How to Clean a Convertible Top

by Paul Miceli

Convertible tops made of fabric or vinyl combine great engineering with visual elegance, but daily vehicle use leaves them dirty and soiled. Regular cleaning preserves the appearance of convertible tops, but using the wrong protection on the wrong materials leaves unsightly smears. Rubbing a small amount of water into the convertible top identifies fabric or vinyl roofs easily. Fabric absorbs water but vinyl repels it.

Cleaning Convertible Tops


Park the car in a shaded area. Wash the convertible top with water to remove loose dirt and grit, but don't use soap or detergents. Spray convertible top cleaner over the top and leave to soak for five minutes.


Scrub the entire convertible top lightly using a soft, clean brush. Identify heavily soiled areas and apply more cleaner as required. Leave the most stubborn areas to soak for fifteen to twenty minutes before scrubbing lightly again with the brush.


Rinse the roof clean with water. Leave the convertible roof to dry before applying protective spray.

Adding Protection to Fabric Tops


Make sure the convertible top is completely dry. Shake the can of protective fabric spray thoroughly before use. Apply an even coat over the entire convertible top with a light sweeping motion. Leave the first coat to cure for ten minutes.


Find an inconspicuous area of fabric and touch it with your fingertip to check dryness of the first coat. Add an additional three coats, allowing a 10-minute curing time between each one.


Wipe away excess protective fabric spray from surrounding paintwork, trim and glass with a clean cloth. Add protective spray every six weeks to protect the fabric from adverse weather conditions and UV light.

Adding Protection to Vinyl Tops


Shake the bottle of protective vinyl spray vigorously and apply a full coat onto the convertible top. Use a clean microfiber cloth to work the fluid into the vinyl, pressing down firmly to make sure textured areas are penetrated.


Leave the first application to cure for 10 minutes. Repeat the process a second time to achieve a deeper layer of protection. Wipe away excess protective vinyl spray from surrounding areas and trim using a clean, dry cloth.


Clean the top and add an additional layer of protective spray every 5 weeks for optimal protection from the elements.


  • close Always check with your automotive supplier to ensure protective spray is suitable for your roof type.
  • close Wash convertible tops in the shade. Never wash them in direct sunlight.
  • close Wash convertible tops in one operation. Never wash them in stages to avoid unsightly rings and spots.
  • close Avoid using detergents designed for washing body panels to prevent the risk of unwelcome stains.

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About the Author

Based in the United Kingdom, Paul Miceli has been a professional writer since 2006. He has been published online by Ideate Media and Promiga and has a proven track record of producing informational articles and sales copy. Miceli is educated to U.K. "A-level" standard, continues to work as a paint sprayer and has more than 25 years of automotive body repair experience.

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