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Soup it Up: Get that soft-top clean

Larry Edsall
Special to The Detroit News

Whether you believe the calendar when it says it’s still spring, or if you’re already in the swing of summertime, warm weather may mean you’ve taken your convertible out of its winter slumber and returned it to the road for top-down driving.

Before you drop that top, it might be a good idea to take a look at the cloth or vinyl roof and make sure it’s clean.

But how do you clean a convertible, or the vinyl roof on your classic car? Do you use standard car-washing products? Do you apply wax to a soft top?

To erase not only those questions but also dirt and grime and tree sap and bird droppings, Griot’s Garage, the car-cleaning specialist based in Tacoma, Washington, has introduced its Convertible Top Cleaner and Ergo Wave foam scrubber.

“Griot’s Garage Convertible Top Cleaner’s dye-free formula safely and effectively removes contaminants from cloth and vinyl tops, leaving no residue to attract more dust and dirt,” the company promises.

It also notes that there are more uses for this product than car care.

“It is also effective on cloth and vinyl umbrellas and outdoor furniture,” Griot’s adds.

However, the primary purpose is automotive.

“Convertible Top Cleaner maintains your top’s factory appearance and adds a fresh fragrance, enhancing your open-air motoring experience,” the product news release adds.

It was more than 20 years ago that Richard Griot, unhappy with the quality of the products he was buying to clean and care for his own cars, launched Griot’s Garage. Griot had worked as a mechanic at an auto racing school, in real estate and in clothing design and manufacturing, but his father built and sold scientific optical equipment, including lenses for microscopes and telescopes. Those lenses need to be spotless, so Griot’s father had created a solution to clean them.

Combining his own business experience and his father’s chemical formula, Griot started with a product to clean windshields and since then has built a company that produces all sorts of car-care products and accessories.

A label on the 22-ounce spray bottle of convertible top cleaner notes that the product is dye-free and suggests you pre-rinse the top and shake the bottle before misting the product onto the top. Next, you scrub with the foam scrubber or a horsehair brush, and then let the top alone for 5-10 minutes before rinsing.

The bottle of top cleaner retails for $9.99 and the Ergo Wave scrubber, which has three finger holes to ease usage, is $6.99. Griot’s notes that foam scrubber also can be used on plastic, leather, rubber, paint, upholstery, carpet and wheels.

Both products, and other Griot’s Garage products, are available at several car-care retailers, Amazon or through the www.griotsgarage.com website.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at ledsall@cox.net.