Convertible Roof Cleaning

How To Clean A Soft Top Or Convertible Roof - A Detailed Guide

Drivers of convertible cars in the UK may not get many top-down days, but when the sun does shine, they can fully enjoy those wind-in-the-hair moments. Modern technology allows soft tops to raise and lower quickly, but when in place, they are still exposed to the same weather conditions as hardtop cars.

That's why it's crucial for owners to give their convertible hoods, whether vinyl or fabric, as much attention as the rest of the car body. We spend considerable time detailing our cars, so why not extend that care to the fabric roof? Here are our tips for maintaining a fabric soft top to ensure its longevity:

How To Clean Dirt, Mould & Residue From Your Convertible Roof

Without proper attention, a fabric convertible roof can attract road dirt, mould, and mildew, especially during wet UK summers. Acidic substances like tree sap and bird droppings can also damage the fabric and need immediate removal.

Here's how to clean your soft top:

1. Wash the Car

Wash the vehicle as usual with a good car shampoo, using hot water on the soft top. Use a scrub brush to tackle ingrained pollutants. Rinse thoroughly, but avoid using power washers on the convertible roof. Allow the roof to dry completely.

2. Kill the Mould

A good method is to use Milton steriliser tablets dissolved in hot water to kill mould, or a solution of white vinegar. Note that this process will strip any previously applied water repellent, which will need reapplication (see section below). Alternatively, use a branded hood cleaner followed by a roof proofer to ensure the surface repels water.

Cleaning Green Algae & Moss Off A Cabriolet Roof

A neglected hood may develop green algae and moss. Follow this approach after washing the car:

1. Kill the Spores

Avoid using a pressure washer on a soft top as it can damage seams. Wash the car as normal. Regular cleaning products may not kill spores, so they will return quickly. Use a spray bottle with a water and white vinegar mix, and wipe vigorously with a clean microfiber cloth.

2. Use a Soft Top Cleaner

Apply a branded soft top cleaner liberally over the roof using an applicator block, working it into the fabric. Wait a few minutes and rinse off with plenty of water until it runs clear.

How To Recolour Your Convertible Roof Fabric

Over time, weather, sun, and neglect can cause the fabric of a convertible roof to become discoloured or faded. If the hood is otherwise in good condition, you can reapply colour to restore its look. Here are the steps:

1. Wash the Hood

Wash the hood and remove any contaminants like mould. Allow it to dry. Wear old or work clothes, and use protective gloves, eyewear, and a face mask.

2. Masking

Use newspaper or similar materials and masking tape to cover the car windows and rear plastic screen, ensuring the entire top is visible and accessible.

3. Apply Convertible Dye

Follow the directions on the dye package, using a small clean and soft paintbrush. Start painting in the middle of the top and move outward, applying in one direction only. Apply evenly. If necessary, apply a second and third coat after the previous coat has dried. Allow to dry fully before proceeding.

How To Weather Protect Your Soft Top Roof

After cleaning, it's essential to weatherproof the fabric so that water runs off the surface. Any previous deep cleaning process will have stripped away any remaining weather-proofing, and without this step, water could permeate through the material into the cabin, causing discomfort and potentially leading to mould.

1. Select the Right Product

It is generally better to paint on the weather proofer. While sprays are available, several coats are recommended. Choose a quality product that offers UV light and mould protection. You can find suitable products at local motor factors or online.

2. Application

Apply the proofer with a clean brush, working it into the fabric, especially around the seams and window overlaps. Allow to dry fully before applying additional coats. The process is complete when the fabric no longer absorbs the proofer or when water beads off the surface during rain.

Preventing Convertible Roof Leaks

Age or neglect are the main reasons for water ingress through a soft-top roof. Signs include damp seats, mould, an unpleasant smell, and condensation on the inside of windows. Proper maintenance as described above will help prevent leaks, but if they persist, urgent attention is required.

Finding Leaks on a Soft Top Car

Check for damaged or distorted door seals, accumulated debris behind the seals, and blocked rain channels around the car, including the boot surround. Wet carpets are a telltale sign. The hood may be damaged, torn, or lack weather-proofing, allowing water to seep in.

Fixing a Leak on a Soft Top Car

Clean rain gutters and door shuts, and inspect the rubber seals. Regularly clean and lubricate rubber door seals with petroleum jelly to keep them supple and resistant to water ingress. If the roof is the issue, consider the following:

Renovate or Renew a Car Soft Top

If water ingress problems persist despite refurbishment efforts, a thorough inspection is advised. Check if the hood mechanism works properly and if the hood fits correctly. Professional repair can fix tears, but at some point, a new hood may be necessary. While not cheap, a new hood improves the car's appearance and resale value. Despite the UK's unpredictable weather, a well-maintained convertible can offer great enjoyment when the sun shines.

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