How to Remove Mildew From a Convertible Topby Melynda Sorrels
We humans like to think of ourselves as sovereign organisms, but our own bodies contain an entire ecosystem of microbes. In fact, there are probably more microrganisms in and on your right hand than there are people in the world. And we have an immune system. Your car, exposed to the dirty, living world as it is, has only you to depend on. Car interiors and vinyl tops are veritable Petri dishes when it comes to providing habitats for mold and mildew spores, but it doesn't take much for you to play your ride's immune system for a day.
Spray your top down with a water hose and allow it to dry. Once it's dry, rub it with vinyl top conditioner. The cleaning process can damage old, dried-out vinyl; applying some conditioner first per the package directions can give it a better chance of surviving cleaning without damage.
Dampen your "erasing" cleaning pad -- generally used to clean bathrooms and kitchens -- and use it to wipe away any mold or mildew. Mix bleach and water in equal parts and pour it on the mildewed area. Allow it to sit for 30 seconds before rinsing it off very thoroughly with clear water. Dry the area with a soft, clean, dry towel.
Mix two parts water to one part ammonia and pour it onto the mildewed area. Allow it to soak for 30 seconds and scrub the area with a soft clean cloth. Rinse the area with clear water and dry with a soft, clean, dry towel.
Sprinkle baking soda all over the mildew and pour vinegar over it liberally. Allow this to soak for 4 hours. Scrub the area with a soft, clean, damp cloth and rinse well. Dry the area with a soft, clean, dry towel.
Use all-purpose commercial cleaner to saturate the area and allow it to soak for 10 minutes. The surfactants in it may be enough to break the fungi's grip without using harsher chemicals. Wipe the area with a soft, clean cloth.
Rinse the top and wash it thoroughly with car shampoo. apply a fresh and final coat of protectant conditioner to preserve the vinyl, help to ward off fungi formation in the future, and make it easier to remove if and when it does form.
- Keep the cleaning chemicals off of the rest of your car as much as possible, especially your tires. Bleach in particular has a habit of softening rubber; fine if you're softening your drag slicks' tread for a harder launch, but not so great if it gets on your sidewalls.
- Do not mix bleach and ammonia, or bleach and vinegar -- the resultant hydrogen sulfide gas will really, really kill you.
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