How to Clean and Prepare Your Ride for Wrapping
Step 2: Thoroughly Clean Installation Area
In an ideal world you will be installing
your vinyl wrap in an area that is protected from wind and rain such
as a garage or car port. If you are forced to wrap outdoors you can
simply skip this step.
In order to ensure that ambient dust
and dirt is not attracted onto the wrap's adhesive during
installation. Sweep and vacuum the area and then mop the area.
Step 3: Remove Hardware and Deep Clean
If your vehicle still has shiny wheels after a wash it means that silicon-based or oil-based protectants have been used on them. Why is this a problem? Simply because the wheels literally spray these substances onto the side panels of the vehicle making your job of cleaning and preparing the surface doubly hard.
As much as you may not want to, you need to go the extra mile and remove hardware where dirt and grease can hide. This means that you want to remove all nozzles, emblems, side moldings and reflectors as a lot of grime holes up in there.
Step 4: Use Micro-fiber Cloth in Quadrants
Fold up your micro-fiber cloth or towel
into quadrants so you can get 8 sides for the price of two.
Proceed to clean each section of the vehicle and flip to the next side when you’re done. Not only will you save time but you can know with certainty which areas have been thoroughly cleaned.
Step 5: Use Overlapping Strokes
Don’t forget to overlap your cleaning strokes too on wide areas and clean open doors and edges in order to completely cover all areas. You should use both a general cleaner and a degreaser or an all-in-one. There a number of these products on the market so be sure to do a little homework on which you need and which will work best for your application area.
And, as always, be sure to use the proper safety gear like gloves and goggles to avoid potential damage to skin, eyes and mucous membranes.
Step 6: Clean Crevices with Squeegee Wrapped in
Use a squeegee wrapped in a towel to get into the areas where your fingers can’t reach. Examples of these areas are the seams between panels, headlights, taillights, bezels, etc.
Step 7: Re-Clean the Vehicle One More Time
Unless you want to ruin your wrap job clean everywhere. That means under the wheel wells, under the hood and every surface of the car that can be accessed, even if it’s not being wrapped, like the windows and glass. Why risk the wrap being damaged when you can prevent it with a little extra cleaning?
Step 8: Finish with Scratchless Sponge or Clay
Use a clay or Scratchless sponge (especially on older cars) to remove any remaining blemishes or imperfections. Doing so will give you the best possible results.
Step 9: So the "Squeak Test"
Your fingers can do the talking for you and will tell if your ride is wrap ready. Slide your index finger across the application surface and if it squeaks, you’re good to go. If it is greasy and slides then you need to re-clean. We’ve covered a lot of ground so let us sum up with a quick list:
Pre-Cleaning for Wraps Recap
Basic car wash (no waxes or protectants) the day before because it allows for complete drying.
If wheels are shiny that means they’ve use a protectant silicone-based or oil based which means that it has been splattered along the whole side of the body.
Always clean your space before attempting to install the wrap. It’s best to sweep and mop before you bring the car into the space, especially in winter due to the electro-static charge of the vinyl wraps that will attract dust.
Remove hardware and clean it (molding, nozzles, side lights).
Use a micro-fiber or paper towel folded into quadrants so you can flip it over as it gets dirty.
Use overlapping strokes when cleaning, clean open doors and edges too.
Use a general cleaner and a degreaser or an all-in-one.
After initial cleaning, wrap a squeegee in the towel and dig it into creases and tight areas where your finger can’t reach.
Clean under the hood, under the wheel well, clean all of the windows and the entire car.
Use a clay bar or scratchless sponge.
Use the “squeaky finger” check. If it squeaks, it's good to go.
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