How to Clean a Car Cover

Car covers are great for protecting the car underneath, but without proper cleaning themselves, they can do more harm than good. The fabrics used to make car covers are greatly affected by dirt build-up. It can ruin the water resistance properties of the fabric and lead to dirt getting through along with water and other debris you’re trying to protect your car from. Here are some steps to keep your cover clean so it can properly protect your car.

Machine Washing Your Car Cover

Many covers are machine washable, but you will need to take them to a Laundromat where they have commercial sized machines with no center agitator.

You Will Need:

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Add 1/4 c. cleaner to washing machine.
  2. Select warm or cold water and normal or permanent press cycles and let the machine begin filling.
  3. When the cleaner is dissolved in the water, add the cover.
  4. Run through normal wash/rinse cycle.
  5. Run an additional rinse cycle to ensure all soap has been removed. This is an important step to protect the water resistance properties of the cover.
  6. Allow the cover to air dry completely. It’s often easiest to take it back home and put it over the car to allow it to dry. Do not dry in a dryer unless there is a special note on the care instructions that it is machine dryable.

Cleaning Your Car Cover on Your Car

If you don’t have access to a Laundromat, you may be able to clean your cover directly on your car.

You Will Need:

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Fill your bucket with warm or cold water.
  2. Add 1 oz. Simple Green Cleaner for each quart of water.
  3. Spray the cover with a hose to dampen it and remove any loose debris.
  4. Using the sponge or cloth, wash the cover with the cleaning solution.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with the hose. Be sure to remove all suds to maintain the fabric’s water resistance.
  6. Turn your cover inside out and place it back on your car.
  7. Repeat steps 1-5.
  8. Allow the cover to dry completely.

Removing Sap, Bird Droppings, and Excess Dirt

To keep these items from soaking through to your car, you will want to be diligent about keeping your cover clean. This is especially true if you are parking under a tree where you may encounter several of these problems on a regular basis.

The Cleaning Process:

Depending on your stain the severity, here are a couple of techniques to try:

  • Sap – Rub with denatured alcohol or mineral spirits. Dab with a paper towel or scrape with a plastic knife or spoon to remove. This may take some elbow grease, but it should come out.
  • Bird Poop – Apply stain remover, vinegar, or Poop-off. Scrub with a sponge and soapy water while washing. It should come out fairly easily.
  • Dirt – If you have excess dirt build-up, try applying a spray stain remover prior to washing.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Never dry clean your car cover.
  • Never use fabric softener on your car cover as it will nullify the water resistance capabilities.
  • Never place non-woven or specialty covers in the dryer. If your cover is poly-cotton, cotton or flannel, it may be okay to dry it on low heat. Check the care instructions.
  • Do not wash in machines with center agitators.
  • Do not wash in hot water.
  • Ensure there is no bleach in the detergent used for washing.

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