A few simple tips and techniques geared towards the cleaning and protecting of satin and matte wrapped rides.
The aim of the game this time around was to take advantage of the freshly installed 3M vinyl to show the product types and basic techniques that should be used to safely keep both matte and satin wrapped rides looking and feeling fresh.
Assuming it’s been done well, a decent wrap should be versatile enough to withstand regular detailing duties without vexation however it still makes sense to take a little extra care to ensure it remains properly adhered.
The first thing I recommend doing is sourcing some products that have been specifically formulated to clean and protect satin and matte finishes. I’d secured a nice sample trio of products from Chemical Guys as well as a decent drying towel from Gtechniq and a sponge (yes sponge) from Dodo Juice.
The second thing I want to focus on is working around delicate edges. It’s not always possible to fully tuck a vinyl wrap, so on a larger car like this there’ll likely be a few visible joins and exposed edges here and there that need to be considered before you get cracking.
Big fluffy wash mitts are great for keeping the swirls at bay on glossy paintwork but on a wrapped ride they probably aren’t the best idea as the small fibres can easily catch along the edges of the vinyl and potentially cause it to prematurely lift.
A synthetic microfibre mitt is a far better choice and one with a shorter pile is preferable but as the name suggests there’s still the possibility for micro fibres to be left behind so to avoid this completely I thought I’d go all out and recommend a super soft £10 Dodo Juice detailing sponge!
The same thinking goes for the towel you then use to dry the car. Plush ones would normally be best however on a wrapped car with edges, those thick fibres could potentially catch so I’d recommend going with a quality waffle weave style drying towel like this Gtechniq Diamond Sandwich instead, which won’t marr a satin or matte finish but will be a lot safer around the edges.
Before wetting the car down I wanted to grab a few ‘dry’ maintenance cleaning shots using the Meticulous Matte Spray Sealant, which as well as being a post-wash protectant can also be used to safely remove light dirt in between washes.
A few quick toots of the spray and gentle wipe over with a soft towel helped gently lift off what light dust there was and being wax free there’s no heavy buffing required or unsightly smears to be left behind.
Following an off-camera wheel clean I then set about soaking the car in the versatile Meticulous Matte Auto Wash which can be used as both a shampoo and a snow foam. Providing you’re not using anything excessively strong, it’s safe to snow foam a wrapped car and although swirl prevention is less of a concern on matte and satin finishes, it should still help to give a slightly better quality clean.
After being blanketed with the satin-safe suds the GTR was left to soak for a few minutes, safe in the knowledge the streak-free formula wouldn’t spoil the fun.
The owner had been told not to pressure wash the car and while I understand why, most professional detailers will be perfectly happy pressure washing a wrapped ride. Still, the owner wanted to heed the installer’s advice so I went with a straight forward hose rinse instead to keep both our minds at rest.
Once pre-cleaned you should then wash your wrapped ride from top to bottom using the two bucket method if possible. You don’t have to use a detailing sponge like I was here, a non-fibrous microfibre wash mitt will suffice but if you’re paranoid about exposed edges then I’d advise giving a soft sponge like this a go or at least reserving one for use on and around potentially problematic edges.
When contact cleaning you want to be as methodical as you can and try to follow the lines of both the car and the wrap instead of haphazardly working against them. Also because vinyl is a lot softer than the clear coat on your car you don’t want to exert much pressure or scrub away excessively, so just let your sponge or mitt gently glide over the surface and do most of the work for you.
After being adequately sponged down it was on to a final rinse to remove the streak-free suds and having not hosed a car off for quite some time I’d forgotten just how long it can take in comparison to a good old pressure wash but still, it got the job done in the end.
You then want to dry your wrapped ride off and while the safest method is undoubtably blow drying, I know most people watching this probably won’t own a suitable machine so opted to focus on an appropriate towel drying technique instead.
As I’ve already said, plush towels would normally be the go-to tool for safely drying off a car but their fibres could aggravate freshly adhered edges so I’d advise using a high quality waffle weave drying towel instead.
You can either draw the towel across the surface to remove the standing water with relative ease, pat it over the panels and crevices to safely soak it up without risking damage, or gently wipe it over the vinyl in a similar manner to how you washed the car.
The downside of using a hosepipe to rinse your car instead of a pressure washer is the greater volume of water left on the surface which obviously requires more contact to soak up. So just be aware if you do hose down, you’ll generally be wringing your towel out considerably more than if you pressure wash your wrapped ride.
Despite being non-glossy you can and should keep satin and matte wraps sealed and protected. Chemical Guys offers a Matte version of their famed Jetseal product which I thought would be perfect for this freshly wrapped ride, so after being squeezed onto a soft sponge applicator pad it was dabbed onto the surface then gently spread over it and left to cure for a few minutes before being buffed off with a contrasting coloured towel.
There’s no need to work a protectant like this into the surface with any real vigour, instead you should simply ensure a uniform coverage is obtained over the lightly textured surface which isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Now, despite what I said earlier about plush towels and wrapped cars, you will have to use one for buffing away any residue but you can see what you’re doing a bit better with no suds or spray masking the surface, so as long as you remain vigilant and try to work with edges instead of against them you should be fine.
The same also goes for the actual application of the product. The last thing you want is unsightly residue build up along the edges, so if your not confident it might be best to avoid these areas altogether and reserve them for a residue-free spray protectant.
Don’t expect a huge improvement in the overall finish of a matt or satin surface, on a darker colour like black you’ll get some visible richness and sheen but generally you’re just looking to clean and protect the vinyl from UV rays and environmental contaminants that could be more damaging to an exposed textured surface like this than a sealed glossy one.
While you can technically leave it there, I wanted to boost the finish of the Jetseal by partnering it with the Meticulous Matte spay sealant used earlier and at this stage, a quick spritz then gentle wipe with a fresh towel should do the job nicely.
If you have any unsightly water spots following your wash or just in general then a simple spray like this is perfect for gently lifting them off and leaving a fresh, blemish free and protected finish. And while it’s not necessary to seal your wrapped ride every time you clean it, it’s definitely worth doing once in a while to help keep it in fine fettle.
And that’s really all I’d recommend doing. Modern vinyl is allot more versatile than it once was and so assuming it’s been properly installed, shouldn’t need too much pampering.
I’d personally Jetseal or similar twice up front, then after every other wash just top-up with a simple residue-free spray sealant to keep things as well protected and easily maintainable as realistically possible.
It’s not imperative you use products specifically formulated for these types of finish but it certainly makes sense, as does steering clear of any excessively plush or fibrous mitts and towels and working with edges and joins instead against them. Basically, in essence just try and keep it sympathetic to how the wrap has been applied.