Along with some basic questions — do car covers damage car paint? — people wonder how to clean custom car covers. After all, automotive covers are large and bulky items, often made of specialty materials, that may leave many consumers confused about care and maintenance. Thankfully, caring for a cover is not that difficult or time-consuming, but like most things, every cover is unique, and you should check with the manufacturer before taking any tips or processes as universal. It is possible that your cover is special and requires a unique approach to cleaning, so check with your manufacturer before doing anything.
Review Care Instructions
Before washing it, you need to learn how to care for your car cover. Every manufacturer likely attaches a label to the cover itself that describes the cleaning and care instructions. However, if there is no tag on the cover, look for the instructions or any materials that came with the product. If you still cannot find any instructions, contact the supplier or manufacturer of the cover. Any manufacturer can tell you whether you should machine or hand wash the cover.
Machine Washing Your Cover
Most covers today are machine washable, but they are often too large for residential machines, meaning you will need to go to a laundromat with commercial-sized machines. You will need a mild detergent. For many covers, you will add a 1/4 cup of detergent to the machine. You will select the appropriate cycle and allow the machine to start filling. When the detergent is dissolved, you can put your cover in the wash. Allow it to run through a wash and rinse cycle, but put it through additional rinse cycles to ensure all soap is removed. Never use a dryer, unless the manufacturer stipulates it.
Washing Your Cover By Hand
If your cover is not machine washable or you do not have access to a laundromat, then you can clean the cover on your car. You will need a mild detergent, bucket, water, sponge/cloth and a hose. You want to start by spraying the cover with a hose to remove any loose debris. Then mix the water and detergent in the bucket and soak the sponge. Using circular motions, apply the cleaner thoroughly across the entire cover. Finally, rinse the cover with the hose. Once the surface is clean, you can turn the cover inside out and repeat the process.
Be Watchful of Stains
While a cover helps prevent some damage, it does not prevent all. Sap, excess dirt and bird droppings can get through the cover and stain or damage the vehicle body. Therefore, you need to be mindful of these issues when they occur, allowing for a quick response. For sap, you can use mineral spirits or denatures alcohol to remove it from the cover. To remove excess dirt, you can try using a stain remover and then washing the cover. Finally, vinegar, stain remover or other specialty products can remove bird poop.
A car cover does not offer maintenance-free protection for your vehicle. However, it is a useful product. Contact a car cover distributor to discuss the benefits of covers and how to maintain them.