If you’ve just had your vehicle wrapped whether it’s for personal or business use, you may be wondering how to care for a vehicle wrap. How do you clean them and are they safe to go through a car wash? Here, Sunrise Signs is happy to offer wrap cleaning and maintenance tips from the top manufacturers of vinyl film: 3M, Avery Dennison and Oracal.
Care Tips From 3M
For their wrap films, 3M recommends the following care but be sure to check out their product bulletin for additional information:
- Use a non-abrasive cleaner that is void of strong solvents. Make sure the pH value is between three and eleven.
- Power washing is okay, however, if done too much or too aggressively can damage graphics, or cause the adhesive to come loose—especially on perforated graphic film.
- Safer ways include using a spray nozzle and spray in a 40 degree pattern and never go over 1500 to 2000 psi.
- Keep the water level no hotter than 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Be sure to hold the nozzle at least 12 inches away from the vehicle.
- Try to avoid directly spraying the vinyl film edges.
- A brush may loosen the edge of the film or dull the graphics printed on the film.
- For hand washing, clean with water first to remove debris.
- Use a sponge, soft brush or rag and apply a mild liquid detergent and water solution.
- Wash from the top to the bottom and avoid scrubbing.
- When completed, make sure you wash off the all the cleaning solution from the top down.
- Dry graphics with a clean towel.
- For special film like matte or textured, never use harsh chemicals or aggressive brushing or scrubbing motions.
- Never apply wax, polish, paint or clear coat on the wrap film.
- For difficult stains such as tar, oil, etc., they recommend using 3M citrus base cleaner. You can also use a cloth that is damp with mineral spirits or kerosene.
- To rid the vehicle wraps of pollen and fungus—first avoid parking under trees. To remove these stains, wash using a three to five household bleach/water solution or a mild liquid detergent and water. Be sure to rinse immediately after washing.
Care Tips from Avery Dennison
To care for your Avery Dennison vehicle wraps, follow these tips:
- When hand washing, make sure the solution is a mix of clean water and a mild detergent.
- It’s best to test the solution you prepare on a small section before use.
- Make sure the bucket you are using is clean and free of debris.
- First rinse the vinyl film and graphics with clean water—a water hose works nicely.
- Wash the wrap from the top down and allow dirt and other debris to run downward.
- Rinse with a garden hose.
- You can either allow the wrap to air dry or use a microfiber cloth to dry them.
- If you wish, you can use a silicone or Teflon based polish. Avery Dennison offers a list of approved cleaners and polishes for vehicle wraps.
- Avoid using a pressure washer as this may lift the edges of the wrap film. If you do use a pressure washer, make sure the pressure is not greater than 1200 psi. The water temperature should be no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray at a 40 degree angle. Keep the nozzle at least 18-inches from the vehicle.
- If taking the vehicle to an automatic car wash, ask the owners if the cleaning solution has a pH of three to eleven.
- Ask about brushes—how soft are they and are they non-abrasive to ink and PVC surfaces?
- Ask if the spray pressure is 1,000 psi or less.
- Make sure the car wash cleaning solution doesn’t stay on the vinyl or graphics longer than 60 seconds.
- For difficult stains, use isopropyl alcohol and a clean, soft cloth.
Tips from Oracal
Last, but not least, below are some tips from Oracal on how to care for vehicle wraps. You can also download their maintenance and care materials for more information.
- Wash graphics and vinyl film with a mild detergent like Dawn, Joy or Ivory and test a small portion of the cleaning solution before applying to the entire vehicle.
- Clean from top to bottom and rinse with clean water.
- Both air-drying or using a microfiber cloth work nicely.
- Oracal recommends pressure washing only when no other cleaning method is available. Make sure the water temperature is between 67 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit and spray at a 45 degree angle. Keep the spray nozzle at least 15-inches away from the vehicle. The water pressure psi should be no more than 800. Don’t spray longer than 30 seconds at a time.
- Spot clean hard to remove spots using a microfiber cloth and isopropyl alcohol or use a citrus-based cleaner.
- If hand washing, recommended supplies include a garden hose with spray nozzle attachment, clean bucket, mild detergent, soft cotton rag or microfiber sponge and dry microfiber rags for drying. Clean from the top to bottom and be sure to rinse thoroughly with clean water.
If you’re unsure how to remove a certain stain on 3M, Avery Dennison or Oracal wrap films, call us at Sunrise Signs and we’ll be happy to let you know how to do it safely to keep your vehicle wraps intact.
Of course if you're in the market for vehicle wraps for your personal vehicle, company vehicles or a fleet, click the button below for a free quote.