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Best soft top cleaners 2023

Fabric hoods need special care to clean and protect. We find the best combination

Looking after your car’s exterior is important and never more so than when it comes to a fabric soft-top. Like your paintwork, it’s constantly subject to the ravages of rain, snow, sun, airborne detritus, bird lime and tree sap.

On a car that you use regularly, it’s advisable to clean and reproof the roof twice a year. This is important because mildew in effect ‘eats’ the roof, causing it to rot and need replacing sooner.

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When attending to your roof, don’t work in direct sunlight and treat the entire area to avoid a patchy finish. Some products need the roof to be damp and others have to be left for a while before removing – so check carefully. Test an inconspicuous area for colour fastness and remove loose dirt using a stiff brush or vacuum before starting.

How we tested them

Autotrim (autotrimmer.co.uk) kindly supplied an old hood for our test. We brushed it off before applying the cleaners/proofers as per the makers’ instructions. It was left in the open, where it was under attack from all forms of weather and the local wildlife. At the end of the test period, we awarded marks for the effectiveness of the products, as well as their ease of use and value for money.

Verdict

With a new proofer formula and perfect performance, the Gtechniq pair stay at the top. But the new Turtle Wax combo pushes them hard, with Protex balancing performance and price in third spot. 

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  1.  Gtechniq W5 Citrus All Purpose Cleaner Concentrate & I1 Smart Fabric V3
  2. Turtle Wax Soft kit Hybrid Solutions FabricSoft Top and Interior All-in-One Cleaner & Protection Kit
  3. Protex Canvas Cleaner and Waterproofer

Reviews

Gtechniq W5 Citrus All Purpose Cleaner Concentrate & I1 Smart Fabric V3

  • Price: Around £32 (2x 500ml)  
  • Contact: gtechniq.com
  • Rating: 5/5 stars
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The W5 cleaner was the same as last time and suitable for cleaning all sorts of surfaces, but extremely efficient at pulling off dirt and mildew. Because it can be diluted between neat and 10:1 (we used 5:1), the price can be brought right down.

The proofer is a new version of the previous winner, with improved antimicrobial technology, which kills most bacteria and prevents the onset of mould and mildew. After application, we worked it well into the hood, and at the final water spray, the beading and definition were easily the best of the bunch.

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Turtle Wax Soft kit Hybrid Solutions FabricSoft Top and Interior All-in-One Cleaner & Protection Kit

This new kit uses cationic tech to clean dirt and staining from fabric seats, mats and carpets. The kit includes a scrub brush and a microfibre cloth, making it good value, although it says three applications might be needed, which would raise the cost.

The cleaner worked well, getting us back to black quite quickly. The proofer incorporates ceramic ingredients, and the result was very impressive – a great first-time performance and far better than its predecessor.

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Buy now from Turtle Wax

Protex Canvas Cleaner and Waterproofer

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Like Gtechniq and Turtle Wax, Protex has also made some changes to the chemical make-up of the cleaner. As before, the twin trigger pack comes with a large stiff brush, two soft versions and a microfibre cloth, which makes it good value.

The cleaning ability was better than last time, although stains still needed some scrubbing. Proofer application was pretty conventional and the results were good without being outstanding. But these scores on both practical tests, along with decent value for money, keep it near the top.

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BAS Hood Cleaning Kit

  • Price: Around £15 (2x 250ml)  
  • Contact: car-hood.co.uk
  • Rating: 4/5 stars

The BAS’s price is good, but the twin packs are just 250ml apiece and most owners will need to get at least two of each. We liked the rough sponge supplied, which provided extra cleaning action, although we preferred to use a paintbrush for getting into the seams.

After letting the product soak in and wiping it off, the cleaning results were good, particularly on a mildew-stained area. The proofer was just as easy to apply and at the end of the test, there was reasonable beading, but it had fallen behind the new Gtechniq and Turtle Wax.

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Autoglym Convertible Soft Top Clean & Protect Kit

  • Price: Around £34 (2x 500ml)  
  • Contact: autoglym.com
  • Rating: 3.5/5 stars
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Autoglym’s twin-pack kit remains unchanged and includes cleaning and Soft Top Protector applicator sponges. As with some other cleaners, the roof has to be dampened first before cleaning it and then applying half the proofer. We found the cleaning performance good, notably where there was some difficult mildew.

The proofer performance was reasonable and it beaded well at the start, although it didn’t seem to stay the course as well as our top two. Even at this price (which we found at Halfords), it was one of the more expensive products, which hurt its overall score. 

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Car Gods 54 Helios Soft Top Cleaner and Water Seal

  • Price: Around £23 (2x 500ml) 
  • Contact: cargods.com
  • Rating: 3.5/5 stars

The price is right with the Car Gods, because it’s one of the cheapest offerings, albeit with no brushes or cloths. Naming the cleaner and proofer Pontus and Helios respectively is a bit unusual, although they are used in a conventional way, and we applied the cleaner to a dry hood. This worked well, but we had to scrub hard on some staining.

After applying the proofer with a brush to make sure we got into the seams, we found the performance similar to the Autoglym, repelling water well at the start, but fading towards the end of the test. 

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Pro-Keen Soft Top Cleaner

  • Price: Around £14 (750ml) 
  • Contact: prokleen.co.uk
  • Rating: 3.5/5 stars

As the name suggests, the Pro-Kleen is a stand-alone cleaner with no proofing option. This meant it wasn’t as good value as the twin-pack products we tried. It was one of those that required a damp surface before application.

We applied the cleaner, letting it stand for three minutes before agitating with a brush and rinsing it off. The result was very good, nearly up to the standard of the Gtechniq. It’s a shame there wasn’t a proofer to match, but even so, it’s well worth a look if you just need a cleaner.

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Sonax Soft Top & Fabric Waterproofer

  • Price: £20.16 (300ml)  
  • Contact: sonax.co.uk
  • Rating: 3/5 stars

This is the only aerosol here, producing a mousse-like foam that we wiped on with the double-sided (one hard side, one soft) sponge provided. It took a little practice to prevent getting too much out, but it was easy to work into the ‘grain’ of the hood, using a brush to push it right into the seams. The result was well above average, but being just a proofer and only 300ml makes it very expensive. 

Buy now from Sonax

Never mind keeping the roof clean, why not just buy a new convertible? Read our best convertibles article here.

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