An enlarged side view of common vinyl fabric would show raw PVC (polyvinyl chloride) covered by a thin layer of plastic called the "topcoat".
The topcoat is the part of the vinyl you can see and touch. To keep vinyl fabric soft and flexible, manufacturers add agents known as
plasticizers to the raw PVC. A major function of the topcoat is to hold in these plasticizers, which otherwise would quickly evaporate. If the
topcoat is damaged or degraded, plasticizers begin to escape leading to embrittlement/cracking/ failure.
Protecting the topcoat, then, is the most crucial aspect of properly maintaining vinyl and the subject with which vinyl manufacturers are
Vinyl manufacturers agree on and recommend the following.
General Cleaning: Never use household cleaners, powdered or other abrasives, steel wool or industrial cleaners, dry cleaning fluids,
solvents (petroleum distillates), bleach or detergents. Use a medium-soft brush, warm soapy water, (such as Ivory soap), rinse with cool
water and then dry.
Mildew Stains: To kill the bacteria creating the mildew, use a medium-soft brush and vigorously brush the stained area with a 4 to 1
mixture of water and ammonia; rinse with cool water.
Tough Mildew Stains: Apply a mixture of one (1) teaspoon ammonia, one-fourth (1/4) cup of hydrogen peroxide and three-fourths (3/4) cup
of distilled water; rinse with cool water. Note: All cleaning methods must be followed by a thorough rinse with water.
Obviously abrasives should never be used on vinyl.
Petroleum distillates are a universal "no no" for both vinyl and rubber.
Waxes should never be used on vinyl because (a) Most waxes contain petroleum distillates; (b) Wax is a build-up product, holding in the
heat absorbed from the sun and accelerating heat damage.
Virtually all vinyl manufacturers agree that no type of oil should be used on vinyl.
Silicone oil vinyl treatments should not be used for several reasons: 1) Silicone oil formulations typically attack the vinyl topcoat. 2) Silicone
oil formulations usually contain no effective UV screening ingredients. 3) Silicone oil formulations are build-up products which accelerate
heat damage. 4) Silicone oil formulations are greasy and oily, attract dust, and soil more quickly.
READ THE LABEL! Product directions suggesting more than one coat for better cosmetic enhancement are build-up products and are
recommended against by vinyl manufacturers.
303 Aerospace Protectant for Vinyl: 303 Protectant is a beautifying liquid sunscreen, the routine use of which keeps vinyl looking like new
while dramatically extending its useful life. 303contains no petrochemicals, silicone oils or petroleum distillates. 303 is not a build-up
product. 303 treated surfaces dissipate heat normally.
303 is not oily or greasy and does not attract dust. In fact, 303 treated vinyl repels dust, dirt and stains, stays cleaner longer and is much
easier to clean when finally soiled. Since 303 contains a tested-safe-for-vinyl cleaner and is a cleaner and protector combined,
precleaners and precleaning usually are not required.
303 has been tested and is recommended by major vinyl and vinyl accessory manufacturers. As the leader in UV screening technology
since 1980, 303 is the most powerful UV screening treatment available for vinyl, leather, rubber, gel coat fiberglass and most plastics.
Regular use of 303 can reduce UV caused slow-fade up to 100%.
Please contact Canvasman for vinyl cleaning products.
303 Aerospace has turned out to be an excellent performer for upholstery on boats and cars and I still recommend this product.
However, there are some new recommended products available that are easier to use on Boat Lift Canopies.