In off-roading, a soft top is a flexible covering made of vinyl or canvas fabric designed to fit over the open back of a vehicle Soft tops provide excellent weather protection and can be easily folded down when not in use.
And boy, can soft tops take a beating! From mud to dust, tree sap to bird droppings, your soft top can get pretty dirty and grimy as the seasons go by.
That’s why it’s important to know how to clean and store your soft top properly to stay in great condition for years to come. While some may like the distressed look, it’s important to maintain your soft top so that it doesn’t become brittle and ineffective.
Why Cleaning Your Soft Top Matters
Regularly cleaning your soft top is essential for several reasons:
Naturally, cleaning helps remove dirt, dust, bird droppings, and other debris that can accumulate over time. If left unattended, these substances can stain and damage the fabric or vinyl material of your soft top.
Plus, a clean soft top improves visibility, especially if you have a car with a rear window made of fabric or plastic. Additionally, proper cleaning prevents the growth of mold and mildew, which can cause unpleasant odors and deteriorate the material.
When not in use, your soft top is exposed to the elements and can be prone to damage from rain, snow, and harmful UV rays. By storing your soft top correctly, you minimize the risk of cracks, fading, and other forms of deterioration. We'll delve into the details of preparing your soft top for storage later in this guide.
It's also important to consider the storage location. Ideally, you should store your soft top in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Exposure to extreme temperatures and UV rays can accelerate the deterioration process. If possible, use a soft top storage bag or cover to provide an extra layer of protection.
By following these cleaning and storage practices, you can ensure that your soft top remains in excellent condition for years to come. Remember, proper care and maintenance not only preserve the appearance of your soft top but also contribute to your vehicle's overall enjoyment and value.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Soft Top
Gathering the Necessary Cleaning Supplies
Before you begin the cleaning process, ensure you have all the necessary supplies. Having the right cleaning products and tools ensures an effective and thorough cleaning. Here's a list of essential items you'll need:
Essential Cleaning Products for Your Soft Top:
- Mild soap or specialized soft top cleaner
- Soft-bristle brush or sponge
- Microfiber towels or lint-free cloth
- Vinyl or fabric protectant (optional)
Tools You'll Need for a Thorough Clean:
- Bucket of warm water
- Hose or pressure washer
- Gentle scrub brush
- Soft-top convertible cleaner brush (if applicable)
Now that you have gathered all the necessary cleaning supplies, it's time to delve into the world of soft top cleaning!
Preparing Your Soft Top for Cleaning
Now that you have all the necessary supplies, it's time to prepare your soft top for cleaning. Start by removing any loose dirt or debris using a soft-bristle brush or a microfiber cloth. Be gentle to avoid scratching the material, especially if it's fabric-based.
Next, moisten the entire soft top with water to loosen any stubborn dirt or grime.
Applying the Cleaning Solution
Once your soft top is damp, it's time to apply the cleaning solution. Dilute the mild soap or soft top cleaner in a bucket of warm water, following the manufacturer's instructions.
Take a soft-bristle brush or sponge, dip it into the soapy solution, and gently scrub the entire surface of your soft top. Pay special attention to any stains or heavily soiled areas.
Use a specialized soft-top convertible cleaner brush to reach into the grooves and crevices for convertible soft tops.
Rinsing and Drying Your Soft Top
After scrubbing, thoroughly rinse your soft top with clean water using a hose or a pressure washer on low pressure. Make sure to remove all the soap residue to avoid streaking or discoloration.
Once rinsed, use a microfiber towel or a lint-free cloth to dry your soft top. Pat the surface gently to absorb the water without rubbing or causing friction that could damage the material.
Assessing Your Soft Top for Damage
Regularly assessing your soft top for damage is essential in catching potential issues early on. By doing so, you can take prompt action and prevent further deterioration. Here are some common signs of wear and tear to look out for:
- Tears or holes in the fabric or vinyl
- Visible mold or mildew growth
- Discoloration or fading
- Loose or broken stitches
- Cracks or creases in the plastic windows
When to Seek Professional Repair
If you notice significant damage or if your soft top needs extensive repair, it's best to consult a professional. They have the expertise and specialized tools to handle repairs correctly. Ignoring or attempting DIY fixes for severe damage can lead to further complications and may require a full soft top replacement.
For instance, you may notice a small hole in the fabric of your top. This would be considered light wear and tear and can generally be patched up with a kit or repaired at home.
However, if there are multiple tears along the same seam or water is seeping through due to poor stitching, it's best to take your car to an expert for repairs.
It's also a good idea to have a professional inspect your soft top at least once a year for any potential wear and tear that could lead to future damage.
Preparing Your Soft Top for Storage
Properly preparing your soft top for storage is crucial in maintaining its integrity during the off-season or when not used.
Before storing your soft top, it's crucial to ensure it is completely dry. Moisture trapped within folds or creases can lead to mold growth or unpleasant odors. Allow sufficient time for your soft top to air dry, or use a clean microfiber towel to gently absorb any remaining moisture.
After your soft top is dry, carefully fold it and pack it according to the manufacturer's instructions. Lower the frame and secure it in its resting position for convertible soft tops. Avoid placing heavy objects on the folded soft top to prevent creasing or deformation.
Store your soft top in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, extreme temperatures, and humidity. It's recommended to use a soft-top storage bag for additional protection.
By following these step-by-step instructions for cleaning and storing your soft top, you can ensure its longevity and maintain its pristine appearance. Remember, regular maintenance is key to enjoying your soft top for years to come - so don’t forget to take the time to care for it!
At Goats Trail Off-Road Apparel Company, we are always on the hunt for the best tips and tricks to help your offroading adventure be the best it can be. Be sure to check out our other blogs for more tips and ideas.
If you are looking for the best offroading clothes and accessories, then stop by our shop and see what we have in store!