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Cleaning Convertible Tops: A Step by Step Guidance for Beginners 

Cleaning Convertible Tops: A Step by Step Guidance for Beginners 

Here’s how the cleaning convertible tops process goes:

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  • Identify your convertible top material
  • Prepare the right cleaning product
  • Apply the product and rinse with water
  • Apply vinyl protection (in case of vinyl convertible tops)
  • Apply a water repellant (in case of cloth convertible tops) 

Convertible tops are special addition attracting a lot of customers. Enjoying these tops requires a certain level of care slightly more than any other vehicle. 

Convertible tops are made of different materials, and depending on the type of material, cleaning methods and caring approaches can be slightly different. As a result, the market has several convertible tops cleaners that work for one type of convertible top material but not the other.

In some scenarios, if your convertible top is torn or ripped off, the only solution for you is to bring in a professional to replace it. The good news is that you can apply certain tips and tricks to maintain the lifespan of your convertible top as much as possible.

Cleaning convertible tops is one of their very essential skill sets that you need to have if you decided to purchase a vehicle with a convertible top. This article provides you with all you need to know about cleaning convertible tops for several materials. It serves as a step-by-step guide for beginners but does not only help you clean your convertible top, but also teaches you some lessons learned and other skills to maintain the lifespan of your convertible top. 

How to determine what kind of convertible top my vehicle has? 

Before we dive into the details about cleaning convertible tops, it's important to identify the type of material your convertible top is made of. Knowing this information is essential to prevent causing any damages to your convertible top.

There are several methods you can follow to determine what kind of convertible top your vehicle has, including:

  • Your vehicles owner’s manual 

To determine your convertible top material, you can first start by referring to your vehicle's owner’s manual. The manual should have detailed information about what type of material is used. In addition, it provides some recommendations on how to clean it up properly, along with some details about the frequency of cleaning your convertible top. 

If you don't have a copy of your vehicle owner’s manual, you can always download a soft copy from the Internet or purchase a printed copy from a mechanic or auto repair shop. 

  • Visual inspection 

If you don't have your vehicle owner’s manual and would like a quick answer about the type of convertible top you have, you might need to perform a visual inspection. Usually, the vinyl looks more like plastic but not like cloth. You can also try putting a fuzz or lint on top of the convertible, and if it's ticked, it indicates that it's more of a cloth Convertible. However, if it didn't stick and just flew out, it indicates that this is a vinyl convertible. 

  • The water trick

Another simple trick to help you identify the type of computer you have is using what we call the water trick. Simply apply a small amount of water to the convertible, and using your index try to rub it around. If your convertible is vinyl, water should not sync through; however, if you have a cloth convertible, water usually saturates to the material.

It's important to prevent applying a lot of water because this water can damage the internal components. Therefore, we usually recommend applying only about one spoon of water to test the convertible type. 

Cleaning convertible tops: how to clean vinyl convertible tops? 

Once you determine the convertible top material, the next step is to follow a certain procedure for cleaning it. The following sections show you how to clean your vinyl convertible top and a step-by-step procedure. 

  • Select the proper vinyl convertible top cleaner 

The nice thing about vinyl convertible tops is that they are designed to allow you to wash them using any car wash soap. The important thing here is to make sure that you are applying the right ratio of water based on what's indicated in the car soap instructions.

If your convertible top has a lot of dirt and you're not comfortable using a simple car wash, you can purchase a commercial product designed specifically for cleaning convertible tops made of vinyl materials. Purchasing the rights product is a must. You don't want your vinyl color to fade out over time because you're not using the right material. 

It's very important to review the instructions and details on applying the cleaner and how to clean it up. It also might have some details about the frequency of applying the cleaner. 

  • Rinse the cleaner with water 

Keep in mind that you must wash the mixture thoroughly with water after rubbing the dirt to prevent soap from hardening, especially when you park your vehicle under the sun for lengthy periods. 

  • Apply an anti-mildew product 

Vinyl convertible tops are known for developing a lot of mildew. Therefore, consider purchasing a vinyl convertible top cleaner that includes an Anti-mildew product to help to prevent it in the future.

Keep in mind that it's never recommended to use any household on-time elder product on your convertible top because it might hurt it or cause some damage is. 

  • Spray a vinyl protectant

After finishing cleaning the vinyl convertible top, it's time now to spray a vinyl protectant. The purpose of this project is to prevent your vinyl from being away, especially if you park your vehicle and sunny parking lots.

Automotive experts recommend applying the vinyl protectant multiple times a year, especially if you own an older vehicle. For example, you might need to apply for vinyl protection every couple of months if your car is seven years or older. 

Cleaning convertible tops: how to clean convertible cloth tops? 

If you are inspection confirmed that your vehicle has a cloth convertible top, the cleaning process will be slightly different. Here is all you need to do: 

  • Purchased the right cleaning product

For cleaning convertible cloth tops, you can't use a car wash salt. Instead, you need to purchase a designated product made for fabric or cloth. Automotive experts recommend avoiding applying any cleaning materials from your house or any car wash because it can damage the fabric as it's not very resilient to chemicals.

  • Brush and scrub the top using a moderately stiff brush 

After applying the cleaning product, you might need to brush certain dirt using a moderately stiff brush. However, you don't need to use every rough brush because it can damage the fabric or leave some marks after rubbing the dirt. 

  • Test your convertible top for water repelling 

Before you rinse the product with water, it's important to test the convertible top and see for any issues with water-repelling. Usually, the convertible top is designed in a way that allows it to repel water but come over time of use; it might get damaged, causing water to leak inside the vehicle. 

  • Rinse the cleaner with water 

If you notice that water is not repelling over the convertible top, it's recommended that you apply a certain product called water repellent on the top of the convertible top first before rinsing with water.

It's recommended that you apply the water repellent multiple times monthly, especially if your vehicle's convertible top is not in good condition. While watering plants are great treatment options, they're not considered permanent, and you might need to consult a professional when the top is due for replacements. 

What is the best cleaner for a convertible top? 

The market is filled with different examples of convertible tops cleaners for those made of vinyl or cloth. We recommend that you go through the list below and determine which one works to achieve your goals and stay within your budget. 

You don't have to purchase the most expensive convertible top cleaner because it might be beyond what you're looking for. Instead, you must evaluate the situation and see the amount of dirt you have on the convertible top and decide on what type of cleaner serves your needs. 

Let's take a closer look at some of the best convertible top cleaners in the market: 

  • Mckee’s Plex All Cleaner and Polish
  • Chemical Guys Convertible Top Cleaner and Convertible Top Protectant Kit
  • Bestop Soft Top Zipper Cleaner & Lubricant Retail Package
  • Blue Magic 707 Convertible Top Cleaner with Trigger – 16 fl. Oz.
  • Protex World Convertible Soft Top Canvas Waterproofer
  • Raggtopp Fabric Convertible Top Cleaner/Protectant Kit
  • Genuine Chrysler Convertible Cloth Top Treatment
  • Griot’s Garage Convertible Top Cleaner
  • Raggtopp Premium Convertible Top Brush
  • Porsche Cabriolet Top Protectant and Waterproofer

How often should you clean your convertible top? 

It all depends. Most automotive experts recommend that to clean your convertible top at least once every one or two weeks. The frequency might increase slightly if you're parking continuously in areas that are not protected by a parking structure or a garage. 

Keep in mind that you need to wash the convertible top more frequently in summer because high temperatures and consistent exposure to sun rays can be harmful to the convertible top. However, when washing it with water, you can help maintain the lifetime of this convertible top. 

Can you wash a convertible top in a car wash? 

Usually, most convertible tops are designed to allow you to get them washed at a car wash. Considering the type of brush and the speed the car wash brush rotates with, it shouldn't be a problem at all and will not damage your convertible top. 

You'd better refer to your vehicle's owner’s manual and confirm that there are no instructions or recommendations on preventing washing your convertible top in a car wash. 

Keep in mind that if your convertible top is not in good condition, you might not be able to go through a car wash. The typical and usual situation assumes that the convertible top is in good condition. 

Styles, you will be the best person to judge whether your car can go through a car wash or not based on its current status. 

Can you drive a soft-top convertible in the rain? 

It's usually not recommended. However, whether you drive a car with a vinyl or cloth convertible top, your vehicle is still susceptible to leaks that might damage the internal components.

Thus, unless there is an emergency, you are recommended to keep the vehicle home and never drive in rain or heavy snow. 


Convertible tops are unique features of several vehicles. To enjoy these features, you need to maintain a high level of cleaning and protection. Depending on the type of convertible top material, the cleaning process of cleaning products might be different. 

This article provides you with a step by step procedure on cleaning convertible tops, including those made of vinyl and the other is made of cloth. The most important thing in cleaning convertible tops is to purchase the right product that works on your convertible top material and consider cleaning the top at least once every one or two weeks. 

If you notice that your convertible top has many damages, it might not be worth cleaning up because the only solution you have is to replace it. On the other hand, if you notice that repair costs and replacement costs might be a little expensive, it might be the right time now to sell your car to Cash Cars Buyer. 

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