How to clean a convertible rag top.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1991

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a white 1990 Volkswagon Cabriolet with a white convertible top. I've tried just about everything to get the top clean, without success. I've even tried the top cleaner sold by the dealer. Any ideas?

TOM: It's not as easy as it sounds, Tami. First of all, we've found that if you don't KEEP a convertible top clean, it's almost impossible to get all the crud and mold and mildew off later on. So if anyone reading today has a new convertible, be sure to clean it on a regular basis. But that doesn't help slobs like you and me, does it, Tami?

RAY: At the dealerships, cleaning one of these is a two person job. They use an industrial strength cleaner (Janitor in the Tub, or something like that) properly diluted, as per the instructions on the container.

TOM: Then while one guy holds a hose, the other guy starts scrubbing--one small area at a time. The hose has to be pouring water over the top at all times, so that the cleaner is never allowed to sit on the top OR the car's paint. If the cleaner stays on the paint for even a short time, it can discolor the car and do some very ugly damage.

RAY: So unless you're feeling daring, we'd suggest you take it to either your dealer or a reputable automotive detailer. If it turns out that the top is beyond cleaning, you can always have it re-dyed (the convertible top equivalent of re-painted) for between 50 and 100 bucks. And if you have it re-dyed, Tami, remember that this car looks pretty good with a black top, too.

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