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Cleaning Vinyl & Leather

January 11, 2019 11:27 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

By Bob Chalker

When I made the decision to put a cream colored vinyl top on my MGB, I knew that my nemesis was going to be dirt and that keeping it clean would be an ongoing battle. Up until a couple of weeks ago I had been successfully winning the battle— that is, until I ran into an army of bugs on the way home from the GOF in Waco.  

Upon arriving home, the top had several bug splats, most of which were easily removed with a combination of soap and water, vinyl cleaner, and a little elbow grease; except one, which was a brilliant baby poop yellow. It wasn’t very big, but because of its color and location right dead in the middle, it drew your eye right to it.  

Beyond the cleaning methods already mentioned, I tried just about everything else, even mineral spirits and a lacquer thinner. I bought some expensive cleaner from Amazon that had a 4-1/2 star rating and rave reviews. Nothing worked. In fact, it was getting worse as my efforts just seemed to spread the stain. I was reaching the point where I thought I was just going to have to accept the fact that the top would be discolored. Then I had the most brilliant of ideas: ask my wife Kim. She’ll know what to do. She is the master cleaner. She cleans everything in our home.  

So I trooped into the kitchen, taking off my shoes at the door because she had just cleaned the kitchen floor, and with sadness in my voice shared with Kim my dilemma. She didn’t hesitate. “Did you try coconut oil?” Coconut oil? Who would use coconut oil to clean a car’s vinyl top?  

Well, without much expectation of success, I asked Kim if she had any coconut oil, which, of course, she did. As she handed me the jar, she said, “I use it all the time, even to clean the gummy residue on our suitcases from those stickers the airlines use.” Hmm, maybe she was onto something. So I trod back out to the garage with my spoonful of coconut oil and applied it liberally with my finger. As I rubbed it in, the oil began to melt and the bug guts started to come off as I wiped the area with a wet cloth. With that first application it didn’t get fully clean, but the stain lightened enough to give me hope. So I put on a second application and let it sit overnight. 

The next morning I was out in the garage very early, with my wet cloth in hand and expectations high. As I wiped it down, the stain was almost completely gone. One more application of the coconut oil and— success! You would never know that a bug gave up his life on my cream colored vinyl top.  

Since then I discovered it works well on my leather seats.  Plus I found an article online noting that not only does coconut oil clean the leather safely it also is a natural conditioner. Like all new cleaners it is recommended that you try it in a inconspicuous place first.

Coconut oil is my new favorite cleaner. I just hope Kim keeps the pantry in stock.

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