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How to Wash a Vinyl Wrapped Car

Tips on How to Wash a Vinyl Wrapped Car

How to Wash a Vinyl Wrapped Car

You see them everywhere – vinyl-wrapped vehicles displaying local brand names or graphics of various designs. Even your friend’s vinyl-wrapped car is a sight to behold. They are, indeed, attention-grabbers. So you are actually considering it for your ride. But, then you wonder – how to wash a vinyl wrapped car?

Before You Wash a Vinyl Wrapped Car

Understanding Vinyl Car Wraps

A vinyl wrap adds an extra layer of protection to your car’s paint. It safeguards a car against stone chips, sand, dust, grime, bird droppings, tree sap, and more. It can also shield your vehicle from the powerful UV rays of the sun, snow and rain.

The most popular vinyl wrap brands are 3M and Avery. Properly installed, a vinyl wrap can stay functional and aesthetically pleasing for two to four years.

That’s why an increasing number of people opt to have their car vinyl-wrapped. But no matter how tough it is, you still have to clean it regularly. Otherwise, those neglected bird droppings or tree saps can soften the vinyl and ruin the exterior of your car. After all, auto preventive maintenance is always cheaper than fighting the results of neglect. The question is – how to wash a vinyl wrapped car? Will it be a good idea to take it to an auto wash or not? What materials do you need?

Auto Wash or Hand Wash?

Your vinyl wrapped car is similar to the vinyl frying pan in your kitchen. Scrub it with a hard brush and strong detergents and you’ll notice your pan’s vinyl coming off sooner. The same thing can happen to your car if you subject it to the huge brushes and gigantic cloths of automated car washes.

The best way to clean it is by hand and organic cleaning materials to keep the vinyl beautiful longer.

How to Wash a Vinyl Wrapped Car

Pre Wash

Here are a few things to remember on how to wash a vinyl wrapped car.

Be Gentle on Your Vinyl

Vinyl is softer than paint, so you have to exercise caution when cleaning it. Stay away from abrasive detergents or cutting compounds as these can scratch the vinyl. As much as possible, use recommended products for cleaning vinyl wraps.

Stay Away from the Sun

Clean your car in a covered area to prevent water and soap from drying up quickly. You wouldn’t want hard water spots on your prized possession, would you?

Clean According to the Condition of Your Vehicle

If your car is too dirty, use a pressure washer. Make sure the pressure does not exceed 2000 psi and that the temperature of the water is below 80°C.

If your car is not too dirty, the old but reliable two-bucket method is recommended. Make sure you use a bucket with a grit guard.

Soaking Is for Clothes, Not for Vinyl

Do not let cleaning solutions stand and soak. Rinse off immediately. Prolonged exposure to cleaning substances can loosen the adhesive underneath.

Washing a Vinyl Wrapped Car

Tools and Materials

Gather all the tools and materials for washing your vinyl wrapped car. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Car wash soap – it would be best to follow your detailer’s choice for this product to ensure superior results
  • Washcloths – sponges can be used as an alternative
  • Microfiber towels – best for thorough drying
  • Squeegee – for quick drying while working
  • Pressure washer – for very dirty vehicles

Paint Check

Check your car’s paint for stubborn contaminants. Do a thorough inspection of your car’s exterior. Any bird droppings, tree saps or other stubborn contaminants? If yes, soak the spots in hot soapy water for a few minutes. Once they soften, rub the area with a clean washcloth. Repeat the process if necessary.


Wash the entire car with clean water to dislodge dirt, grit, and grime. This ensures that no contaminants will scratch the vinyl.

Tires Go First

Just like cleaning a non-wrapped car, it is best to clean the tires first. Doing this will save you time from rinsing or drying your car a second time around.

Roof Work

Proceed to the roof. Work section by section – shampoo, rinse, and dry with a squeegee. This is to prevent the car wash soap from seeping underneath the vinyl.

Air Dry

Let air do its job and dry the car. You can help by wiping off with a microfiber towel.


Should you wax a vinyl wrapped car after washing it? We strongly advise you to check with your detailer. It’s because some car vinyl wrap manufacturers like 3M do not recommend it.

How Often Should You Wash Your Vinyl Wrapped Car?

The vinyl on your car protects it from contaminants, both natural and man-made. However, you should also clean it as often as you would clean a non-wrap car. Contaminants left standing on the vinyl for a long time can eventually ruin its beauty and worse, scratch the vinyl. This will allow moisture and contaminants to seep in.

Now, if you want the best results for your vinyl-wrapped car, schedule an appointment with DetailXPerts. Our polite, friendly, and efficient technicians will be more than happy to serve you.

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