Petroleum jelly, also known as Vaseline, is a staple in many households. Its uses range from smoothing dry skin to lubricating sticky drawers. But is it safe to use on automotive surfaces like vinyl tonneau covers? Let’s find out.
What is a Tonneau Cover and What Material is it Typically Made From?
A tonneau cover is an optional pickup truck accessory that covers the truck bed, providing protection from weather and prying eyes. Tonneau covers come in soft versions made of vinyl or canvas, as well as hard versions made from aluminum, fiberglass, or plastic.
Vinyl is a popular tonneau cover material thanks to its durability and low cost. But like any material, proper care is required to keep vinyl tonneau covers looking their best.
Does Petroleum Jelly Damage Other Vinyl Surfaces?
Petroleum jelly is generally considered safe for use on vinyl materials like furniture and car seat upholstery. In fact, it can help condition and soften vinyl to prevent cracks.
However, some vinyl manufacturers caution against using petroleum-based products. The plasticizers in vinyl can react with ingredients in petroleum jelly over time, potentially causing the vinyl to become gummy or discolored.
So while occasional use may not harm vinyl, extended exposure to petroleum jelly could degrade the material. It’s best to stick to cleaners specifically designed for vinyl.
Why Should Petroleum Jelly Be Avoided on Tonneau Covers?
According to TruXedo, a tonneau cover manufacturer, drivers should never use vinyl conditioners with silicone, petroleum, or citrus additives on their vinyl tonneau covers because they can crack and shrink the material.
Petroleum jelly is a petroleum-based product, and as such, it is not recommended for use on vinyl tonneau covers. While there are many household uses for petroleum jelly, including as a leather moisturizer and to prevent glue from drying out, it is not suitable for use on vinyl tonneau covers.
In fact, using the wrong products on a tonneau cover can void the warranty, as in the case of Extang.
What is the Best Way to Clean and Condition a Vinyl Tonneau Cover?
To clean and condition a vinyl tonneau cover, TruXedo recommends using a non-toxic, water-based formula like their Pro-Tex Cleaner, which contains no harmful silicones.
Other tonneau cover manufacturers suggest using a mild soap and water solution. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning to remove any soap residue.
For conditioning, look for vinyl protectants specifically made for tonneau covers and automotive surfaces. Avoid household products like Armor All and Pledge which can damage vinyl over time.
The Bottom Line: Petroleum Jelly and Vinyl Tonneau Covers Don’t Mix
While petroleum jelly is perfectly safe for use around the house, it’s best to keep it away from your vinyl tonneau cover. The petroleum compounds can degrade vinyl and shorten the life of your cover.
Stick to mild cleaners and conditioners made specifically for tonneau covers. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to keep your cover looking its best for years to come. With the proper maintenance, a quality vinyl cover will protect your truck bed in all weather conditions.