How to wash a vehicle with a car wrap - Professional Carwashing & Detailing

How to wash a vehicle with a car wrap

Safe practices for washing vehicles with car wraps.

Car wraps are a popular trend among car owners. They are an easy solution to upgrading a car surface. Instead of the cumbersome job of repainting a car, wrapping it is a much easier and faster option. It also gives it a great look. Several options are available, including a matte, metallic or glossy look.

Related: Detailing matte vehicle surfaces

Car wrapping is often used by businesses to put advertising on vehicles, because it’s easy to put on and remove in case there is a need to change. For regular car owners that love a stylish look, wrapping is a great way to customize a vehicle with a unique design or color. With all these benefits, you will find many car owners choosing to wrap their cars.

While a car wrap looks trendy, taking care of the car and maintaining the excellent finish is a sensitive matter. You cannot afford to treat a wrapped vehicle like you do one with a paint job. It is harmful to wash a car wrap with strong soap and vigorous scrubbing. It also needs delicate care when wiping, washing and anything else you do to the surface. 

However, the fact that car wrapping needs gentle care does not mean that it has to be a dirty car. It only means that whenever you clean a wrapped vehicle, you should be very careful to maintain the integrity of the wrap.

What to avoid when cleaning a car wrap vehicle

Harsh cleaners

Before we give you suggestions on how to wash a wrapped vehicle, it’s best to start with what you should not do to it. First, avoid the regular carwash soaps. Using traditional car soap, for instance, on the wrap will likely fade it.

Instead, use a soap that is specifically made for wrapped cars to maintain the beauty, design and texture of the surface. These car wrap cleaners will cleanse the vehicle thoroughly and still keep the brightness and strength of the material so the car can continue to look great for a long time.

Another effective way to avoid using harsh soaps on the car is to use waterless car wrap wash liquid. It eliminates the danger of leaving watermarks on the vehicle or harming the surface using high water pressure. It also makes it easy to clean away dirt and grime, because it breaks the dirt down, and all you have to do is wipe it off gently. Lastly, it leaves a protective shine on the car that keeps the car cleaner for longer by keeping off dust.


Secondly, you must avoid buffing. Of course, you may ask, where is the harm? It’s just a cloth shine job. While it seems harmless, buffing a car wrap surface is not. The thing to note is the car surface is rarely free of small debris. You may not see it, but it’s there.

When you buff, you run the risk of scratching the surface of the wrap with small but gritty dirt particles, leaving unsightly marks. These marks will interfere with your car’s aesthetics and are, at times, hard to get off. So, buffing should be left out.

Rough cloths

When it comes to cloths, the softer, the better. Rough cloths may scratch the vehicle and leave unsightly marks. Stay away from rough brushes, even if you are going for the sparkling clean look. The bristles will likely harm the car’s surface, leaving scratches that are difficult to get out.

Harsh stain removal

Sometimes, you will come out and find bird droppings on your customer’s car or some tree debris on it. When driving around, no matter how careful they are, customers could pick up dust, and if it’s raining, some mud. Also, wrapped cars look great, and people may want to touch them, leaving oily and dirty fingerprints.

The reflex reaction to such stains on car wrap vehicles is to buff or scrape away the dirt. Avoid doing this, as it will only harm the car’s surface. Instead, work on such problems using the right cleaning procedure that we will detail later on.

For stains, you can purchase stain removers for car wrap vehicles. Alternatively, a good trick is to use an isopropyl in water solution in a 2:1 ratio to clean out stains. Remember to test any cleaner or stain remover on a small hidden area of the car first before using it on a large surface to see how it reacts with the car surface. It will save you from damaging the vehicle while trying to clean it.

Waxes or polishes

Also, avoid using regular wax or polish on a car wrap. It seems like a beautiful thing to do to keep a car looking glossy or protect the surface, but many of these waxes and polishes harm the wrap and cause it to age faster. By nature of the wrap material, it is made to look glossy or matte or metallic without any extra work, so a wash and dry will do just fine to keep it looking its best.

Avoid heat and rough pressure

Since the car wrap heats up from heat exposure, it’s not a good idea to wipe it or put pressure on it when it’s hot. You will end up with unsightly indents and marks. Worse, you can wrinkle the car wrap, because at such times, it’s quite malleable. Make sure to park it in a cool, shady spot for cleaning.

Correct wrap cleaning procedures

If you are a carwash owner and want to cater to vehicles with a wrap finish, this is for you. For starters, you cannot use the automatic wash for car wrap vehicles. Invest in car wrap care training for staff so they can treat the cars with the delicate treatment necessary to avoid damage.

Many car wrap vehicle owners are sensitive about their cars, so they need experts with training that will wash them with care. Customer care training on how to handle clients will also come in handy. They need to explain to the car wrap vehicle customers the do’s and don’ts of car wrap vehicle maintenance. Many clients feel better leaving their vehicles in the hands of staff who are knowledgeable and good at taking care of car wrap vehicles.

Related: The secrets to successful detailing

Generally, there are a few things your staff should do when washing a car wrap vehicle. For example, have your employees use pressure washers or spray nozzles with very mild pressure. The pressure washers and nozzles should always be used at least 12 inches away from the car to avoid making indentations. Alternatively, let them pour the water on manually.

Also, make sure that anyone washing car wrap vehicles uses lukewarm water and avoids hot water altogether, because heat affects the material. Invest in mild and non-abrasive soaps that are made to clean car wraps to prevent bleaching or fading.

It’s a good idea to purchase specific stain removers for car wrap surfaces. Avoid oil- or solvent-based products, as they will affect the wrap, and invest in microfiber cloths that are soft on the car surface.

In case of an accidental scratch, there is a trick you can use to fix the problem. Car wraps adhere to the surface using heat. By directing a hair dryer on a scratch or dent from 12 inches away, you can warm it up. When the wrap warms up, the dent or scratch will fade out, resulting in a smooth surface that looks as good as new.

Sometimes, accidents happen, and one of your staff may damage a client’s car wrap vehicle. If this happens, insurance can help. Your carwash must be insured for accidental damages to customers’ cars. However, you will find that it’s better to settle the matter amicably and pay for the repairs yourself to avoid hiking your premiums. Therefore, it’s a good idea to liaise with a reliable car wrap repair expert to help whenever such matters arise.

More and more people are using car wrap vehicles and will appreciate a carwash that will preserve the delicate exterior of the vehicle while cleaning it thoroughly. This is a boost to your business, as it opens up a new revenue stream.

There are a lot of people with car wrap vehicles looking for a trusted place to take their cars for cleaning, but it is up to you to attract and keep them coming back. One great idea is to put up a visible sign advertising your special car wrap vehicle detailing services. You may have advertising campaigns once in a while offering some free detailing service for car wrap vehicles to bring them in.

Ensure that all car wrap vehicle owners who come to your carwash are handled by experts to give them confidence in your services. Using these tips and suggestions, you will find that car wrap vehicle detailing can bring you a lot of income. Try it out.

Steve Wright is a freelance writer who loves cars, playing basketball and business. He works closely with and as a content specialist, helping them build their online presences through friendly, engaging and shareable web content. When not hunched over his computer thinking loudly, you can find him playing pop music with his band, reading horror novels or traveling.

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