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The Best Way to Clean a Tonneau Cover

The Best Way to Clean a Tonneau Cover

The best way to clean and care for a tonneau cover is to wash it with the same soap you wash your car with and then use a protectant.

Driving around in your truck will naturally attract dust and dirt from the road. This can dampen the shine on your tonneau cover and damage it, making it brittle and frayed. Here’s how to take care of that muck and look after your cover. With just a little bit of effort, you won’t need to spend even more money on replacing.

Let’s look at how to clean the tonneau cover with ease.

Cleaning Preparation

For something so robust and meant to protect, you can expect to have to put a bit of elbow grease into cleaning your tonneau cover. For this reason, it’s in your best interest to inspect the tonneau for rips and tears, fraying or bulges, or even the slightest of scratches.

These abrasions are weak spots that may grow and damage the cover further when you’re rubbing and cleaning down.

After looking for damage to the cover itself, inspect that the latches, bolts, and clamps are secure and top shape.

To have these loose while cleaning the cover could lead to them suddenly detach and damage the parts themselves, the vehicle, or even those nearby if the tugging is forceful enough. The last thing you want while trying to protect is to cause further damage.

While checking that everything is secure, it may be worthwhile to ensure that the latches can also open in the first place. Wear and tear can lead to rusting, especially if you haven’t attended to the metal components in a while.

A few drops of lubricant to a latch that’s stuck will loosen it up and allow you to inspect for further damage.

Cleaning Process and Tips

Treat cleaning your tonneau cover like you would when washing your car: use a sponge, towel, or microfiber cloth with a standard vehicle washing solution and warm water.

It’s best to do this in a shaded area as the direct sun can have adverse effects on the cover while you’re giving it a deep scrub, and a bleached or brittle cover is not what we want.

Start with warm water and start loosening and wiping away the easy-to-wash dust and dirt from the surface of the tarp. Remember not to apply too much pressure; let the water and sponge/towel/cloth do the work.

Once you’ve taken off as much as you can with just the water, mix about half a cup of your cleaning product with some more water. You can start the deep clean now, getting into the nitty-gritty and getting rid of the more hardened, persistent dirt.

Again, don’t be too vigorous as this can cause more harm than good.

Once the cover is sufficiently coated in the solution and satisfied with the results, rinse the remaining cleaner off with clean water. You should now have a clean and shiny tonneau cover if all goes well.

For Soft Tonneau Covers

Softer tonneau covers require a more delicate touch to clean and protect. You’ll need a microfiber cloth, a brush such as a boar’s hairbrush, a wheel brush, some vinyl or similar coating, and a water hose. A fire hose nozzle is preferred for the pressure it provides.

Spraying the cover with this hose and clean water will do the same job as the cloth and water before removing the outer layer of dust and dirt. Once rinsed, you’ll want to liberally spray the vinyl on the surface, coating the entire cover.

Now you can start scrubbing with your brushes until you’ve covered the whole surface. Rinse with water, dry with the microfiber towel, and bring indoors to finish drying.

Once dry, you can finish off the process by applying a tonneau cover protectant, using the microfiber cloth to give a final wipe and leave it to soak. Your softcover should now be properly clean and ready for use after soaking and drying.

General and Periodical Maintenance Tips

While you may have a set schedule or time frame in which you can take the time to do a full clean, there are several things you can do to keep your cover pristine that don’t take much time or effort at all.

Regularly performing the inspections mentioned in the Cleaning Preparation section will allow you to keep track of severe damage. Being proactive about maintaining your tonneau cover means less work in the long run when it comes to maintenance.

If you want to prevent further harm, remember that the weight limit is something that should be avoided, not tested. Try and keep as far below as you can, as this increases your cover’s lifespan.

Storing the cover is just as crucial for its protection. Direct sunlight causes the material to harden and form a layer of dirt, ruining the strength of the cover.

Additionally, leaving it in the shade for too long makes it a potential victim to mildew and mold. Indoors in a dry area out of direct sunlight is ideal for storage.

Can You Use Armor All on Tonneau Covers

No, you can not use armor all on tonneau covers. It’s water-based and will cause your vinyl to go brittle and crack, and it won’t hold water back from seeping through and entering your truck bed. 

Instead use 303 protectant that you can get from your local hardware store.

Now that you’ve taken care of and safely stored your tonneau cover, you can start using it to its full potential. Keeping the cover in pristine condition is essential not only for ensuring it does its job, but it also saves you money on replacements. 

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