How to Clean a Car Cover & Better Protect Your Car

Written by Howell Crist / Fact checked by Sam Howard

how to clean a car cover

Your car cover has been faithful, it’s been loyal, and it’s kept your sweet ride clean and protected day in and out for months, through summers and winters, and into years.

But can car covers be washed? Do people actually wash car covers? Would I need a professional cleaning service? Yes, YES, and… not really.

Take care of that cover that’s taken care of you all this time. Read on, and we’ll teach you how to clean a car cover.

Ways to Wash a Car Cover


Method 1: Wash by Hand

What to prepare:


  • Bucket filled with lukewarm or cold water
  • Mild detergent
  • Water hose (preferably commercial grade)
  • Microfiber Cloth or Sponge
  • Clothesline (or drying rack)
  • Vacuum

You can use this method to clean a cloth car cover without damaging its fabric.

Step 1: Shake it off

Start car cover cleaning by shaking off any loose particles from the car cover itself. Mind the direction of the wind, you don’t want dust and dirt all over you.

This is optional, but if you have a rug beater at home, you can also beat the dust out. Extend the cover vertically as you do so. It’s fun and a good workout.

Step 2: Strap it on

Before washing car cover, strap it onto your car as snugly as possible. You do not want folds and wrinkles and any chance of the cover from slipping off as you’re cleaning it.

Step 3: Vacuum it up

With your vacuum, get rid of any remaining dirt left on the cover. It’s a bit tedious but you want to make sure you don’t scratch your car when you move down the steps.

Step 4: Hose it down

You started to get dirty, now you get wet. Hose down the cover and remove any liquid residue or grime, like bird poop, that did not come off from your shaking and vacuuming.

If you do not have a hose, another bucket filled with clean water would suffice.

Step 5: Scrub it all around

Take your bucket of water and mix in mild detergent. Soak your microfiber cloth or a soft sponge in the solution and lather the cover.

Work in sections. Start from the top working your way down; be careful not to skip sections. Scrub in singular directions and be more energetic in the stained areas.

Step 6: Rinse and Repeat

Rinse the whole car down, and rinse it again. Keep a watchful eye and leave no soap behind. And when you think you’re done, turn the cover inside out.

It’s time to clean the inside of a car cover. But by now you’re pretty much a pro. With the cover turned inside out, soap it up again in sections, and rinse. Rinse well.

Be gentler with the inner layer too since the stitches are mostly done on the inside.

Step 7: Air dry

Let it dry naturally, preferably on a clothesline is best. But you can also let it dry on top of your car. Do not hang it onto fences or walls. They’re probably dirtier than your now clean cover.

Budge car cover washing instructions say never to dry clean a car cover.

Method 2: Machine Wash

What to prepare:


  • Mild detergent
  • A front-load commercial washer – You should not use washers with a central agitator. These will do damage to your cover.
  • A shower rack or clothesline

Step 1: Look for the washable tag

Washable car cover styles include those made with sturdy and clear PVC materials. Soft-compound covers are usually not machine-washable.

You can always check the tag on your covers. For instance, a California car cover washing instructions will have a machine-washability tag, allowing you to proceed with this method.

Step 2: Wash the cover

Toss your cover into the front-load commercial washer and let it fill with cool water. Add mild detergent and set the washer to delicate.

Do not use fabric softeners and bleach, or detergents with fabric softeners or bleach.

Step 3: Repeat rinse

Run the rinse cycle once or twice more with just water. Make sure no such soap residue is left.

Step 4: Air dry

Though the dryer will seem faster, the heat will be bad for your cover. Air dry on a clothesline or even a shower rack. Always let it dry naturally.

That’s all there is to know on how to wash a car cover! But continue reading as we answer those frequently asked questions below:



How do I take care of my car cover?

When using the cover, there are some tips you should know:

  • Strap on your covers properly. Use the loops or rope provided to properly snap on the cover on very windy areas and days. When the cover is not snug, the wind may also cause tears.
  • During freezing weather, be careful when removing your car cover. Some parts might have frozen to layers of ice. Pour warm water over your car and carefully remove the cover.

When the car cover is not in use, fold it properly instead of simply shoving it straight into its storage. Reckless handling might ruin stitches or cause tears.

  • Make sure the cover is dry before keeping it in storage.
  • Do not fold it on the ground to keep from dirt sullying the cover.
  • Bring the front and ends to the center.
  • Roll the cover or fold it over a few times.
  • And, keep it in a safe area free of pests or chemicals.

How do you clean a heavy-duty car cover?

With every cover unique, it is always best to check for the manufacturer’s tags. Most heavy-duty car covers can be hand washed or machine-wash with no problem.

However, if the cover is too dirty, you might want to use a more potent cleaner to remove the built-up grease and dirt.

Will a car cover ruin my paint?

While a car cover is meant to protect your paintwork from sun damage and other debris, a car cover can damage your paint.

If you do not clean the cover properly, the heavy sand, dirt, debris, or moisture trapped within the cover may scratch and damage your paint.

How to wash the Covercraft car cover?

Be it California Car Cover, Budge Car Cover, or Covercraft car covers, you can hand-wash them with mild detergent. Just always check manufacturer tags for machine washability.


If you want to get serious about keeping your car and paintwork looking fresh and perfect, it’s about time you invest in cleaning your car covers.

Car covers protect our cars from the sun’s harmful UV rays, abrasive dust and debris, and the acidity of bird droppings. It will not, however, do an excellent job once it gets too dirty.

Now that you know how to clean a car cover, that will not be a problem anymore. So, get out there and do some cleaning!

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Our chief editor is Sam Howard. The vast market of car care necessitates extensive research. He entered the market, experienced the service, and reported customer feedback in order to provide the best advice and content to car owners. We have faith in him to turn our website into a reliable resource for all car owners.

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