The vinyl itself is not a very durable material, it generally can hold up for three years depending on how the vehicle is maintained. UV exposure, acid rain, bird droppings, bug splatters, typical contaminants, and road grime can age the vinyl wrap sooner than you’d think. Plus, excessive exposure to rain or water (even simple car washes) can penetrate the vinyl film top layer, and cause damage to the adhesive.
Vinyl wraps should not be cleaned or washed within the first 48 hours after application. After this initial period, it is recommended to clean the wrap at least once a month, or more frequently depending on the end-use conditions or user preference. If left in constant contact with dirt, grime, and contaminants, will eventually degrade, especially if left uncleaned and exposed to UV light and heat. Always park the vehicle in the shade or under cover whenever possible.
Spot cleaning of surface contaminants like bugs, bird droppings, tree sap, and tar is required immediately, as it can stain and damage the vinyl.
Important Note: Hand washing with a dedicated car wash is the preferred cleaning method.
• It’s important that the detergent is specifically designed to be used for vehicles;
• Free from abrasive components;
• Does not contain any additional waxes or polishes;
• Ideally PH Balanced, thus not highly acidic or alkaline (pH level between 5 and 9);
• Free from damaging chemicals like Alcohol, Acids, Ammonia, Chlorine, Glycol Ethers, Harmful Detergents, Petroleum Distillates and Phosphates
• Do not use common home dishwashing detergents, or any soaps not designed for vehicle washing.
How to Wash a Vehicle with a Vinyl Wrap:
The preferred washing method is by hand using the following technique
• Start by rinsing the vehicle with clean water, removing any loose dirt or contaminants, thus avoiding scratching the warp
• Using the ‘two buckets’ method (one bucket filled with car wash and water solution and a second filled with clean water for rinsing), gently wipe the surface from front to back using a synthetic or natural sponge or mitt, starting from the top of the vehicle and working down.
• Always rinse the sponge in clean water before soaking it in the soapy water in between sections.
• When finished, it’s important to rinse the wrap thoroughly with clean water.
• Allow the water to dry naturally or dab dry with a Chamois or soft non-abrasive towel, being careful not to lift film edges
It is not recommended to use automatic brush car washes, as the brush will often catch the edges of the wrap. It can also reduce the gloss finish of the wrap and cause scratching to the surface. If an automatic car wash is to be used, then a brushless system is strongly recommended.
Pressure Washing a Vinyl Wrap?
High-pressure cleaning equipment or power cleaning may be used, provided a maximum pressure of 1200 psi (80 bars or 84 kg/cm²), and a wide-angle ( up to 90° spray head nozzle) is used. That’s because excessive water pressure and intense water spray can cause damage by forcing water underneath the wrap or putting a hole in the material. In order to reduce the risk of edge lift, a minimum distance of 30cm should be maintained from the nozzle to the film surface. Additionally, the dispenser nozzle should always be perpendicular (90°+/-10°) to the film surface.
If the cleaning system is heated, a water temperature of 158 degrees Fahrenheit should not be exceeded.
Waxing and Polishing:
One of the biggest mistakes when caring for a vinyl wrap is attempting to use wax or polishing products on it. If you attempt to polish, buff, or wax your vinyl wrap, you will cause it to age faster and scratch it. Any conventional car wax or polish is made to be applied to metal. They do make special waxes and sealants specifically for vinyl wraps, so make sure you are using the proper products to care for your wrap.
Another thing to keep in mind is that polishing your vinyl wrap is not a one-time job. In order to keep your wrap looking its best, you’ll need to polish it regularly. This can be time-consuming, and it can also be expensive if you need to purchase new polishes and tools regularly.
In general, it’s a good idea to polish your vinyl wrap at least once a month. However, if you live in a dusty area or if you drive your car frequently, you may need to polish it more often.