Tarp systems can protect your truck's cargo from the elements, but regular cleaning is vital, especially if the material is susceptible to mold. Mold can easily build up on a tarp system over time, and, left untreated for long enough, these unsightly marks can also rot or degrade the material underneath. As such, it's important to regularly clean mold off your tarp system before it becomes a problem, but it's equally vital to avoid the three following mistakes that could cause damage or just make the job harder.
Failing to dry the tarp out first
Mold is a living micro-organism. There are more than 100,000 species of mold, and while the organisms come in various shapes, sizes and colors, all mold species thrive in damp conditions. As such, rainwater, frost, condensation and other types of moisture gathered on your tarp can create a haven for many species of mold, which will also feed off tiny particles of dirt and debris.
If you notice mold on your tarp system, it's important to let the protective cover dry out before you clean it. Where possible, lay the tarp out in bright sunshine, and let the sun kill off as much of the mold growth as possible. Some types of mold will simply brush off the tarp when dead, and if you can kill all the micro-organisms off before you start the cleaning process, you'll generally find the process easier.
Using the wrong cleaning products
It's sometimes difficult to know which cleaning products to use when you want to eliminate mold. The problem becomes even more complex when you understand that some over-the-counter mold cleaning products aren't suitable for tarp systems.
Bleach is not normally a suitable cleaning product to use when dealing with mold on a tarp system. Bleach contains various harsh chemicals that can damage the material in your tarp system, and bleach can also permanently remove the color from certain materials. What's more, many over-the-counter products contain bleach, so you should carefully check the ingredients on the label before you use a cleaning product.
Various basic cleaning solutions can often effectively kill and remove mold. For example, a quarter-cup of baking soda mixed with a few cups of white vinegar can effectively tackle a mold problem on your tarp, but if you're dealing with a large tarp system, you may want to buy a specialist tarp cleaner. These products contain a special balance of chemicals that can tackle the mold without damaging the tarp underneath.
Whatever cleaning solution you want to use, you should only ever clean certain tarp systems with cold or cool water. Hot water can easily shrink canvas, which means the cover will no longer adequately protect the vehicle underneath.
Cleaning with too much force
Overzealous cleaning can easily damage a tarp system. Manufacturers use durable, long-lasting materials in tarp systems, but these materials cannot cope with cleaning instruments that are abrasive or simply too rough.
For example, a wire brush may seem like a good way to scrub off stubborn stains and particles, but this sort of cleaning instrument is likely to damage the surface of the tarp. Similarly, power washers can often do the job in the half the time, but a high-pressure setting is often too powerful for the tarp to cope with.
Check the manufacturer's instructions on your tarp system, and follow any directions closely. A broom or brush with soft bristles will probably do the job without any risk that you may damage the tarp material.
Tarp systems carry out a vital role and protect thousands of American trucks. Nonetheless, tarp systems won't last forever if you don't regularly clean off unwanted dirt and mold growth. Talk to a supplier like Glider Systems Inc for more information and advice about how to care for your tarp system.