How to Clean Tonneau Cover – 10 Steps You Must Know

As an automotive expert and tonneau cover ninja, I know that keeping your truck’s tonneau cover clean is essential to maintaining its appearance and functionality. A dirty or stained tonneau cover looks unsightly and can compromise its durability and effectiveness. So, How to Clean Tonneau Cover?

Before we start, there are a few things to consider. First, ensure you use the right cleaning product for your tonneau cover. Not all cleaning products are safe for all types of tonneau covers, and using the wrong one could damage the cover’s material or finish. Secondly, clean your tonneau cover in a shaded area, away from direct sunlight. This will prevent the cleaning solution from drying too quickly and leaving streaks or stains on the surface.

Finally, avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals when cleaning your tonneau cover. Doing so could scratch or damage the cover, making it less effective and more susceptible to wear and tear. Let’s dig into the guide to learn all the details.

How to Clean Tonneau Cover?

Cleaning the tonneau cover is an essential task, and these are some necessary steps involved in the cleaning. The complete procedure will show the entire analysis of how to clean the hard and soft tonneau covers, which is slightly different from the cleaning toolbox. Here is a complete step-by-step guide to cleaning and protecting the tonneau cover that increases its life.

Step 1: Remove Loose Dirt and Debris

The first step to cleaning your tonneau cover is to remove any loose dirt, debris, or leaves that may have accumulated on it. Use a soft-bristled brush or a microfiber towel to sweep the surface gently. Avoid using a high-pressure washer, as the force of the water could damage the cover.

Step 2: Rinse with Water

Once you have removed the loose dirt and debris, rinse the tonneau cover with water to remove any remaining dust or grime. Use a garden hose or a bucket of water, and avoid using hot water, as it could damage the cover’s material. Ensure that you rinse the cover thoroughly, ensuring no dirt or debris remains. It is always recommended to look for the best waterproof tonneau covers.

Step 3: Apply a Tonneau Cover Cleaner

After rinsing, apply a tonneau cover cleaner to the surface. There are many cleaning products on the market specifically designed for tonneau covers, so choose one that is suitable for your cover’s material. Spray the cleaner evenly across the surface, ensuring that you cover the entire area. If you are using a spray bottle, hold it about six inches away from the surface to avoid over-spraying.

Step 4: Scrub the Surface

Once you have applied the cleaner, gently scrub the surface with a soft-bristled brush or a microfiber towel. Focus on any areas with stains or grime, using circular motions to lift the dirt away. Do not scrub too hard, as this could damage the cover. Instead, use gentle pressure and let the cleaner do the work.

Step 5: Rinse Again

After scrubbing, rinse the tonneau cover thoroughly with water to remove the cleaner and any dirt or grime that you have lifted. Ensure that you rinse the surface completely so no residual cleaner is left on the cover.

Step 6: Dry the Cover

Once you have rinsed the cover, use a microfiber towel to dry it. Start at the top and work your way down, gently wiping the surface to remove excess water. Use a second towel to ensure the surface is completely dry if necessary. Avoid using a rough or abrasive cloth, which could scratch or damage the cover.

Step 7: Apply a Protectant

After cleaning and drying your tonneau cover, apply a protectant to help preserve its appearance and protect it from UV rays and other environmental factors. Choose the best protectant that is compatible with your tonneau cover’s material and apply it evenly across the surface using a clean cloth or sponge. Ensure that you cover the entire surface, including the edges and corners.

Step 8: Buff the Surface

Once you have applied the protectant, buff the surface with a clean microfiber towel to remove any excess product and ensure an even coating. Buffing the surface also helps to bring out the cover’s shine and improve its appearance.

Step 9: Repeat as Necessary

If your tonneau cover is particularly dirty or stained, you may need to repeat the cleaning process to achieve the desired results. However, avoid over-cleaning the cover, as this could damage the material and make it less effective in protecting your truck bed.

Step 10: Maintain a Regular Cleaning Schedule

Finally, maintain a regular cleaning schedule to keep your tonneau cover looking new. Depending on your usage and environment, you may need to clean your cover every few months or more frequently. By cleaning your tonneau cover regularly, you can prevent dirt and grime from building up and maintain its appearance and functionality.

What should you look into the tonneau cover before cleaning and washing?

I always examine my tonneau cover with a keen eye. I clean the bed cover with soft hands if there are any dents. If you consider your tonneau significantly, it will be inclined with scratches and corrosion, making your cover look unattractive. In such a manner, check it out by a manufacturer for repair and adjustment because these minor issues will worsen.

What should you look inside the truck before cleaning and washing?

Sometimes, the clamps, bolts, and adjuster blocks you used in installing the tonneau cover might get loose. I inspect all the inside hardware accessories to see if they require any snug fit. If yes, then I tightly closed them so there would be no causing of sliding and moving of the rail.

How to use a tonneau cover protectant spray?

Following are the steps included in the process of applying tonneau cover protectant spray.

  • I sprayed a 303 Tonneau cover cleaner on the cover. 
  • Applying the protectant and leaving the cover on for 48 hours will do this. 
  • After 48 hrs, you can use your tonneau cover and expose the cover to the atmosphere.
  • You can also apply the second layer of the protectant if you consider it needed.

You can read about: Can You Use Armor All on Tonneau Covers?

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make a tonneau cover look new?

Keeping a tonneau cover looking new is relatively easy. To make my bed cover look new, I wash it off with a car washing solution and then wipe off all the foaming. Then, I chose the UV spray all over the tonneau cover to protect it from UV rays and other outer elements. 

What is the best thing to put on a tonneau cover?

I was surfing for an utmost protection spray and found out about the 303 Automotive Protectant. It helps to keep the tonneau cover from fading and cracking. Moreover, it gives a protective layer that prevents it from UV rays.

How do you protect a vinyl tonneau cover?

A vinyl or soft tonneau cover requires proper cleaning and maintenance. Make sure you wash it off once a month for its longevity and durability. In addition, you must use a protective spray to keep it safe from outer elements. 

Can you use Simple Green on Tonneau cover?

Once I ran out of my washing solution, my tonneau cover got dirty and grimy. I filled the bucket with cold water, added ordinary soap like Simple Green, and mixed it well. I grabbed a soft car brush and smoothly rubbed it to clean out all the dirt from the bed cover.


Cleaning your tonneau cover is essential to maintaining your truck’s appearance and functionality. Following the steps outlined above, you can effectively clean and protect your cover from damage and wear and tear. Remember to choose the right cleaning product for your cover’s material, avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals, and maintain a regular cleaning schedule to keep your tonneau cover looking new for years to come.

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