How often should I wash my vehicle wrap is a great question. The answer depends on the amount of exposure your vehicle has to dirt, grime, and chemicals. If it’s driven daily in metropolitan areas, washing your vehicle wrap once a week would probably suffice. But, if your wrap is exposed to harsh pollutants, used at a worksite with a high level of dirt and debris, or covered with organics such as insect parts and bird droppings, then a daily bath may be needed.

How to Clean Your Wrap

The simplest way to clean your wrap is with a mild detergent and a soft rag. Avoid anything abrasive such as cleaning compounds with harsh chemicals and abrasive sponges or rags.

Graphics manufacturer, 3M, recommends softening difficult contaminants such as bug splatter, bird droppings, tree sap, and similar contaminants by soaking them for several minutes with hot, soapy water. Then, rinse thoroughly and dry.

For tougher stains, 3M recommends the following procedures and products:

  • Test one of the products below in an inconspicuous area to ensure no damage to the graphics.
  • Spot clean the contaminants.
  • Do not use rough scrubbing or abrasive tools, which will scratch the film.
  • Wash and rinse off all residue immediately.

Recommended products:

  1. Meguiar’s Bug & Tar Remover, 3M™ Citrus Base Cleaner
  2. Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) (two parts IPA to 1-part water)
  3. Denatured alcohol

For more information, refer to 3M’s complete bulletin,  3M Caring for your Vehicle Graphics.

Hand Washing Your Vehicle Wrap is the Safest Method

We recommend hand washing over automated car washes and pressure washing. Automatic car washes that use brushes can damage your wrap. Brushes can scratch the surface and lift the adhesive vinyl at seams and edges. If you can’t hand wash, then brushless car washes are the next best solution.

If you decide to power wash, you must keep pressure below 2000 PSI and the water temperature below 180°F. Keep the nozzle at least 12” away from the vehicle and spray at a 90-degree angle from the graphic so you don’t chance lifting the vinyl at the edges and seams.

Pro Tip: Hand wash fuel spills immediately. When left to fester, fuel spills can cause the vinyl to fade and discolor. Use a paper towel while you’re at the gas station and then hand wash the area with soap and water when you’re done for the day.

Avoid the following cleaners on your vehicle wrap:

  • Solvents
  • Degreasers
  • Household cleaners such as silica-based powdered cleaners and oven cleaners
  • Avoid bleach and ammonia
  • Oil-based cleansers

If you’re uncertain about a cleaner, it’s a good idea to test it on an inconspicuous small area before applying it to the entire wrap.

Can I Wax my Vehicle Wrap?

Adding a protective wax finish to paint may protect it from exposure, but it doesn’t do a lot for vinyl — it may even damage it. 3M does not recommend using wax or other similar coatings on vehicle graphics.

If your vehicle is a partial wrap or has decals, and you want to wax the exposed painted surfaces, just be careful to keep the wax away from the graphics and remove any build up from the edges.

Besides branding and advertising, two more reasons to wrap a vehicle are to protect the surface, and to make it look its best. Both of these are accomplished without wax, so relax and enjoy your ride. Save the wax-on, wax-off routine for others.

So, How Often Should I Wash My Vehicle Wrap?

How often should I wash my vehicle wrap is an excellent question and the best answer is to wash your vehicle when it’s dirty or exposed to harsh and harmful substances. It could be daily, weekly, or even less often.

If we can answer any questions, don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

TKO Graphix is a national fleet and vehicle graphics company helping customers since 1985. We provide full-service graphics solutions such as design, digital printing, screen printing, installation and removal of fleet graphics, vehicle graphics, and commercial graphics.

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