Tarp Care and Maintenance

Truck covers perform best when basic care and maintenance guidelines are followed. Tarp manufacturers are the best source of information to ensure optimal performance and product life from truck covers. The general care guidelines listed here will extend a truck cover’s service life.

Secure Tie Down

Wind whip is one the most damaging tarp wear factors. A loosely tied down cover can get torn apart. Wind can damage any fabric and can make a vacuum under a loose cover, drawing in dirt and moisture. Winch straps should never be used over the tarp, only over the load.

  • Keep the cover under slight but firm tension. Excess tension puts unnecessary strain on the fabric and tie down points.
  • Rubber straps, elastic shock cord or rope arrangements work as tie downs. Check with the cover manufacturer for correct strap size. Note that when using rubber straps, the hook on one end should either be permanently crimped closed onto the tarp or turned away from the tarp so it does not wear through.
  • Ensure the cover is snug and tie down points are not pulled much lower than the rest of the cover hem. After the cover is securely tied down, the hem should be straight.
  • Tuck corner tabs under the end flap. Loose corner tabs act like scoops and draw dirt and moisture into the load.
  • Use batten ropes to prevent billowing, especially on oddly shaped loads or when the cover is not fitted. Billowing creates wind whip and increases wind drag, reducing fuel efficiency. Some truck covers have webbing to prevent billowing.


Choose the correct cover for the job. Custom designed covers are great for their intended uses, but may perform poorly in other applications.


Pad sharp corners and edges on the load. New fabrics resist tearing and rubbing, but precautions are still necessary. Premium materials are not required. Pieces of foam, batting, cardboard, or carpet pad all work well.


Keep covers reasonably dry. Most fabrics are water-repellant and mildew resistant, but covers should be stored as dry as possible. Where condensation is a problem, it is better to store covers on wood pallets rather than floors. Store canvas covers with special care, since cotton fibers absorb water.


Install and remove covers carefully. Overhead cranes may damage tarps. Be wary if a colleague insists on using an overhead crane.


Keep covers reasonably clean. New fabrics are designed to resist dirt and clean easily. Caked-on grime can eventually shorten a cover’s service life as well as add weight to a tarp. Some pollutants and chemicals can build up on the cover, degrading certain coatings and fibers. The usual recommended cleaning interval is between three and six months. Harsh cleaning solutions can degrade the special properties of the cover fabric. Check with the cover manufacturer before using cleaner stronger than soap and water. A good truck cover will last for many years, but normal use will eventually show on any cover.