How to Clean a Tonneau Cover in 5 Steps

Learn how to clean a tonneau cover yourself using available supplies, and save on cleaning costs.

Tonneau cover cleaning
Tonneau cover cleaning

A dirty truck bed cover can be plain ugly! In this article, we will show you how to clean a tonneau cover in only a few steps. Not only that, but how to do it safely so the cover last a long time. We will also be sharing some useful tonneau cover cleaning tips toward the end. Be sure to read to the end.

How to Clean a Tonneau Cover

A clean tonneau cover not only looks great but will also last a long time. Many truck owners do not know the correct way to clean these covers, though, especially when it comes to delicate materials such as vinyl. Here, we will go over the steps to clean one. But first, what’s the need for regular tonneau cover cleaning? Here’s why.

  • A dirty tonneau cover looks unsightly
  • A dirty tonneau cover can stain your items
  • Dirt can damage various tonneau cover parts
  • Dirt can produce odors, especially if it combines with moisture
Spraying tonneau cover cleaner
Spraying tonneau cover cleaner

Tonneau Cover Cleaning Steps

Different truck tonneau covers may need to be cleaned differently based on the type of material. Sometimes, a manufacturer will also provide specific cleaning steps or recommend certain supplies. That said, our steps on how to clean a tonneau cover apply to most covers, both hard and soft, and you can use them to clean yours.

What you will need:

  • Car soap or any other mild soap
  • Large bucket
  • Soft bristled scrub brush/scrubber pad
  • Microfiber towels
  • Water (preferably warm)

Step 1 Inspect Tonneau Cover

Start by safely parking your pickup truck in a shade (you don’t want the cleaner drying on the cover surface). Next, inspect the cover to ensure there are no damaged or loose parts. The sections to check include the tonneau cover rails, clamps, seals, bolts, and other hardware. Fix loose or broken parts before cleaning the cover.

Step 2 Hose Tonneau Cover

Wipe the tonneau cover with a piece of microfiber cloth or towel if too dusty. This will help remove the loose dirt or debris before applying the cleaner. If the cover is fairly clean, hose it instead. This will soak dirt and make it easy to clean. Once done, it’s time to move to the next step.

Step 3 Mix Tonneau Cover Cleaner

You can now prepare the tonneau cover cleaning solution. Mix ½ cup of the car cleaner with a bucketful of clean, warm water. You may also use cold water or just water and normal soap. You only need to avoid harsh soaps or chemicals.

Step 4 Clean Tonneau Cover

Use your soft bristled brush to scrub the surfaces while applying the cleaning solution. Be gentle with your movements to avoid causing damage to the cover surfaces. Use the tonneau cover cleaner to soak stubborn areas for around 5 minutes before scrubbing the mess with the brush.

Step 5 Rinse Tonneau

Finally, rinse the tonneau cover. Wipe the rinsed surfaces with a microfiber towel and allow the cover to dry in the shade. You may apply a protector if necessary. A tonneau cover protector ensures the materials remains protected from the damaging effects of UV rays and the elements.

Proper way to clean a tonneau cover
Proper way to clean a tonneau cover

Tonneau Cover Cleaning Tips

Regardless of which type of tonneau cover you own, it will probably need to be cleaned from time to time. You now know how to clean a tonneau cover but how do you so safely? We prepared a list of the do and don’ts when it comes to tonneau cover cleaning. Read them below.

1. Avoid cleaning your tonneau cover in the direct sun. If you cannot find a shaded area, we suggest choosing an overcast day to clean it. That will ensure you get the best results.

2. Consider cleaning one half of the tonneau cover surface at a time. Cleaning the entire cover width can be troublesome, especially if you do not have a long brush.

3. Do not use any harsh chemicals to clean your tonneau cover because it could damage the material. Only use a soap solution made for washing a vehicle or you can opt for a commercial tonneau cover cleaner.

4. Truck tonneau covers made from or coated with vinyl are sensitive to chemicals and abrasive cleaning equipment. Therefore, always use soft brushes and mild soaps them. Consider also, using the commercial vinyl tonneau cover cleaner.

5. Make sure your cleaned tonneau cover is completely dry before folding or rolling it up. If you fail to do this, you run the risk of mold and mildew being trapped in your truck bed or even the cover itself.

6. If using a fabric or fabric-coated tonneau cover, consider using a cleaning solution that includes a protector. A tonneau cover cleaner and protector is an easy way to ensure the accessory remains looking good for a long time.

7. Fix damaged parts of the tonneau cover assembly before you can start cleaning it. This is the best practice if you want to avoid further damage and increase the cover’s lifespan.

8. Mind the hidden gunk. Take steps to clean every part that you feel could be harboring grime. Dirt and debris are one of the causes of tonneau cover wear.

9. Make tonneau cover cleaning a regular activity. You will save yourself the costs to replace it earlier that the expected time, while also ensuring it looks dirt free and well taken care of always.


You are now familiar with how to clean a tonneau cover. Make it a regular activity and reap the benefits that come with it. A clean cover stays in good condition for a long time. During the tonneau cover cleaning, you also get the chance to inspect the different parts for damage, which helps to ensure a longer lifespan. Only be sure to do it correctly by avoiding harsh chemicals or abrasive equipment.

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