Jeep owners often prefer the look of a soft-top over a hardtop. This is especially true in the warm months and warmer climates. The problem with a soft top is caring for it, and cleaning it is harder, and more labor-intensive than cleaning and caring for a hardtop.
Prevention is Needed
If you have a soft top then you have to take extra care to prevent some of the dirt and damage that can occur. Your number one soft top enemy is the sun. The ultraviolet rays of the sun will fade your top, cause the material the top is made from to dry-rot and tear easily, and make your Jeep look years older than it is.
To prevent sun damage, you have to store the Jeep in a garage or under a suitable cover that will block the rays of the sun. You do not want to park your vehicle under a tree to reduce sun exposure. Trees drop sap, limbs fall, and do damage. Birds nest in trees and poop on the world below.
The best thing you can do for your soft top is to remove it during the winter. The winter weather is hard on the fabric these tops are made from, and the damages cannot be undone.
How Often Do I Need to Wash My SoftTop?
The soft top requires a lot more care and you are going to need to wash this portion of the Jeep at least once every two to three months. You should not take the vehicle through an automatic car wash while the soft top is in place. You also should not use a high-pressure washer or a high-pressure wand like the ones you find in car washes.
Cleaning Your Soft Top
Before you start to clean the top check it to make sure there are no branches, limbs, or pieces of debris on your vehicle. A lot of people take a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment and they vacuum away small bits of debris and lint before they start to wash. This will assure that you remove anything that could damage your top during the wash.
If you have a lot of lint on your top you can actually use a lint roller like the ones you use to remove pet hair from furniture, or even the ones you use on your clothing.
If the temperature outside is 540 F or lower you do not need to try and wash the top. These tops are easier to clean when the weather is warmer.
Before You Start Cleaning Soft Top (Gather These Supplies)
- Water hose with a spray nozzle
- Sponge or soft bristle brush
- Auto shampoo designed for soft top
- Mild foaming cleansers for use on tough spots
- Slightly stiffer bristle brush for tough stains
- Microfiber towel
- Protectant and soft clean cloth
6 Best Way to Clean Jeep Soft Top
1. Rinse Off the Jeep Soft Top
You need to rinse the top before you begin to wash it. Apply water to the top of the vehicle using a regular water hose. You can use a low-pressure washer as long as the PSI is lower than 1,200. I suggest you just use a traditional garden hose with your normal household pressure.
2. Apply Cleaner
Once the top has been thoroughly wet with the water hose it is time to apply your cleaner. Mix soaps in your bucket and make sure that the cleaner you are using is recommended for use on this type of material.
If you do not have auto shampoo you can use a very mild detergent that has few dyes and no harsh chemicals. Mild dish soap is often used for this purpose.
Apply the cleaner using the sponge. You can use a soft bristle brush to gentle rub the top and make dirt lift away easier.
If you encounter a stain that is hard to remove you can use a mild foaming cleaner and a slightly stiffer brush to scrub this area. Be gentle and scrub only as much as necessary. Stiff bristle brushes can damage the fibers of the top.
NEVER use bleach, vinegar, alcohol, or harsh chemicals to clean the top or the windows. These products will dry out the fabric and cause early deterioration to occur. They can also cause the material to fade, or become weakened to the point that it tears easily. If you do not have the proper cleaners on hand wait until you do have them before you wash the top and windows of the Jeep.
3. Rinse Again
Rinse away the soap from the vehicle. Rinse it carefully and make certain that all soap residue is completely removed.
4. Let’s Dry the Top
You will want to use a microfiber towel and dry the top of the vehicle. You do not rub the towel over the top, but press the towel against the top so it can absorb excess water. The pressing technique allows more water to be removed, and it does not damage the fibers of the material.
Once you are sure you have gotten as much of the excess water off as possible simply allow the top to finish drying in the air. Be sure that you leave the top up so air can get to all of it until it is completely dry. If you let the top down or fold it before it is totally dry then mildew can form and ruin the material.
6. Apply a Protectant
Once the material is 1000 dry it is time for you to apply a protectant. The protectant is applied with a soft clean cloth. It helps to keep the material water-proof, and it helps to reduce the possibility of stains and sun damage. Do not skip the protectant because this substance will increase the life of your top and keep the top looking better for a longer period of time.
4 Easy Steps to Clean Your Jeep Windows
The windows are vinyl and they also require special care and consideration. Do not use regular window cleaner designed for glass on them. They require specialized products formulated for vinyl.
Wash the top of the vehicle before you wash the windows. Your window cleaner has to dry on the vinyl and be buffed off like wax, so it is best to wash the top, let it dry and then work on the windows. If you accidentally get some of your window cleaners on the top you will be able to remove it using a damp sponge and it will not be harmful to the top.
1. Rinse the Windows
Rinse the windows with the garden hose. Never use hot water to wash these windows, and do not take them to the car wash where the water pressure is very high. A garden hose at home is the best idea.
Wipe away any obvious dirt and debris. Wipe gently so the debris and dirt do not scratch or damage the vinyl. Sticks and even dried grass can cause minor scratches and blemishes in your window vinyl. Be gentle, knock the debris loose and flick it away with the towel. Do not apply rubbing pressure while removing loosened debris.
2. Apply Cleaning Products
Apply the cleaner using a clean cloth. You should gently rub the cleaner into the window in a circular motion like you were putting wax on a vehicle.
3. Dry the Window Surface
Allow the cleaner to dry on the window surface. The vehicle needs to not be sitting in the direct sunlight while this product is drying. The sun can cause the product to dry too quickly and then it may be hard to remove it.
4. Use a Clean Dry Cloth
Using a clean dry cloth, you are going to rub the window in a circular motion to buff the cleaner away. Just like you would do if you were waxing a car. You do not need to apply a lot of pressure while you are buffing the cleaner away. A simple firm rubbing motion is going to remove the cleaner and leave the vinyl looking its best.
Although the care of soft tops and vinyl windows is a little more difficult than the care of traditional hardtops and glass, there is no substitute for the appearance of these items. A Jeep with a soft top looks like it is ready to go off-road on any adventure.
Check with your local Jeep dealer and find out what cleaners they recommend for your vehicle. The recommended cleaners may be slightly more expensive than some other products you can buy, but using those recommended products will stop you from doing things like voiding the warranty on the vehicle top.
Hop in your ride and go somewhere! Your top is clean and looking great, but you got a Jeep so you could ride, so you could have the freedom and great experiences. Do not let that beautiful, powerful machine sit in a garage for fear that you will get it dirty. Go get dirty, and then while you clean away the accumulated dirt you can relive every moment of the adventure.