How to Properly Care for Vehicle Graphics & Wraps

Hand washing your vehicle is the preferred method of cleaning a car wrap. If using this method, first rinse off as much dirt and grit as possible with a spray of water before using a soft, clean cloth or sponge and a wet, non-abrasive detergent to wash the vehicle. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with clean water and reduce water spotting by using a silicone squeegee to remove excess water immediately. Finish with a clean microfiber cloth.Wrapped vehicles can be run through a car wash, with a touchless system being the best choice. Use of brush car washes may cause damage to your vehicle graphic, including dulling, scratching, and lifting the edges of the film.
It is also possible to pressure wash a vehicle with a graphic wrap. According to 3M’s vehicle care guidelines, pressure washing may be used under these conditions:

  • Ensure the water pressure is kept below 2000 psi (14 MPa).

  • Keep water temperature below 180 °F (80 °C).

  • Use a spray nozzle with a 40-degree wide angle spray pattern.

  • Keep the nozzle at least 1 foot (300 mm) away from and perpendicular (at 90 degrees) to the graphic.

  • It is important to note that holding the nozzle of a pressure washer at an angle to graphic may lift the edges of the film.

Some other care tips to keep in mind when cleaning a vehicle with a car wrap include:

  • Wipe off any fuel spills immediately to avoid degrading the vinyl and adhesive.

  • Do no use any abrasive polishes or cutting compounds (3M does not recommend using wax or other similar coatings on vehicle graphics).

  • If there is wax or wax residue on the surface, remove with an all-purpose cleaner.

  • When using a cleaning solution, do not allow it to stand and soak; immediately rinse with clear water.

  • Store your wrapped vehicle indoors, in a shaded area, or under a cover whenever possible to preserve and protect the graphics. If storage in a garage is not available, consider using a cloth car cover at night to protect against dew or rain which may contain acidic pollutants.