Vinyl graphics and accents can turn any ordinary vehicle into a work of art. We apply everything from subtle striping to complete re-coloring and bold designs. Vinyl graphics are not quite as robust as factory paint though, which means owners should be extra careful to avoid damaging the vinyl application.
Can I take my wrapped vehicle through a car wash?
This is one of the more common questions asked about vinyl. While technically there’s nothing wrong with taking a wrapped vehicle through an automated car wash, we don’t recommend doing it because it increases the risk of irreversible damage to the material. Not all car washes are the same, but most will have high pressure water jets that can lift the seams/edges of the vinyl material and may even cause rips. Brushes with harsh bristles can also cause tearing and ripping.
Even if you see no immediate damage from an automated car wash afterward, consistent use of these car washes will certainly reduce the overall lifespan of the vinyl.
What about manual car washes with hand-held sprayers and brushes?
We would still recommend against using the “self-serve” car washes that provide you with a high pressure sprayer and brush. Firstly, you have no idea what kind of debris and grime has collected in those brushes from previous vehicles, and there’s a chance you could end up applying dirt or other impurities onto your vinyl and paint causing scratches and blemishes.
The hand-held sprayers may not be quite as powerful as an automated car wash; however user behavior becomes a new problem in this situation. Holding a high pressure sprayer too close to the vinyl can result in lifting seams, creating gaps, and possibly tearing the material just like the water jets in an automated car wash.
Which is the best way to clean my wrapped vehicle to avoid damaging the vinyl?
By far, the most recommended way to keep your wrapped vehicle clean is to wash it by hand. The essentials you’ll need for this are a microfiber cloth, a soft sponge, and non-abrasive soap. Better still, you can also use a waterless car wash, such as Aquanil from CroftgateUSA, to keep your ride clean while protecting the paint and vinyl.
Aquanil is a product we use in-house at DeDona to clean and protect vinyl without the need for water. This product includes a mix of detergents and macro polymers, breaking down and suspending dirt and grime to make cleaning easier. The macro polymers left behind provide a protective coating and long-lasting shine. Aquanil also contains anti-statics which help keep dust from collecting on your vehicle’s surfaces, and make future cleanings easier.
You can order this product directly from CroftgateUSA’s website here, or grab a bottle while you’re visiting our shop to keep your ride looking its best without risking damage from a car wash.