Just like any other vehicle, Jeep Wrangler soft-top models require a good scrubbing once in a while. However, some people just don’t have the time, energy, or resources to do that themselves, especially during the winter season. Since soft tops can be delicate, can they survive a high-powered car wash?
Going through an automatic car wash with a Jeep Wrangler soft-top is not a good idea. Dirty brushes and chemical cleaners can easily ruin plastic windows and, of course, the top itself. Instead, use a touchless car wash.
However, there are ways for a car wash to be safe for Jeep Wrangler soft-top vehicles. Read on to learn more about them.
Can You Take a Soft-Top Jeep Wrangler Through a Car Wash?
One of the safest types of car washes for Jeep Wrangler soft-tops is the “touchless” kind. The risk of debris from brushes is virtually nonexistent this way.
Some auto car washes are proud of their nonabrasive roller brushes made of cotton cloth, but they can still pose a danger due to the possibility of dust and tiny rocks getting stuck on the fibers. That’s why it’s safer if there are no brushes at all.
Touchless Car Wash
Instead of brushes, high-pressure water hits the dirty surfaces of the vehicle in a touchless car wash. Even though alkaloid, colored, or scented chemical cleaning solutions are still being used, at least reliable services opt for safer products. Without brushes, there’s a lower risk of chipping or fraying paint.
Just don’t be surprised if a little bit of water enters your vehicle during the whole process. That’s entirely normal for a soft-top car. Hard-top Jeep Wranglers are the ones made for strong water jets at different angles.
Strong Air Pressure
In addition to powerful water sprays and chemicals, a standard touchless car wash also uses strong air pressure to dry the vehicle quickly. This can prevent distracting water spots.
Meanwhile, optional services include cleaning the wheels and applying wax. You have to pay a bit more money, but the result is worth it.
We highly recommend waxing, especially on black Jeep Wranglers. Black can be a challenging color to maintain in terms of owning a vehicle.
Touchless Not as Effective
Even though touchless car washes are safe and efficient, it turns out that they’re not really effective at cleaning dirtier vehicles. Dried mud may be trickier to remove with only water and chemical sprays present.
If you’re willing to wait longer, you may try car wash services that offer simple hand-washing. They’re even safer than the touchless version. Some of those services also provide an automatic dryer so you won’t have to wait too long for them to get the job done. Don’t worry; soft-top Jeep Wranglers can handle powerful air pressure.
In general, it’s best to go to car washes with actual people operating the process if you have a soft-top. Some automatic services still have staff that will assist you from start to finish. With employees involved in the process, you get to make sure that nothing bad will happen to your vehicle. You can ask them to lower the water pressure and even inquire about the chemical products they use.
Also, don’t rely on car washes. Wash your soft-top Jeep Wrangler yourself with a home pressure washer and microfiber towels. You may gently brush the soft top. Just pay for services if you don’t have the time or if it’s too cold outside.
What Can I Use to Clean My Jeep Soft-Top?
Since a DIY wash is much safer and more effective than any other method, we’re giving you some tips on how to do it efficiently. Later on, we’re also going to teach you how to clean the windows. You can finish the entire process in only 25 minutes.
How to Clean the Soft Top
- Use a high-powered hose or a pressure washer (view on Amazon) two feet away to remove grime from the soft top and make the whole fabric wet for soap without damaging the material.
- Cover the soft top with car shampoo.
- Rub the surfaces in straight motions with a brush typically used for cleaning the car’s interior (use a harder brush for deep stains).
- Clean the seams or corners with the other end of the brush to successfully remove gunk.
- Rinse the soft top.
- Absorb excess water by pressing a polyvinyl or rayon towel one section at a time to lower the risk of mold (don’t use paper, terry, and brand-new microfiber towels for they can leave residues).
- Leave your jeep to air-dry somewhere warm.
- Before waterproofing, seal the seams or edges of the soft top by putting masking tape.
- Shake the hydrophobic protective solution can (30 seconds for a 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 (do it three times but set a 10-minute interval to keep the surface dry for another layer).
- 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
- Coat the windows with a safe cleaning solution (avoid ammonia, alcohol, and furniture polish).
- Move a damp, folded microfiber towel in straight motions while wiping the windows (use each side of the towel to prevent spreading dirt).
- Use another microfiber towel with a bit of plastic repairing solution and rub it on the newly cleaned windows for a shinier finish.
- Gently press another microfiber towel on moist sections to dry them out.
- Spray a sealing solution on the windows for protection against 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 the soft top is already damaged beyond repair, look on the bright side–you get to buy a better one! All you need to do is consider the material since it’s the most critical factor in terms of durability. Find out which material is the best for your Jeep Wrangler.
The thicker, the better. That’s why twill is the best material for soft-top Jeep Wranglers. It’s also the heaviest with its average weight of 30 ounces. Don’t worry; this fabric can still maintain quiet rides.
Twill is so special when it comes to quality that it has become a popular material for some luxury sedans. As for jeeps, it’s in-demand because of its insulation and noise-canceling properties.
The fabric is also flexible to prevent rips and creases. The only downside is how expensive it is compared to other materials.
From the thickest material, let’s proceed to the thinnest one. Vinyl only weighs 18 ounces since it’s just glossy plastic. Besides, its underside is only a thin layer of cloth.
The best thing about vinyl, though, is its classic look. Yes, riding with it will be very noisy due to the wind and traffic sound freely entering the passenger compartment. However, it’s still entirely resistant to ultraviolet rays from the sun and other conditions. It’s an excellent option for a traditional off-road vehicle.
Even better, vinyl is easier for DIY washing. It dries quickly.
Interestingly, denim is also an option. However, it’s still coated with vinyl to resist mildew.
Denim can be a material for soft tops since it’s a combination of polyester and cotton, two durable and breathable fabrics. It can be thicker than vinyl, which is ideal for a more attractive appearance and less noise.
With its average weight that almost exceeds twill’s, sailcloth can be an excellent soft top (view on Amazon) for Jeep Wranglers. It usually weighs 28 ounces, which is why it’s quieter than vinyl and denim.
The reason for sailcloth’s generous weight is its three layers. Most of the time, it comes with two layers of vinyl for added weather resistance and an inner layer of cotton, polyester, or denim. The variety of materials in just one fabric makes it expensive.
Letting a car wash clean your soft-top Jeep Wrangler is a bad idea. It’s not recommended at all by auto experts and long-time owners. However, it can be the last resort if you can’t wash it by yourself. You just need to find a reliable service to do it.
Touchless and hand car wash services are safer than automatic ones with big brushes. Brushes, whether they have soft or hard bristles, can hold debris that can ruin tops and windows. All services are risky with their chemical cleaners, but the level of danger is lower with the first two options we’ve mentioned.
If the soft top is finally damaged due to frequent car wash services, choose a new one with more durable material. Twill and sailcloth are the thickest ones, which makes them the best options. On the other hand, vinyl and denim are cheaper, but they’re much thinner, which can be alarming.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.