How do I take care of a vehicle wrap? According to Avery Dennison, a company that makes wrap vinyl, to care for a vehicle wrap you can’t just run it through the car wash. Regular cleaning of the wrap is required to maintain the overall appearance of the wrap as well as help prolong the life of the wrap. Vinyl films used in vehicle wraps behave similarly to automotive paint if left in contact with dirt, grime and contaminants. They will eventually degrade, especially if left un-clean, exposed to UV light and/or heat. Dirt and grime work their way under the edges of the wrap and cause lifting. These vehicle wrap care instructions will help you clean and maintain the premium look and extend the life of your vehicle wrap. There is a Frequently Asked Questions section at the end.
Waterless Washing is the preferred method of cleaning a wrapped vehicle if it is not overly dirty. This method is great if you don’t have access to a hose. Hand wash extremely dirty vehicles first and follow up with a waterless wash. Waterless wash products design for wrap care help maintain the gloss and performance of the wrap vinyl. Before using any new product on your wrap, be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area first.
Hand washing your vehicle wrap is the most common, safest and economical method of caring for a wrap. If you have a partial wrap we suggest you hand wash the entire vehicle, not just the graphics. Follow these steps:
- Pre Rinse: Use a hose and rinse the entire wrap with clean water. This helps remove loose dirt particles and helps avoid scratching the graphics.
- Wash: Gently wash the graphic with a mild soapy water solution using a soft cloth or sponge (natural or synthetic). Start from the top of the vehicle and work down. Avoid hard scrubbing which can scratch the surface.
- Rinse: Rinse thoroughly with clean water
- Dry: Let the wrap dry naturally. To avoid water spots, use a silicon squeegee to remove water then finish drying with a microfiber or soft, non-abrasive towel
NOTE: Excessive spraying at the wrong angle may create failure points and result in the wrap lifting at the edges
Automatic Car Wash
The Mighty Sign Makers understand that it is easiest to run the vehicle through a car wash. This is not recommended. If this is your only choice please use a brush-less car wash that uses spray only. Do not use the wax option. This wax may contain petroleum distillates which may harm the warp. Brushes, especially the nylon bristle brushes, may scratch the vehicle wrap or catch the edge of the vinyl and create a failure point. Once the film starts to lift it is nearly impossible to put it back down.
A pressure or power washer should only be used on a vehicle wrap when all other cleaning methods have been used (or tested) and did not work properly. This is because pressure washing could have negative effects on the vehicle wrap, including edge-lifting and face degradation.
- Use water pressure below 1200 psi
- Make sure water temperature below 180° F (80° C)
- The nozzle needs to stay at least 12 inches from edges
- Keep the spray perpendicular to the graphic.
- Use a nozzle with a 40° angle spray pattern.
Care For A Vehicle Wrap FAQ
How often should I wash my wrap?
We recommend every 2 weeks or whenever it appears dirty.
What detergent should I use for a hand wash?
Use a mild car soap and water mix. Avoid detergents that contain strong soluble substances, alcohol or abrasive components. The detergent should have a pH balance between 5 and 9. (Geek note: drinking water is between 6 and 8.5 and 7 is neutral)
Can I wax my vehicle?
Yes. However, make sure the wax does not contain petroleum distillates. Many paste waxes have petroleum distillates. Products that are a combination of waterless wash and wax are great options if the vehicle isn’t too dirty. If you used an automatic car wash do not select any wax option.
How about difficult spots?
Contaminates such as bird droppings, tree sap, bug splatters will damage the vinyl film and need to be removed as soon as possible. If a stronger chemical is needed, test it in an inconspicuous spot first.
Matte Wrap Car?
A waterless wash is highly recommended for matte finish vehicle wraps. Do not use any product containing wax! Wax fills in the texture that makes the finish matte and will cause shiny spots. Do not run vehicle wrapped in matte vinyl through a car wash! The sprays, even in the most basic options, may contain wax other components that will create shiny spots. Again, a waterless wash is recommended. If you do hand wash a matte wrap use very little soap in the water. Spot clean with a 50/50 mix of isopropyl alcohol and water.
What about Chrome and shiny metallic wraps?
Chrome wraps are very delicate and easily damaged. These take very specific care measures – Follow the instructions provided by the installer.
Care for a vehicle wrap
This information is provided courtesy of Avery Dennison, a provider of high-quality vehicle wrap vinyl. For more complete information on vehicle wrap care and maintenance please refer to Avery Dennison Instructional Bulletin 1.50. Avery Dennison makes a line of washless products designed specifically for vehicle wrap care and maintenance. NOTE: The recommendations, instructions, and cleaners act as a source of information and are given without a guarantee and do not constitute a warranty. Purchasers should independently test cleaning agents and methods, prior to use, to determine their suitability. For additional questions call the Avery Dennison AnswerLine at 800-282-8379.