They provide protection from the elements and add security. Keeping vinyl tonneau covers clean helps maintain their appearance and extend their lifespan. But is it okay to use household cleaners on vinyl tonneau covers? Let’s find out!
What Are The Concerns With Using Household Cleaners?
Some household cleaners contain ingredients that could potentially damage vinyl tonneau covers. Here are some things to watch out for:
Cleaners with abrasive scrubbing pads or gritty textures can scratch the surface of vinyl tonneau covers. Scratches make the vinyl look dull and worn.
Dish soaps, especially those with degreasing abilities, can strip protective coatings off vinyl tonneau covers. This leaves them prone to fading and cracking over time. The soaps can also leave behind a hazy film.
Products like armor all contain silicone oil. Silicone can leave behind a slippery residue on vinyl tonneau covers. This residue attracts more dirt and debris. Silicone oil also causes vinyl to become brittle and crack.
Some all-purpose cleaners and degreasers contain petroleum distillates. These chemicals can break down vinyl and cause it to dry out and become less flexible.
Citrus or Butyl
Citrus-based degreasers contain d-limonene. This chemical can react with vinyl tonneau cover surfaces. Over time, it can make the vinyl brittle and prone to cracking.
Bleach and cleaners containing bleach or chlorine should never be used on vinyl tonneau covers. The chemicals degrade and discolor vinyl.
Are Any Household Cleaners Safe For Vinyl Tonneau Covers?
While harsh household cleaners should be avoided, some gentle cleaners can safely be used on vinyl tonneau covers:
Mild Dish Soap
Regular dish soap contains surfactants that help lift dirt from vinyl tonneau covers without damaging the material. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.
The gentle formula of baby shampoo makes it ideal for cleaning vinyl tonneau covers. It won’t scratch or strip away protective coatings.
Like dish soap and baby shampoo, laundry detergents for hand washing delicates can safely clean vinyl tonneau cover surfaces. Make sure to dilute it first.
Distilled White Vinegar
Mixing a solution of one part distilled white vinegar to ten parts water can lift dirt and debris without harming vinyl tonneau covers. Rinse well after cleaning.
Rubbing alcohol can disinfect vinyl tonneau cover surfaces. Spot test first, as high concentrations or prolonged contact can dry out vinyl.
For light cleaning, use a soft sponge or microfiber cloth with warm water to lift dirt. Avoid scrubbing aggressively.
Are There Specialty Cleaners For Vinyl Tonneau Covers?
In addition to gentle household cleaners, there are also specialty vinyl tonneau cover cleaners:
Protectants contain chemicals that condition vinyl and leave an invisible UV-resistant coating. Use protectants to restore faded, dried out vinyl tonneau covers.
Specialty vinyl cleaners safely lift dirt while also conditioning and protecting the vinyl surface. They keep vinyl tonneau covers looking new.
Tonneau Cover Cleaner
Some manufacturers like Extang and Truxedo make their own specialty tonneau cover cleaners. They are formulated specifically for that company’s vinyl.
How Should You Clean Vinyl Tonneau Covers?
Here are some tips for safely cleaning vinyl tonneau covers:
Work in Small Sections
Clean vinyl tonneau covers in approximately 2 by 2 foot sections for the best results. This keeps the surface wet long enough to dissolve grime before drying.
Let Cleaners Soak In
After spraying on a cleaning solution, give it 2-3 minutes to penetrate the vinyl surface and lift contaminants before wiping away.
Use Soft Tools
Clean vinyl tonneau covers using microfiber cloths, soft sponges, or soft-bristle brushes. Avoid abrasive pads or scrub brushes.
When using any type of soap or cleaner on vinyl tonneau covers, thoroughly rinse with clean water. This prevents residue buildup.
Dry and Restore
After rinsing, allow vinyl tonneau covers to air dry completely. Then use a protectant or conditioner to restore shine and protection.
Check Manufacturer Guidelines
Read the tonneau cover owner’s manual for any specific cleaning recommendations from the manufacturer. Follow their guidelines for best results.
When Should Vinyl Tonneau Covers Be Cleaned?
It’s a good idea to clean vinyl tonneau covers regularly to prevent buildup of stubborn stains or debris:
- Clean every 2-3 months as part of regular vehicle maintenance.
- Clean after trips through mud or dusty conditions.
- Clean after hauling dirty cargo or tools in the truck bed.
- Clean after exposure to tree sap, bird droppings, or insect splatter.
- Clean before and after winter storage.
More frequent cleaning may be needed depending on usage and exposure to the elements. Keep an eye out for dirt buildup.
What About Using Protectants on Vinyl Tonneau Covers?
Using vinyl protectants is highly recommended for tonneau covers. The protectants:
- Restore faded, chalky vinyl
- Condition to prevent drying and cracking
- Protect against UV rays
- Help repel dust and dirt
- Leave a glossy, like-new finish
Apply protectant after cleaning vinyl tonneau covers and allowing them to fully dry. Reapply every 1-2 months.
- Avoid household cleaners like bleach, dish soap, armor all, or degreasers on vinyl tonneau covers as they can damage the material.
- Mild, gentle cleaners like dish soap, baby shampoo, rubbing alcohol, or vinegar are safe for use.
- Specialty vinyl cleaners and protectants are best for thorough cleaning and conditioning.
- Always rinse well after cleaning and allow vinyl to completely dry.
- Clean vinyl tonneau covers regularly to prevent buildup of dirt and stains.
Being cautious about which cleaners are used will help vinyl tonneau covers stay looking new for years to come! Proper cleaning and conditioning is key to maximizing their lifespan.