Do you have a tonneau cover on your truck that is starting to look old and worn? Tonneau covers protect the truck bed and cargo, but over time they can get dirty, faded, and scratched. Luckily, there are some easy ways to clean, condition, and restore your tonneau cover to make it look like new again!
Why is it Important to Keep Your Tonneau Cover Clean?
Keeping your tonneau cover clean is important for a few reasons:
- It keeps your truck bed protected. Dirt and grime can degrade and damage the vinyl or fabric of the cover over time.
- It makes your truck look nicer. A clean, shiny tonneau cover makes your whole truck look newer and well cared for.
- It’s easier to spot damage. You’ll notice scratches, cracking, or tearing sooner if you keep your cover clean.
- It improves visibility. Dirt on your back window tonneau cover can make it harder to see out of your rearview mirror.
What Products Should You Use to Clean Your Tonneau Cover?
It’s important to use the right cleaners and conditioners to clean your specific type of tonneau cover. Here are some good options:
For Vinyl Covers:
- Car wash soap and water. Use a soft brush and mild car wash soap and water to lightly scrub the vinyl. Avoid dish soaps.
- Vinyl protectants or conditioners. These will restore the vinyl’s color and leave a protective coating. Try products from 303, TriNova, or Chemical Guys.
- Avoid harsh chemicals that could dry out or damage the vinyl over time.
For Fabric Covers:
- Fabric cleaners. Look for tonneau cover fabric cleaners from Covercraft or RaggTopp.
- Mild soap and water. Use a soft brush and mild detergent. Rinse thoroughly.
- Fabric guard sprays. These protect the fabric from UV rays, stains, and water damage.
How Should You Clean Your Tonneau Cover?
Here are some step-by-step instructions for cleaning your tonneau cover:
1. Rinse with Water
Use a regular garden hose to give the tonneau cover a light rinse, removing any loose dirt or dust.
2. Make a Cleaning Solution
For vinyl, mix together water and a small amount of car wash soap or vinyl cleaner. For fabric, use water and mild detergent, or a tonneau cover fabric cleaner.
3. Scrub the Surface
Use a soft brush to gently scrub the top and underside of the cover. Scrub vinyl covers lightly and avoid scrubbing fabric too roughly.
4. Rinse Again
Rinse away all soap residue thoroughly with clean water. Make sure no suds are left behind.
5. Dry the Cover
Allow the cover to air dry completely before applying any protectants or conditioners. Move your truck out of direct sunlight first.
6. Apply Protectants
Once fully dry, use vinyl or fabric protectants to condition the surface and help restore color. Wipe or buff off any excess.
How Often Should You Clean Your Cover?
- Fabric covers: Clean every 2-3 months.
- Vinyl covers: Clean every 1-2 months.
- Clean anytime the cover gets very dirty or dusty.
- It’s best to clean in spring and fall when it’s not too hot or cold.
- Avoid cleaning in direct sunlight when cleaners could dry too fast.
How Can You Make an Old Tonneau Cover Black Again?
Over time, vinyl tonneau covers can start to fade from black to gray. Here are some DIY ways to restore that deep black color:
- Use vinyl conditioner or dye. Wipe on vinyl renewing conditioners that deposit black dye into the vinyl’s pores and restore color.
- Try a tire shine product. Wipe on a tire shine gel to temporarily darken and add shine.
- Use an alcohol-based dressing. Wipe on a product like 303 Aerospace Protectant for an instant darkened, matte finish.
- Try Lemon Pledge. Wipe it on and buff it off for a quick restoration. The lemon oils help moisturize and protect the vinyl.
- Consider a vinyl paint or coating. More intensive options like SEM Vinyl Coat or Durabak-18 can coat the vinyl with a fresh, jet black finish.
How Can You Repair Small Damage or Imperfections?
Minor damage like small cuts, tears, or scuffs can occur over years of use. Here are some ways to fix them:
- Use vinyl patches for vinyl covers. Clean the area thoroughly and apply peel-and-stick patches to cover holes or tears from the inside.
- Use truck bed liner to patch holes. For small holes in either vinyl or fabric, spray a little truck bed liner to seal them up.
- Use glue for fabric repairs. For fabric cover tears, apply fabric glue or an adhesive patch on the inside of the cover.
- Use touch up paint for scuffs. Lightly sand scuffs to roughen the surface. Apply thin coats of tonneau cover touch up paint.
- Take it to a pro for big repairs. For large rips, tears, or extensive damage, it’s best to take your cover to an auto upholstery shop for professional repairs.
How Can You Prevent Your New Tonneau Cover From Getting Damaged
To help keep a new tonneau cover in great shape for as long as possible:
- Park in the shade whenever possible to limit sun damage.
- Regularly clean and condition the vinyl or fabric.
- Avoid loading heavy or rough cargo that could scuff or tear the cover. Use corner protectors.
- Roll up vinyl covers to prevent pooling water and debris when not in use.
- Keep fabric covers tight and well-secured when driving.
- Consider getting a tonneau cover liner or mat for an extra protective barrier.
Keep your tonneau cover looking new for longer by properly caring for it! Regular cleaning, conditioning, and taking steps to prevent damage will keep it in top shape. With a little elbow grease, you can restore an old, faded cover back to its original glory. Give your truck bed the protection and style it deserves with a like-new tonneau cover.