Skip to main content

Vinyl wraps for cars are brand-new anymore, but it is still a revolutionary way to customize our cars. Instead of spending thousands on traditional paintwork, you can spend a fraction to change the color of your car by having it wrapped. But now you’ve had your car wrapped for a few years, and you want to keep the vinyl clean and in good shape. Here’s how to clean the vinyl wrap on your car.

Jaguar I-Pace wrapped in jungle-themed vinyl
Jaguar with vinyl wrap | Wikimedia Commons

How to wash vinyl car wrap

About a year ago, some folks from MotorTrend wrapped a 1995 Ford F-350 in a blue metallic vinyl skin. After a year on the truck, MT decided to walk us through how to take care of, clean, and protect vinyl wraps. 

They started with a particularly dirty F-350. At first glance, the thick layer of dirt looks like it should be hit with the pressure washer first. However, MotorTrend opted to go in a different direction. 

While using a pressure washer on paint is the preferred cleaning method, it is a major mistake for vinyl-wrapped vehicles. However, using the even more traditional method of two buckets, one for soapy water and one with clean water, is still ok. Even still, MotorTrend went the waterless wash route. 

They used Meguiar’s Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax, a spray-on/wipe-off compound. While many of us have been taught to wash away big dirt particles to avoid scratching paint, this wash and wax spray supposedly lifts dirt without damaging the wrap. Also, its Hybrid Ceramic Detailer gives excellent SiO2 protection against the elements and is great for safe, quick dust and fingerprint removal. 

While MT digs this spray, they admit that the level of dirt piled up on the truck is about as much as a waterless wash spray can handle. Heavier debris like mud should be washed with a low-pressure hose and soap. 

How to protect vinyl wraps 

Vinyl Wrapped Ferrari in black
Vinyl Wrapped Ferrari | Wikimedia Commons

The good old-fashioned car cover is one of the best tools MotorTrend recommends for vinyl protection. Seeing as how MT is in LA, they are not only protecting against dirt and dust but also the relentless sun. UV rays can cause paint and vinyl wrap to fade and eventually crack. 

Although, the fit of a car cover matters. As MotorTrend found out when using a sort of one-size-fits-all car cover, a windy day filled the cover and carried it away. Make sure you get the right car cover

MT goes on to give the wise advice of trying to avoid parking near active sprinklers. The water spray won’t hurt the vinyl, but you’ll likely have hard water spots on it when it dries. This, like dirt and dust, can scratch and score paint of vinyl. Also, remember to always wipe your vinyl down before covering your car. 

Vinyl is easy to take care of

Thankfully, vinyl wraps are easy to take care of. Like paint, the main thing is to keep it out of constant direct sunlight, high-pressure water, and anything else that can peel the adhesive. Even though wraps are significantly cheaper than paint, it’s still worth keeping nice for as long as possible.


Does Dr. Pepper Really Pay You to Wrap Your Car?