How to Clean Your Convertibles Soft Top

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How to Clean Your Convertibles Soft Top

Nothing is better than sporting around in a fast, sporty convertible car. However, when the soft top is up and all that brake dust and debris from the road hits it, it can be a hassle trying to clean it. Fortunately, soft top convertible owners can keep them clean with just a few simple steps.

There are two different types of convertible tops: vinyl tops and canvas tops. Each of these has different maintenance requirements in order to keep its superior condition, and knowing the difference in what each type of material requires to get it clean is important. The soft top of the convertible can be ruined if not cleaned properly. This can cause expensive repairs to the top and force the cool ride to sit and not be driven.

Though vinyl tops are easier to keep clean, canvas tops have a better look to them when riding around town. And, car owners should also pay careful attention to the vinyl window attached to the top as it needs special attention as well. Putting in the time to keep the convertible top clean ensures the car is looking great all the time.

Cleaning a Vinyl Convertible Soft Top

One of the best features of vinyl tops is the waterproof components. This makes the vinyl top much easier to maintain than a canvas top. Even though it may handle water well, the typical vinyl top will have a tendency to turn yellow if not maintained properly. This is due to the sun damage the top takes in. The vinyl top should be protected from the sun and other pollutants in order to maintain its fashionable look.

When the vinyl top is ready to be cleaned, cleaning should be done in several steps:

  1. The top should be completely wetted down before any products are applied to clean it.
  2. Apply the cleaner evenly on the top and let it sit. The dirtier the top, the longer the cleaner should sit before being removed. The cleaner can be kept on the top up to 15 minutes to ensure the solution brings out much of the debris.
  3. With a nylon brush, use circular movements to scrub the top allowing the cleaner to break up the debris off the top. Start in one section and slowly work around the entire car top.
  4. Thoroughly rinse the cleaner off the vinyl top.
  5. Now it is time to dry the top. Use a soft cloth and pat dry until the entire top feels dry.
  6. A protectant should be applied to the top to help protect it from damage from the sun or debris. Follow the directions on the protectant to ensure the correct application.

What to Avoid with a Vinyl Convertible Soft Top

Vinyl tops are notorious for cracking and scratching easily. These things can be prevented by using the right tools while cleaning the top and maintaining the top regularly. When applying the cleaning solution, a soft brush is preferred to ensure the top does not get scratched. These scratches are not only visually disturbing, but they also are areas where mold and mildew can accumulate. Avoid drying out the vinyl by checking the ingredients in the cleaner. Alcohol and ammonia are both chemicals that are known to dry out the vinyl, causing cracks.

Cleaning a Canvas Convertible Soft Top

Canvas tops are constructed differently than vinyl tops and require a different type of care. Though canvas tops should also get regular maintenance to keep their sleek feel, car owners will need to follow a different approach. Owners should look for signs of wear and damage to a canvas top that would not be present on a vinyl one. The fabric top contains small grooves that are a great place to trap debris and dirt that can sit until cleaned out. Owners should carefully check their tops for these issues. In addition, the biggest difference in the cleaning of the canvas top is the drying and protecting process. When the canvas top is fully protected, water should bead up on it. After cleaning and using a protectant, if this is not seen, owners should apply protectant again. Owners should follow this simple process for cleaning a canvas soft top:

  1. The fabric top should be wetted down completely. Avoid using too much water in order to not weaken the material.
  2. Apply the cleaner, especially to any real dirty areas. Use a circular motion and a brush to scrub the top.
  3. Rinse off all the cleaning product from the convertible top.
  4. Using a towel, apply a rubber preservative to protect the top to keep it looking great. If there is any excess preservative, remove with another towel.

Knowing which product is best used on the type of material the convertible top is made of can be helpful in keeping the convertible looking good and clean. Different manufacturers produce different cleaners for specific materials so owners should carefully read the instructions on the product to ensure it is appropriate for their soft top.

Many convertibles have a window attached to the convertible top so the driver can see out the back. This is also an important area to keep clean. Most convertibles feature a plastic PVC material for the back window. If left unattended to, the window can get hazy and drivers may have a hard time seeing out the window. To clean the window, follow this simple process:

  1. Using a damp terry cloth, wipe down the window.
  2. Spray with a plastic deep cleaner and leave for a few minutes.
  3. Wipe off the cleaner with another terry cloth.
  4. Using a microfiber towel, apply a windscreen cleaner.

The back window should be clear and should not be hazy. If there is still some haziness, the deep cleaner can be reapplied again before apply the windscreen.

Removing Stains on a Convertible Soft Top

When a driver spots a stain on the soft top, it's important to immediately take action. Use the appropriate cleaner for the material on the stain as soon as possible. Let the cleaner sit on the spot anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes depending on how bad it is. Once the spot has been lifted, car owners should make sure the entire cleaner residue is removed from the top before moving on. Only a good convertible cleaner should be used, not a shampoo. Be careful not to spread the stain into a larger area.

As a convertible owner, it is important to always keep a stock of supplies to clean the convertible top. These items that should be kept are microfiber towels, terry cloth towels, soft bristle brushes, and a variety of cleaners and protectants. Having these items in stock will ensure the top is protected from fading and stains and is kept looking great. These products are completely different than what is used on the car itself and should not be interchanged at any point.

Buying Cleaners for a Convertible Soft Top on eBay

Whether you want to load up on stock to clean your convertible's soft top or have a specific need for a cleaning product to use on the convertible's top, these can be bought through eBay stores or auction listings. By searching under the eBay Motors category, you will find many sub listings with a variety of cleaners and protectants for your car's convertible top. You can search by the general term or by a specific brand.

Sort by Price

If you are trying to stay within a certain budget, you can sort the listings by price. This allows you to see the range in prices and choose the products that meet your needs without exceeding your price point. Be sure to check out the size of the product to ensure you get the most for your money.

Get to Know the Seller

While becoming familiar with the sellers, you can ask questions about a product or get a deal on multiple needed items with bulk pricing. Many sellers are tagged by eBay as top rated sellers. This essentially means eBay has recognized them because of their performance as a seller. This indicates the seller has good feedback, shipping, and customer satisfaction ratings. You can also question the seller about the shipping time and rates in order to receive your product more efficiently. By getting to know the seller, you can ensure a smoother transaction.


When it comes to keeping a convertible's soft top clean, there are many things to consider. Ultimately, the material of the soft top is the most important thing to consider when cleaning it. This will dictate what type of product should be used on the convertible top. Vinyl convertible tops will need to be cleaned and protected differently than canvas tops. Vinyl tops are generally waterproof, but owners can encounter both cracks and scratches in the material if it is not properly maintained. Canvas tops have ridges in them making it easy to trap debris. These should be cleaned out regularly to avoid fading and staining.

Car owners should keep an inventory of products specifically for the material of their convertible soft top. This ensures stains are treated in a timely fashion and debris does not settle in, causing harm to the top. For a wide variety of products, car owners can find them through eBay stores and auction listings to get the best products for their convertible's soft top maintenance.

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