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A blog dedicated to custom commercial signage, vehicle wraps and graphics, and business signs of all kinds!

Car Wrap Maintenance Requires Care — How to Keep It Clean

Posted on August 27, 2013 | Posted by Murray Johns

Having a business car wrapped is great mobile option for high visibility marketing. But it's also an investment for your company, so you don’t want to have the wrap damaged so soon after buying it. Careful car wrap maintenance is the key to safely sustaining the car wrap. Here are some maintenance tips to keep your car wrap in great condition:

Service van wrap graphicsWhether your vehicle is fully wrapped or more simply decorated with logo graphics and vinyl lettering, the maintenance of your vehicle graphics will help ensure that this investment will last for several years

  • Drive carefully over loose surfaces. Driving over gravel too aggressively could cause stones or pebbles to fly up and damage the wrap.
  • Clean the vehicle by hand using a soft sponge with a mild soap solution. One wrap vinyl manufacturer recommends the detergent be a dedicated car wash product or a mild detergent. The detergent should be free from abrasive components, have a pH balance between 3 and 11, and be free from strong solvents or alcohols.  Unless you're cleaning perforated window vinyl, you can carefully use a pressure sprayer as long as it's cold or tepid water and you're spraying from a distance. You should never put the nozzle of the sprayer directly on the wrap or on a seam, as this can damage it. An automatic washer’s bristles may also damage the wrap by ripping or tearing it, which would lead to an expensive repair.
  • Never use a buffer to wax the vehicle. Instead, hand wax the vehicle with an approved wax at least every three months to prolong the life of the wrap (waxing the car wrap provides additional UV protection). Waxing will also aid the removal process, making re-doing the wrap easier when the time comes to renew.  Make sure to not use wax that contains petroleum distillates.
  • Watch where you park the car. Parking underneath certain trees for any amount of time can cause damage to the wrap as certain tree sap interacts with it.  Recommended by one wrap vinyl manufacturer: For difficult to remove contaminants, such as bird droppings, bug splatter, tree sap, etc., try to soften them by soaking for several minutes with hot, soapy water then rinse thoroughly. If a harsher chemical is needed, be sure to test first in an inconspicuous area. 
  • If you have perforated window vinyl, wax it regularly. This will prolong the life of the wrap. But remember never to use a pressure sprayer on the perforated window vinyl, as it can damage the material.

van wrap window perf see through vinylPerforated window wrap vinyl that allows the driver and passengers to see through to the outside also needs care to maximize its longevity. Even then, "window perf" typically will not last as long as regular wrap vinyl.

Matte wraps are a different situation than a standard gloss finish car wrap; matte vehicle wraps should not be waxed.  Typically a 50/50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water will work well to clean a matte car wrap, but if something more aggressive is required, you can try using a hot soapy water solution that can sometimes remove contaminants better than isopropyl alcohol. 
For more information or advice on car wrap maintenance or any other sign and design issues you may have, contact 12-Point SignWorks, LLC. Our team of experts is based in Franklin, Tenn., but our work takes us around the nation. 
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