Tonneau covers are a great way to protect the contents of your truck bed. But like any accessory, they require proper care and maintenance to keep them looking and functioning their best. When it comes to tonneau covers made from vinyl, a common question is whether you can safely use vinyl protectant spray on them. Let’s explore this topic in more detail.
What Is A Tonneau Cover Made Of?
Tonneau covers come in two main material types:
Hard Tonneau Covers
Hard tonneau covers are made from materials like aluminum, fiberglass, or polymer plastic. They provide sturdy, rigid protection for the truck bed. Popular brands of hard folding tonneau covers include BAKFlip, Retrax, UnderCover, Extang, and GatorCover.
Soft Tonneau Covers
Soft tonneau covers are made from vinyl, canvas, or other fabric materials. They roll or fold up for versatile cargo access. Leading soft roll up tonneau brands include Access, TruXedo, Extang, and Tyger Auto.
Vinyl is a common material used in many soft tonneau cover designs. It is durable, water-resistant, and provides good UV protection.
Purpose Of A Vinyl Protectant Spray
A vinyl protectant spray is formulated to keep vinyl, rubber, and plastic surfaces looking clean and protected. Key benefits of vinyl protectant include:
- Restores luster – Makes vinyl look darker and like new again.
- Prevents fading – Blocks UV rays to prevent sun damage and fading.
- Repels water – Causes water to bead up and roll off instead of soaking in.
- Inhibits dirt buildup – Leaves a protective coating that makes dirt less likely to stick.
- Conditions material – Softens and moisturizes to keep vinyl supple.
Using a protectant spray 1-2 times per year can maintain the appearance and extend the lifespan of a vinyl tonneau cover.
Is It Safe For Tonneau Covers? What To Look For.
The main question is whether vinyl protectant sprays are safe to use on tonneau covers or if they may cause damage over time. Here are some tips:
1. Check Manufacturer Guidelines
The tonneau cover owner’s manual or manufacturer website will often provide care recommendations. Follow their guidance for approved cleaners and protectants to use. Using non-approved chemicals often voids the warranty.
2. Choose A Tonneau-Safe Formula
Some vinyl protectants contain ingredients like silicon or alcohol that can prematurely break down vinyl tonneau covers. Opt for a gentler formula designed specifically for tonneau covers.
3. Spot Test First
Apply a small amount in a hidden area and let it dry completely. Check for any adverse effects like discoloration, streaking, cracking, or changes to texture. If all looks normal, it should be safe to use overall.
4. Avoid Overapplication
Use only a thin layer of protectant. Over-saturation can damage vinyl over time and leave a greasy buildup that attracts dirt. Wipe off any excess liquid.
5. Consider Less Frequent Use
For added precaution, limit applications to just once or twice per year instead of monthly. This reduces long-term chemical exposure.
Using these tips helps ensure vinyl protectant spray will safely clean, condition, and renew a vinyl tonneau cover rather than harm it. Check that the product is specifically designed for tonneau covers.
Top Tonneau Cover Protectants And Cleaners
Rather than general vinyl protectants, it is wise to use specialty tonneau cover care products. Here are some top options:
- Specially formulated for TruXedo soft tonneau covers
- Cleans dirt, dust, and grime
- Conditions and protects vinyl
- Helps prevent UV damage
- Extends tonneau cover life
- Made for Extang soft roll up tonneaus
- Foaming spray formula lifts dirt
- Protects against UV rays, aging, drying
- Repels dust and resists staining
- Safe for vinyl, snaps, seals, etc.
- Developed for UnderCover polymer hard covers
- Protects smooth matte finish
- Foaming spray cleaner
- Microfiber cloth for gentle cleaning
- Wax-based protectant
- Designed for Gator hard folding truck bed covers
- Conditions gaskets, snaps, hinges
- Foaming cleanser degreases and brightens
- Protects against UV damage and fading
- Repels dust, dirt, and liquids
- Made for 3D soft vinyl tonneaus
- pH balanced foaming spray cleaner
- Protectant conditions vinyl
- Repels dust, dirt, and liquids
- Helps prevent UV damage
- Extends cover life
These specialized tonneau cover care kits provide a safe cleaning and conditioning solution. Follow the product instructions for best results.
How To Clean A Tonneau Cover
Regular cleaning is the first step in caring for a vinyl tonneau cover. Here is a simple cleaning process:
- Tonneau cover foaming cleanser
- Soft brush and microfiber cloths
- Hose with pressurized water stream
- Use the foaming cleanser and soft brush to loosen dirt on both the top and bottom surfaces of the vinyl cover. Avoid harsh scrubbing.
- For hard to reach spots, spray cleanser and let it soak briefly before brushing.
- Rinse thoroughly with clean water using moderate pressure to blast away all suds and grime.
- Allow the cover to air dry completely before using any vinyl protectants.
- Wipe down with protectant and microfiber cloth. Use sparingly and buff away excess.
- For periodic deep cleaning, repeat the wash process before reapplying the protectant.
Proper cleaning is key before attempting to use any vinyl conditioners or protectants. It removes dirt, dust, and buildup that can make the cover look dull.
How Often To Use A Vinyl Protectant
When it comes to frequency of use, less is often more with vinyl tonneau protectants. Here are some general guidelines:
- For soft vinyl covers, use every 3-6 months
- For hard covers, use 1-2 times per year
- In harsh environments with intense sun, dirt, and weathering, protect every 2-3 months
- In cooler climates, yearly application may suffice
- Avoid overusing. 1-2 times per year is often adequate.
Assess the cover condition and climate factors. More frequent cleaning may be needed, but limit protectant use to avoid buildup. Follow manufacturer guidance on reapplication intervals.
The Bottom Line – Is Vinyl Protectant Safe For Tonneau Covers?
The short answer is yes, vinyl protectant sprays are generally safe for tonneau covers if used properly. To get the benefits without damaging your cover:
- Use a tonneau-specific vinyl protectant, not a general one
- Do a spot test on a hidden area first
- Apply a thin layer and wipe away any excess
- Limit applications to every 3-6 months or 1-2 times per year
- Clean the cover thoroughly before using protectants
Following these tips allows vinyl treatments to clean, condition, and protect your soft roll up or hard folding tonneau cover without risk of damage. Keep your cover looking its best for years to come.