Vehicle Graphics: How to Maintain Your Car Wraps

by Ross Cartwright

A vehicle wrap looks better and lasts longer when maintained properly. Think about caring for your vehicle graphics the way you would any fine paint finish. Dirt and pollutants from the environment can cause wraps to wear much faster. Over time, the wrap can begin to lift as dirt penetrates the edges of the vinyl. Protect your investment with a few basic best practices: 

Hand Wash Regularly

Hand washing is the preferred method to keep a vinyl vehicle wrap clean. First, rinse the vehicle with clean water, which helps avoid scratching the graphics. Then, use a soft sponge or cloth to gently wash the vehicle from the top down. Use a mild soapy detergent and water solution—most car wash detergents are fine. Hand washing is easier on the surface of the vehicle wrap compared to driving through an automated car wash. Never use a pressure washer on a vehicle wrap as it will lift the edges of the film.

Avoid Auto Washes

If hand washing is not an option, touchless washes are better than automatic car washes. Brush washes may cause scratching and other damages to the vehicle graphics. If the vehicle is not saturated in dirt, waterless washing is also an option. Simply wipe down the vehicle with Isopropyl alcohol or green cleaner diluted with water.

Avoid Wax

Waxing a car wrap can leave smear marks on the surface of the wrap. If the wrap is a matte finish, any type of wax will cause glossy patches in the vinyl.

Difficult Contaminants

Soften difficult contaminants such as bug splatter, bird droppings and tree sap by soaking them for several minutes with hot soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth. If further cleaning is needed, test the selected cleaner in an inconspicuous area to ensure it does not damage the graphic.

Vehicle wrap maintenance