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

Keeping It Clean: Care and Maintenance for Vehicle Wraps

Posted on October 10, 2014 | Posted by Kris Williamson

Have you recently had your vehicle wrapped? Whether you had it wrapped for business or personal use, you may be asking yourself this question: How do I keep it clean? Before you do anything risky, we have listed our recommendations for the proper care and maintenance for vehicle wraps. By following our tips, you will keep your vehicle (and your investment) looking its best for many years to come!

Similar to automotive paint, the vehicle wrap film will lose its luster if it is exposed to dirt, grime or other environmental contaminants for too long. Even UV light and excessive heat can lessen the lifespan and the look of your wrap. Washing your vehicle on a regular basis, and spot cleaning when dirty areas pop up, will help prolong the number of years you will get to enjoy your wrap. 

So how do you keep it clean? Here are our tips for the proper care and maintenance for your vehicle wrap:

Hand wash your vehicle.
We know this may not always be possible, but using a little "elbow grease" is the best option for preserving your wrap. Plus, you will appreciate your vehicle even more when you are done.

  • Rinse your vehicle with clean water to wash away any lose dirt. A garden hose with a nozzle attached works perfectly. 
  • Mix a solution of clean water and a mild detergent. The detergent you choose should be non-abrasive, have a pH balance between 3 and 11, and be free of solvents or alcohols. If you have any questions about the type of detergent to use, please don't hesitate to contact one of our experienced wrap installers. Test your solution in an inconspicuous spot on the vehicle wrap prior to washing the entire vehicle. TIP: Make sure your bucket it free of dirt and small rocks when mixing your solution so you don't accidentally scratch it!
  • Gently wash your vehicle from the top down. You can use a soft sponge or cloth. By starting at the top, all of the dirty water will drip toward the ground. Avoid excessive scrubbing. 
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water using the garden hose with the nozzle attached. 
  • Allow your vehicle to air dry if possible. If you are worried about water spotting, use a microfiber cloth to gently dry the wrap.  
  • Always inspect the vehicle after washing.
Use a soft sponge to wash your vehicle wrap. 12-Point SignWorks
Using a soft sponge with a solution of mild detergent and clean water will clean your vehicle wrap without scratching it.
Waxing your vehicle. 
Waxing is an option...depending on the type of wrap that you have on your vehicle. Be sure to read below!
  • Do not use a buffer to wax your vehicle. Hand waxing your vehicle every three months will prolong the life of the wrap and give it additional UV protection. DO NOT use a wax that contains petroleum distillates or abrasive components. Always test the wax on the wrap in an inconspicuous area prior to waxing the entire vehicle. 
  • Do you have a matte, satin, carbon fiber, textured, or other unique finish wrap? If you do, a 2:1 ratio of isopropyl alcohol and water applied with a clean, microfiber cloth will do a nice job of maintaining the finish on your vehicle wrap. 
Automatic car washes.
We only recommend touchless or brushless automatic car washes. Using a car wash with automated brushes is not recommended because they can scratch the surface, catch and lift edges and corners, and dull the finish of the wrap. TIP: If you do use an automatic car wash, be sure to skip the wax option to avoid harsh and damaging products. Allow the vehicle to dry naturally or gently use a microfiber cloth. 
Power/Pressure washing.
If you don't need it, don't do it. Please use caution when cleaning with a pressure washer.
  • Repeated pressure washing can cause the edges of the wrap to lift and peel.
  • Over time, pressure washing can cause the wrap to dull, fade, crack and possibly even chip away from the vehicle.
  • If you need to use a pressure washer: use cold or tepid water, use a spray nozzle with a 40 degree wide spray patter, hold the nozzle 12-15" from the wrap, use the lowest water pressure possible (800-1200 psi is recommended), and keep the nozzle perpendicular to the wrap. 
Environmental factors. 
Be careful where you drive and park.
  • Try to park your car in the shade, in a garage or under cover whenever possible.
  • Try to avoid aggressive driving over gravel whenever possible to prevent stones and pebbles from kicking up and damaging the wrap.
  • Avoid parking around trees, shrubs and low-hanging branches, which can scratch and damage the wrap.
  • Birds, bugs and trees can and will leave their marks on your vehicle. If that happens, remove the contaminate as soon as you can to avoid staining and permanent damage. You can spot clean with a microfiber cloth and isopropryl alcohol. If that doesn't work, give us a call for recommendations. 
You will enjoy your vehicle wrap for much longer if you follow our care and maintenance recommendations. If you ever notice anything unusual or concerning, do not hesitate to contact our team of experts. We are happy to help you and keep you looking good on the road!
Are you interested in more information? Contact us or click the button below. We are always here to help!
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