How To Clean a Car Convertible Top

Not all car surfaces are made the same. If you have a regular car, then chances are, regular cleaning with car shampoo will usually work well in cleaning all surfaces. However, if you have a convertible, then you will need to give your car’s top special attention when cleaning. If you’re fortunate enough to have a hardtop convertible with a painted surface, then you can clean your top as you would the body. If your car’s top is made of canvas or textured fiberglass, though, then follow these tips for a clean convertible top.

  • Find shade and wash your car. It’s best to wash your car early in the morning or late in the afternoon, away from harsh sunlight. Extreme heat can dry car shampoo prematurely, causing swirls and watermarks. Be sure to roll up all windows completely. Rinse your car thoroughly. Give special attention to the canvas or fiberglass top. Use a pressurized hose head to wash away tough dirt and debris.
  • Use car shampoo. Prepare a mixture of car shampoo and water. For textured tops, use more shampoo than usual. For example, if your shampoo’s instructions say two caps per gallon of water, add another cap of shampoo. Textured surfaces can be more challenging to clean than smooth, painted surfaces. Use a soft-bristled brush to lather your convertible top with the car shampoo. Give extra attention to spots that have embedded dirt, like bird droppings, tree sap and even road tar. It’s usually best to run the brush toward one direction only, such as from the front to the rear of the car.
  • Clean the windshield with glass cleaner. Use a soft microfiber cloth and glass cleaner to thoroughly clean the inside and outside of the rear windshield. If it’s made of plastic, be sure to use product that can be used for such surfaces. You wouldn’t want to fog up your rear windshield when it rains. Use a chamois cloth to dry the roof surface. Use asoft, lint-free cloth to wipe the rear windshield dry.
  • Check the rubber seals. Retract the roof partially so you can check the edges. Use a bit of soapy water and your brush to clean these surfaces. Inspect the rubber seals for any cracks or deformities. If there are cracks, you can use rubber or silicone sealants to help prevent any further damage. Otherwise, you might have to bring your car to a body shop to have the rubber sealants replaced. Be sure to dry the rubber thoroughly with your lint-free cloth before closing the top.
  • Use fabric treatment. If you have a canvas top, you can also use fabric treatment, such as Armour All, to help protect against the elements and other debris like bird droppings and tree sap. Do this after the roof has dried.

As with any chemical, be sure to check the label of your car cleaning products if they are designed for use on the intended surface. Some products might cause staining on canvas-based tops. Some might not be suitable for rubber sealants, as these might crack. When cleaning your convertible top, it’s usually best to clean the entire thing rather than spot-clean, for a consistent and even appearance.


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