The truck bed tonneau cover is a great way to protect your cargo from the elements and thieves. And cleaning a truck bed tonneau cover isn’t hard, but it does require some preparation and patience. In this article, we’ll walk through how to clean and protect your tonneau cover so that you can have peace of mind on your next adventure.
What Your Tonneau Says About Your Truck!
A lot of people don’t realize just how much the style and condition of a truck bed cover can say about their vehicle. Tonneau covers are designed as functional, protective storage devices for your payloads while you’re driving on long trips or to keep items safe from prying eyes when you park in public spaces. But with so many options out there – wood, aluminum, vinyl-covered steel – it’s hard to know which one is best suited for your needs. That’s why we’ve compiled this guide full of info that will help you clean and protect your tonneau cover!
What to Use as the Cleaner for tonneau cover
Using the recommended cleaner will help to clean and protect your tonneau cover. There are many cleaning options for a truck bed tonneau cover, but I recommend using an all-purpose cleaner designed specifically for automotive surfaces. You may use car wash soap, 303 Aerospace, Adam’s VRT, 3M Vinyl Cleaner, CarPro Perle once or twice a month to keep the tonneau cover supple and protected from elements and UV rays.
This type of product doesn’t contain harsh chemicals. It water-based, no solvents or alcohol, and is therefore great if you have a sensitive surface or want to preserve the vinyl layer of your cover. However, if you live in a desert area where there’s less rainfall then consider opting for one that contains harsher ingredients as they’re better at removing dirt and grime from tough stains on vinyl covers.
This article has covered some general guidelines about how to maintain your truck bed tonneau cover so let’s move onto something a little more practical.
Preparation Before Start
It is important to wash the truck bed. Thorough washing will also remove loose dirt and debris from the surface of the truck bed, which can scratch your tonneau cover when it rubs against it while driving.
First, clean up all spilled liquids from any hard surfaces with household ammonia or another type of cleaning product that contains a high percentage of water – like dish soap. This step is crucial as spillage left on metal may eat away at its protective coating over time if not properly cleaned. Next, use an automotive-grade cleaner (or other gentle) for removing tough stains in areas where spills have occurred before they dry out completely – such as roof tar and oil leaks on top of cab area floors, mud tracked into door jambs.
How to Clean Tonneau Cover
The first step in maintenance is to clean the surface of your truck bed tonneau cover, which will remove dirt and grime that accumulates over time. This should be done on a regular basis – every three months or so depending on how often you use it as well as where you live (as mentioned above).
Step 1. A deep clean
Save time with a pressure washer! But if you are using a pressure washer make sure to stay about 12 inches away from the tonneau cover when spraying it down because pressure washers can damage the material. Hose down the truck bed cover, then use the high-pressure water hose for deep cleaning.
Spray down tonneau cover with a product that is specifically designed to clean automotive vinyl surfaces or use a dish soap and water solution. Use a hose to lightly spray cleaner evenly on all surfaces including sides of the tailgate and cab area.
If it is windy outside be sure not to point the nozzle directly at the sun as this can cause overspray onto paint job and windows which would require more work if they were scratched.
Use soft cloths (old t-shirts work great) to scrub away any dirt, grime, or bugs on truck bed tonneau cover surface.”
If you are in need of an extra cleaning boost, mix your liquid cleaner with baking soda at a ratio of ¼ cup per gallon of water.
Wipe it periodically using dry microfiber towels which will remove fingerprints from the surface gently but thoroughly.
Be sure not to use any cleaners that contain solvents such as alcohol, which can damage automotive surfaces.
Keep your tires clean too!
Step 2. Drying time
A freshly-cleaned truck bed tonneau cover will need to dry for about a day before you can use it again.
To help protect your clean and shiny new surface, spray the truck bed with water mist or rain sealant.
It is equally important to keep the inside of the cab protected! Keep one towel on hand specifically for this purpose.
Step 3. Applying the protection
Protectant completely blocks the intrusion of UV rays and protects tonneau cover from airborne pollutants, acid rain, and other contaminants. It is easy to apply.
Apply vinyl protectant onto truck bed tonneau cover with a soft cloth or sponge using even, gentle strokes in one direction (keep it away from edges) until done.”*Tip: apply more than you need and let dry before applying second coat”. And for maximum protection, you may to reapply it every 3-5 weeks.
How to Maintain It Well
Maintaining your tonneau cover is an important part of ensuring it lasts for years to come. The most common reason that truck bed tonneau covers break down or stop functioning as well as they should over time is that the owner failed to maintain them properly. To help you avoid this, we’ve put together a list of simple cleaning and maintenance routines below.
Tip #1. Regular Inspections
Regular inspections are the best way to maintain your truck bed cover and ensure that it lasts you for as longs as possible. Inspections will allow you to see if anything is amiss, like a leak or damaged sealant before any damage has been done which could lead to costly repairs later on. It’s also important because tonneau covers have moving parts – hinges, latches, rollers, locks, etc., all of which need maintenance over time in order to function properly.
The first tip when inspecting your truck bed cover is to check the seals around its perimeter (the place where the lid meets the bed). Look for any gaps or rips where water can seep in and potentially damage your cover.
If you see any sealant that has dried, cracked, or hardened – it’s time to replace it with fresh sealant. The old stuff will dry out over time and lose its effectiveness at sealing off moisture from entering through those cracks.
Another way to inspect seals is by using a soapy solution on them which should highlight any evidence of leaks: bubbles indicate a leak while no bubbles mean all clear!
The third type of inspection involves checking for loose hardware such as hinges, latches, rollers, etc., anything that could be causing problems like squeaky noises when opening/closing or locks not engaging
Tip #2. Clean Properly and Regularly
Invest in a high-quality cleaner with excellent reviews from other owners so you know it will handle all kinds of messes on vinyl, cloth, plastic – even rubberized surfaces (check out Armor All’s Vinyl Protectant). Apply liberally using a damp towel and then wipe clean with another wet cotton rag until no streaks remain.
Clean your truck bed tonneau cover routinely to keep it looking good for years. The optimal time is after use every two weeks.
Tip #3. Use Protectant for Your Tonneau Cover
Protecting the surface of your tonneau cover is an important part of keeping it looking new, and protecting against scratches. There are a lot of different brands that offer this type of protection product specifically for truck bed covers. But you can use any quality protectant with UV inhibitors as well to keep things protected from wear and tear. When using any type of protective coatings, be sure not to get too close to the edges because these areas will lift off over time due to heavy contact with objects such as gas pumps or other vehicles when you’re driving through crowded parking lots. You may also want to avoid spraying on surfaces like chrome trim pieces at all if possible. So they don’t get coated with the product and end up looking cloudy.
Tip #4. No Heavy Objects on the Tonneau Cover
Heavy or sharp objects should not be placed on the tonneau cover. This can damage the vinyl, cloth, plastic, and even rubberized surfaces.
Tip #5. Lubricate the Moving Parts ( hinges, rod ends, and lock mechanisms)
Lubricate the moving parts with silicone grease or WD40 to prevent rusting. Use a soft cloth for best results because it will not scratch up your tonneau cover surface.
The hinge is where most people make mistakes by lubricating too much which causes dirt particles to stick on hinges causing more damage than good. Only put enough amount of oil that you can see liquid seeping out from openings in the hinge before compressing them together again. Then wipe off excess so there is no slippery build-up on top of surfaces when opening and closing the truck bed tonneau cover lid next time around.
Tip #6. Keep Tonneau Cover at the Right Place
If you have a truck bed tonneau cover, make sure it is always in the right place. You should never leave your tonneau cover on an angle or tilted to one side as this can cause damage and affect the performance of the truck bed tarpaulin. If possible do not tilt your pickup’s rear end more than 15 degrees off level when covering up with the tonneau because if that happens then water may pool at one end of your pick-up instead of all over evenly distributed across its length.
How often should I clean my tailgate? The frequency that you choose depends on how dusty/dirty your environment where you live. If so, every time after each car wash might be needed as well as every few weeks if not.
For the most part, there is no need to use a tonneau cover cleaner unless it becomes really dirty or gets heavily contaminated by acid rains and other contaminants. In which case some of these cleaners are highly effective at removing dirt and grime from its surface while preserving color integrity.