Power washing a tonneau cover can seem like a quick and easy way to get it clean. But is it actually safe for the cover? Let’s dive into the details.
What risks are involved with power washing a tonneau cover?
Power washers can output high-pressure water and soap to blast away dirt and grime. This makes them super effective cleaners. However, there are some potential risks to be aware of when using them on tonneau covers:
- Damage from high pressure – The intense pressure from a power washer could damage the material or seals on some types of soft covers. Vinyl and other fabrics may be prone to tearing.
- Scratching – If the power washer nozzle comes into direct contact with the cover, it could potentially scratch the surface, especially on hard covers.
- Water ingress – High pressure spray could force water into seams and points of attachment, compromising the cover’s weather protection.
- Debris blast – Any gravel or grit on the cover might turn into tiny projectiles when hit with high pressure water. This could lead to dents and paint damage.
What do tonneau cover manufacturers recommend for cleaning?
Most tonneau cover manufacturers provide directions on proper cleaning methods for their products. Here’s what many of them suggest:
- For soft covers, use a mild soap and water solution and a soft rag or sponge. Rinse well. Avoid harsh cleaners or chemicals.
- For hard covers, rinse with water first to remove loose debris. Then use a mild soap and water solution, rinse, and let dry. Some also approve alcohol or ammonia-based cleaners.
- Do not take soft covers through car washes. Hard covers may be able to withstand certain touchless car washes.
- Hand washing is widely recommended as the best cleaning method to safely care for tonneau covers.
Are automatic car washes bad for tonneau covers?
Most manufacturers warn against taking soft tonneau covers through automatic car washes. The spinning brushes, high pressure water jets, and powerful dryers can damage fabrics and seals.
However, some touchless automatic washes may be safe for hard covers if used with caution. Make sure to thoroughly rinse the cover first and avoid systems with wax or conditioner chemicals. Still, debris blast and high pressure remain risks.
What’s the verdict on power washing tonneau covers?
Based on manufacturer guidance, power washing is generally not recommended for tonneau covers. The intense water pressure and potential for damage outweighs any benefits. Exceptions may be made for some hard covers if care is taken to use lower pressures from further distances.
For routine cleaning, your best bet is good old-fashioned hand washing. Be sure to use automotive soaps or cleaners designed specifically for tonneau covers. This will get your cover looking like new without putting it at risk of damage.
So consider putting down the power washer and grabbing a soft sponge instead. A little extra elbow grease will go a long way towards safely caring for your tonneau cover. Your cover will thank you!