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There’s nothing quite like driving with your car top down, putting your foot on the accelerator and hitting the open road. The feeling of the wind blowing around you as you cruise through the beautiful Australian sights is an exhilarating experience. However, every convertible owner knows that this type of car needs extra special care to keep it looking like it just rolled brand new out of the showroom.

The longevity and appearance of your convertible top is dependent on consistent maintenance. This involves proper cleaning and protection for your specific convertible top type. An automatic car wash or simple hand wash at home without exercising caution can result in the premature deterioration of or damage to your convertible top. This could both ruin its appearance and cause a leak that leaves you requiring a costly replacement.

In this short guide, we explain how to wash soft top convertibles yourself and offer some better alternatives. At Star Car Wash, we are experts in hand-washing and detailing cars, including soft-top convertibles. Check our expert car wash services to find the right package for your vehicle.

Is your convertible top fabric or vinyl?

Before you get stuck in washing your car’s convertible top, you will need to know whether it’s made from a fabric or vinyl material.

A quick and easy way to determine the material of your convertible top is to begin by placing a few drops of water onto the soft top and then trying to rub the water into the material. If the water starts to soak in, it is more than likely fabric. However, if it sits on the top and just smears, it is more than likely vinyl.

Cleaning a fabric convertible top

This next step is crucial in order to avoid a crossover of cleaning materials that may negatively affect your convertible’s soft top.

Fabric tops are the most popular type of soft top for modern convertible cars. The best way to clean the fabric on top of your convertible is by washing it gently with a microfibre wash mitt. Wash the top in soap mixed with some warm water. The key is to not get any of the cleaning solution on the vehicle’s paint because it can leave unwanted streaks, spots and blemishes. Wash the car gently as you pull up each side of your convertible top.

After you have finished washing the soft top, rinse thoroughly until no trace of the cleaning product remains. After this, you should then carefully dry the top using chamois to avoid leaving any lint. Fabric (canvas) tops often dry better on their own once the beading water has been removed.

Cleaning a vinyl convertible top

Cleaning a vinyl convertible top is a similar process to washing a fabric soft top but the cleaning products used should be specifically formulated for vinyl. Standard car wash and fabric cleaning products can damage the vinyl material on your soft top and this is why it’s vital to be careful when purchasing cleaning products to prevent this.

As with a fabric top, it’s advisable not to wash a convertible car with a vinyl top in direct sunlight. This is because the sun can evaporate the water quickly and leave residue on the top of your vehicle.

It is also important to clean the rear flexible clear vinyl window correctly. Clean soapy water with a soft mitt to wash and a damp microfibre to dry. No ammonia-based products should be used.

What Not To Use on a Convertible Top

It’s important to maintain your convertible soft top so that it lasts for years to come. Washing it from time to time will help keep the fabric or vinyl looking its best, but there are some tools that you should avoid when washing your convertible. Common household cleaning products can be very harmful to your soft convertible top, so it’s important to take caution when selecting which products to use. Chemicals that shouldn’t be used on or near your convertible top include:

  • Ammonia
  • Bleach
  • Vinegar
  • Alcohol

As well as avoiding these chemicals, there are also two commonly used tools that shouldn’t be used when washing a soft top: hard brushes and towels. Brushes or towels with loose threads can cause your convertible top’s fabric to pill, looking old and worn. It’s best to avoid these kinds of products or any kind of towel that might leave lint behind on your soft top.

How to Protect your Convertible Top

You’ve washed your top, dried it and now you need to protect it. As with any car part, a convertible top’s main weakness is the elements. You want to make sure that your top remains durable over time, and protected from hard water spots or UV damage.

To achieve this, you may want to look at purchasing a protectant. A protectant will help prolong the life of your soft top and prevent premature ageing in the sun. Additionally, a reliable protectant will also enhance the water-resistant properties of your fabric top, while a vinyl treatment will help the vinyl top retain its flexibility and colour.

It is often recommended to park convertible cars in the shade whenever possible as the sun will fade the top and eventually the turn the rear flexible clear vinyl window opaque.

How Can Star Car Wash Help?

Now you know how and why your convertible car requires extra special care for that delicate convertible top material – and yes, it is a real task keeping it in good condition!

If you want to enjoy that ‘new car’ feeling in your soft top convertible without the added risk or hard work of washing it by hand, we will happily do it for you. Our expert team is on hand to help restore your car to its showroom look and feel once more. When regularly washed and protected, you can enjoy many years to come in your cool convertible.

Star Car Wash is Australia’s leading professional hand wash & detailing provider. We provide a variety of premium hand wash and car detailing services to fit your needs and budget.

Your car deserves nothing but the best. If you would like your car washed to the highest quality by our expertly skilled professionals, book online today or visit your nearest Star Car Wash branch.


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