Just like any other vehicle, Jeep Wrangler soft-top models need regular cleaning. However, not everyone has the time or resources to do it themselves, especially during the winter season. The question is, can these delicate soft tops survive a high-powered car wash?
It’s Not a Good Idea to Take Your Jeep Wrangler Soft-Top Through an Automatic Car Wash
Going through an automatic car wash with a Jeep Wrangler soft-top is not recommended. The harsh brushes and chemical cleaners used can easily damage the plastic windows and the top itself. Instead, it’s better to opt for a touchless car wash.
Are Touchless Car Washes Safe for Soft-Top Jeep Wranglers?
One of the safest options for cleaning a Jeep Wrangler soft-top is a “touchless” car wash. These car washes eliminate the risk of damage from brushes.
Some car washes use nonabrasive roller brushes made of cotton cloth, but they can still pose a danger by collecting dust and small rocks. That’s why touchless car washes, which don’t use brushes at all, are safer.
How Do Touchless Car Washes Work?
Instead of brushes, touchless car washes use high-pressure water to clean the vehicle’s surfaces. Although they still use chemical cleaning solutions, reputable services use safer products. Without brushes, there is a lower risk of paint chipping or fraying.
During the process, a little water may enter your vehicle, especially if you have a soft-top. However, this is entirely normal. Hard-top Jeep Wranglers are designed to handle strong water jets from different angles.
Additional Benefits of Touchless Car Washes
In addition to powerful water sprays and chemicals, touchless car washes employ strong air pressure to dry the vehicle quickly, minimizing water spots. Optional services may include wheel cleaning and wax application, which may cost extra but can be worth the investment.
We highly recommend waxing, especially for black Jeep Wranglers. Black vehicles can be challenging to maintain, and regular waxing can help protect and enhance their appearance.
Touchless Car Washes Have Limitations
While touchless car washes are safe and efficient, they may not be as effective in cleaning heavily soiled vehicles. Dried mud, for example, may be difficult to remove with only water and chemical sprays. If you’re willing to wait longer, consider car wash services that offer hand-washing. These manual services are even safer than touchless ones and may include an automatic dryer to reduce waiting time. Rest assured, soft-top Jeep Wranglers can handle powerful air pressure.
In general, it’s best to choose car washes where trained employees operate the process, especially for soft-top vehicles. Some automatic car wash services still have staff members who will assist you from start to finish. With their help, you can ensure that nothing bad will happen to your vehicle. Feel free to ask them to lower the water pressure and inquire about the chemical products they use.
However, if you have the time and resources, it’s always recommended to wash your soft-top Jeep Wrangler yourself. You can use a home pressure washer and microfiber towels for a thorough clean. You may also gently brush the soft top. Car wash services should be considered when you don’t have the time or if the weather conditions are unfavorable.
How to Clean a Jeep Soft-Top: A Step-by-Step Guide
Since a DIY wash is safer and more effective, here’s a simple guide on how to clean your Jeep Wrangler soft-top efficiently. We’ll also provide instructions for cleaning the windows. You can complete the entire process in just 25 minutes.
How to Clean the Soft Top
- Use a high-powered hose or pressure washer two feet away to remove grime from the soft top and wet the fabric for soaping without damaging it.
- Apply car shampoo to the entire soft top.
- Use a brush typically used for cleaning car interiors to rub the surfaces in straight motions. For deep stains, use a harder brush.
- Clean the seams and corners with the other end of the brush to remove any remaining dirt.
- Rinse the soft top thoroughly.
- Absorb excess water by pressing a polyvinyl or rayon towel onto one section at a time to prevent mold. Avoid using paper or terry towels, as they can leave residues.
- Leave your Jeep to air-dry in a warm location.
- Before waterproofing, seal the soft top’s seams or edges by using masking tape.
- Shake the hydrophobic protective solution can (30 seconds for canvas solution, 10 seconds for vinyl).
- Spray the solution all over the soft top, eight inches away, in straight motions to fully protect it from mold. Repeat this process three times, allowing a 10-minute interval between each layer to keep the surface dry.
- Wipe the vehicle’s body with a pre-wax cloth in case the solution spreads.
- Thoroughly dry the sections after the solution sets by blotting them with a microfiber, polyvinyl, or rayon towel.
How to Clean the Windows
- Apply a safe cleaning solution (avoid ammonia, alcohol, and furniture polish) to the windows.
- Use a damp, folded microfiber towel to wipe the windows in straight motions, using each side of the towel to prevent spreading dirt.
- For a shinier finish, use another microfiber towel with a plastic repairing solution and rub it on the newly cleaned windows.
- Gently press another microfiber towel on moist sections to dry them out.
- Spray a sealing solution on the windows to protect them from sunlight, rain, and other weather conditions.
- Wait for at least five minutes before wiping the solution off with another microfiber towel.
What Is the Best Soft Top for a Jeep Wrangler?
If your soft top is severely damaged and beyond repair, it’s an opportunity to buy a better one! When choosing a new soft top, consider the material as it is crucial for durability. Here are the best materials for soft-top Jeep Wranglers:
Twill is the best material for soft-top Jeep Wranglers due to its thickness and durability. It weighs an average of 30 ounces, ensuring a quiet ride. Twill is even used in some luxury sedans because of its high quality and insulation properties. The fabric is flexible, preventing rips and creases. However, it is more expensive than other materials.
Vinyl is a thinner material, weighing only 18 ounces. It has a classic look and is resistant to ultraviolet rays and other conditions. Although riding with vinyl can be noisy due to increased wind and traffic sounds, it is easier to clean and dries quickly.
Denim, when coated with vinyl to resist mildew, can also be a suitable material for soft tops. It is a combination of polyester and cotton, making it durable and breathable. Compared to vinyl, denim is thicker, providing a more attractive appearance and less noise.
Sailcloth weighs an average of 28 ounces, making it quieter than vinyl and denim. It consists of three layers, usually two layers of vinyl for weather resistance and an inner layer of cotton, polyester, or denim. The combination of materials makes sailcloth more expensive but offers excellent durability.
Letting a car wash clean your Jeep Wrangler soft-top is not recommended. However, if you can’t wash it yourself, find a reliable service that specializes in touchless or hand car washes rather than automatic ones with large brushes. Brushes, regardless of their bristle type, can hold debris that can damage tops and windows. While all car wash services use chemical cleaners, the risk is lower with touchless and hand car washes.
If your soft top is damaged, consider investing in a new one with a more durable material. Twill and sailcloth are the best options due to their thickness, while vinyl and denim are more affordable but thinner.
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