How to clean a convertible car roof | Cleaning cabriolet roof fabrics
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How to Clean a Soft Top Car Roof

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how to clean a soft top car roof

Top tips for restoring your soft-top roof

At Cayman Autos, convertible roof repair specialists, we are frequently faced with cabriolet owners asking for advice for their fabric soft-tops and how to clean these convertible roof systems.

This blog will give advice for the removal of dirt build-up on your convertible fabric and how to restore weather protection to your soft-top.

Often soft-top fabric replacement is considered the most beneficial way of treating your cherished cabriolet, however this can be costly; with a limited budget and some extra time to devote to your cabriolet roof, you can transform your faded or algae forming cabriolet fabric.

With proper maintenance and cleaning, great results can be achieved at a fraction of the cost of a new cabriolet fabric, giving new life to the existing soft top hood.

Ask yourself these questions;

  1. Are mould spots and algae growing on the outside fabric of your cabriolet roof?
  2. Is the fabric looking faded but otherwise in good condition?
  3. Is rain leaking through your convertible hood?

If the answer is YES, consider spending a dry weekend afternoon treating your convertible roof rather than sitting on the sofa and surfing the TV channels!

How to clean dirt, mould, mildew and tree sap from your cabriolet fabric

The best way to clean and protect your soft-top fabric is to start with a good clean of the fabric. It is important to clean dirt, mould, mildew and tree sap from the roof system, along with previously applied water proofing agents.

Removing these deteriorants to the fabric is of utmost importance to get to the base fabric as they hinder the appearance and damage the water repellency.

Use a fabric soft-top cleaner – we recommend Renovo. Start by brushing dirt from the fabric with a soft brush and apply the soft-top cleaner following the bottle’s instructions.

clean dirt mould and mildew on soft top roof

Mist spray the soft-top fabric and then paint on the solution, allowing approximately an hour for the active ingredients to work, penetrating the dirt and loosening the grime.

Using hand hot water, the surface should be scrubbed with a bristle brush, being careful around the stitched area and windows. It is essential to use hand hot water.

All mould and algae should be removed from the cabriolet fabric to ensure any further steps do not lock the dirt particles in.

Finish off by rinsing with water and repeat the whole process as necessary to ensure your convertible fabric is clean and stripped bare.

Consider the process like decorating a room in your house; clean walls are essential and meticulous preparatory work lead to a clean and smooth finish. Imperfections are harder to remove and rectify after the following steps.

  • Ensure that your soft-top is adequately prepared by your cleaning process – the soft-top fabric needs to be as clean as possible.
  • It is easier to leave the fabric to dry in-between each clean as wet fabric can disguise missed dirt spots.
  • Leave the fabric to dry thoroughly before the next step as you do not want to lock water particles trapped in the roof’s fabric before applying any sealant.

How to recolour your soft-top fabric

Once the cabriolet roof is as clean and dry as possible you can begin to restore its original colour.

You may not need to add colour and skip this to reproofing.

Apply you colour restorer with a new/clean 5cm brush, applying with even strokes. Start in the middle, work to each side and the front to back of the soft-top fabric as quickly as possible to avoid wet join lines.

You may require 2 coats for a greater depth of colour – once the colour has been applied proceed to Step 3.

How to weather protect your soft-top

Your fabric on your cabriolet roof is starting to take shape, however remember the fabric is stripped bare and will not resist water permeating through the fabric into your cabin area.

Using Renovo Ultra proofer is the final stage of your process. It is neutral in colour so suitable for all shades of soft-top.

Most reproofers now have the added benefits of UV Protection and mould and mildew inhibitor to ensure convertible fabrics are protected and look better for longer.

renovo ultra proofer

The reproofer should be applied with a new/clean 5cm paintbrush as per the instructions on the bottle.

Do not be tempted with trying a shortcut and spraying on the solution as it never works very well and leaves a less desirable result.

Brush application works into the fibres of the fabric on the soft-top, whereas a spray is more likely to drift from the convertible fabric or simply sit on the surface and not be absorbed properly.

Do not cut corners – you have come this far and the clean soft-top car roof end is in sight.

The amount of reproofing depends upon the fabric. Let each coat of reproof dry – you will know when you have applied sufficient to your soft-top fabric when the fabric refuses to absorb anymore solution. This simply means that the water repellency is good. You will see liquid sitting on the top, running down the windows, or only being absorbed into the areas that need it.

Frequently asked questions;

How do I restore colour to my faded soft-top fabric?

The first step is to clean your soft-top car roof as per the above instructions;

  1. Clean your convertible roof fabric
  2. Re-colour your convertible roof fabric
  3. Reproof your convertible roof fabric

Water is coming into my cabin area through my soft-top fabric – how do I prevent this?

When a cabriolet fabric deteriorates it can lose its water repellency allowing water to permeate through the fabric fibres into the cabin area of the vehicle.

It is advisable to check there isn’t any physical damage to your soft-top first as reproofing will not fix these issues.

If there are rips, tears, unbonding of seals or rear windows, or the drainage channels become blocked, reproofing your fabric will not address these issues.

Please see our blog: How to stop convertible water leaks

When you are satisfied there is not any physical damage to roof then then the above steps should be followed to clean and reproof your fabric hood.

Rain water is not beading on my cabriolet roof fabric

When a soft-top is weather proofed rain water or washed cars will repel water and the water will initially bead.

If your fabric does not bead at the initial rainfall, this maybe a time to consider cleaning and treating your fabric roof system.

However if you have applied the weather proofer, do not be alarmed if water does not continue to bead – after sustained rainfall or soaking, it is completely normal for the Top to look drenched and not bead with the weather proofer applied, the water will not pass through the soft-top compared to an untreated one. The fabric on your soft-top is able to dry more quickly to help reduce the damp growing conditions that are required to encourage growth of mould and mildew.

It is advisable to reproof the soft-top every 6 months, although this will vary according to storage/use/washing of each individual vehicle.

It is important to care and maintain your convertible roof system, along with the fabric that covers the roof mechanism.

Your convertible roof is the envy of friends and family on a sunny day with the roof top down, however can this be said with the roof up when the weather does not permit top-down rides?

Give your much loved convertible a treat and restore that dull, faded and dirty fabric with the above easy steps.

Contact Cayman Autos for expert soft-top roof restoration

If you do not have the time or inclination to carry out these steps to clean your soft top car roof, let Cayman Autos carry out this labour intensive task for you. See our convertible soft top cleaning service for more information.

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