Convertible tops look great when a car is new, but they won’t stay looking nice for long without proper care. Fabric, clear plastic and vinyl are far more delicate and vulnerable to radiation, acid rain, and the elements than painted surfaces. Sunshine can be especially damaging. Here are some tips from eHow to keep your convertible top looking like new.

Things you will need:

  • High quality convertible top cleaner
  • Soft sponge or brush
  • Vinyl window cleaner
  • Hose

Convertible tops should be cleaned at least twice a year, but more frequently if the car is parked outside a lot. Make sure to use only high quality convertible top cleaners and if possible, use a cleaner that’s biodegradable. Do not use detergents or powders that contain chlorine-based bleaching agents. These can remove essential oils in vinyl tops that are needed for protection against the sun’s UV rays.

Tip – If at all possible, park your convertible in a garage or carport. If you can’t, then use a high quality, breatheable car cover.

Wash the top in the shade and not in direct sunlight and make sure the top is cool before wetting. After wetting the top thoroughly, spray a light coating of top cleaner evenly across the top and gently work the cleaner using a soft sponge or brush to scrub away dirt. Once cleaned, rinse off the cleaner while brushing and using lots of water from a nozzle-less hose. Continue until the water runs clear.

Do not use ordinary glass cleaners if the window is plastic; these may damage the plastic. Use cleaners and polishes specifically designed for plastic windows. These products will remove minor scratches as well as dirt and help prevent the plastic from discoloring.

Tip – To prevent creasing and scratching plastic windows, place a soft towel or baby blanket over the plastic rear window before folding down the top.

You don’t need to use a top cleaner every time you wash the car. You can usually keep a top clean by washing with plain water. If it’s dirty, use a gentle, pH neutral car wash and make sure to rinse thoroughly. After washing, let the top dry completely before folding it down, since this will prevent mold and mildew.

Tip – Use a sticky clothing lint roller to remove dust and lint from the top and clean the plastic window without scratching.

After cleaning, use a top protectant to preserve the color and texture of the top material. This will also prevent fading and cracking, and help repel dirt, grease and oil.

Remove bird droppings immediately. They are very acidic and can quickly damage tops.

Don’t let snow accumulate on your top. A soft top can handle moderate amounts of snow, but heavy or wet snow can overload the top structure and cause the metal frame to bend. Be careful when removing snow and ice from the plastic rear window so you avoid scratching it.