Professional Carwashing & Detailing

How to clean convertible tops

March 27, 2013

Once you've got the right chemicals for cleaning and protecting convertible tops, the process is quite simple.

Initial treatment: New vehicle

Before even getting the vehicle wet:

  1. Vacuum the convertible top using an upholstery brush to pick up any loose dirt or dust.
  2. Next, wet down the top thoroughly and mist it evenly with the fabric/vinyl cleaner. If necessary, the cleaner can be lightly agitated using a soft nylon brush.
  3. Rinse the top thoroughly until all foam from the cleaner dissipates. Allow the top to dry completely.
  4. Once the top is thoroughly dry, apply the appropriate protectant evenly across the entire exposed fabric surface in three light coats, allowing the product to dry 10 minutes or so between coats. This service will take no more than an hour, sometimes less depending on drying times.

It is reasonable to charge a wholesale rate of $50-100 per vehicle. Retail service can easily fetch $100-200 dollars on a standard vehicle.

These charges are quite reasonable when compared to the cost of replacing a convertible top.

Reconditioning treatment: Used vehicle

If the convertible top is on an older vehicle or has not been appropriately cared for, the top will need to be rejuvenated before adding protection.

Detailers should:

  1. Start by thoroughly vacuuming the top with an upholstery brush.
  2. Then thoroughly wet down the top. Spray it with a cleaner approved by the manufacturer.
  3. If the top is heavily soiled let the cleaner dwell for up to 15 minutes, but make sure it doesn't dry out.
  4. Then scrub it gently but thoroughly with a soft nylon brush, using a circular or back-and-forth crisscross motion.
  5. Rinse the top thoroughly and until all foam from the cleaner dissipates.
    Multiple cleanings using the process above may be necessary to remove as much of the accumulated soil as possible, especially for tops that are several years old.
  6. After all of the cleaning is done, allow the top to dry completely.
  7. Once the top is thoroughly dry, apply an appropriate protectant evenly across the entire exposed fabric surface.

It may be necessary to use up to two times the number of coats recommended for a new top. It's better to apply light coats, allowing 10 minutes or so of sun-drying time between coats.

This entire process may take from one to two hours, depending on drying times.

Wholesale charges range from $75-150 per vehicle. Retail convertible top reconditioning service can easily fetch $150-250 dollars on a standard vehicle.

Post-Treatment: Regular maintenance

Once the initial treatment is complete, it's important to inform customers that following up with regular re-treatment will keep their convertible top looking great and protected for years to come.

Vinyl tops should be properly cleaned and re-treated every four to six weeks for maximum protection.

Likewise, fabric tops should be cleaned and retreated every three to six months.

Between formal treatments, standard carwashing is acceptable and advisable. Although most automatic carwashes are safe for convertible tops, those using barrel brushes should be avoided.