No matter where you drive, your Jeep’s soft top is sure to get dirty. Although some Jeep enthusiasts prefer the versatility of a soft top compared to a hard top, you can’t treat it like the roof of any other vehicle. It presents unique challenges that require specific care for long-lasting durability.
Though the Wrangler JL has a range of different top types , the soft top is still the base option and a popular choice. It just takes a bit more care to make sure it holds up over the years. Whether you have a JL or JK Wrangler or a JT Gladiator, cleaning and preserving the soft top is important for both function and looks.
General Recommendations for Jeep Soft Top Care
Whether you’re on the highway or a muddy trail, your Jeep’s top will be vulnerable to things like dirt, debris, bird droppings, and the sun.
The sun will be one of your worst enemies over the long haul. If you can, store your Jeep in a shady area or garage to avoid UV ray damage over time. Just try not to park under trees. Resins, sap, and bird droppings can be major trouble for your soft top over time. Winters and/or ocean air can be especially harsh for your soft top, too. You should consider switching to a hardtop during the cold months to make it easier to clean salt and grime off.
Depending on conditions, we recommend washing it once a month, or at least every 2-3 months if you have to.
Vinyl and cloth Jeep soft tops will require slightly different cleaning products. While they can typically be cleaned in a similar way, you should use a vinyl-specific protectant for those types of tops. Remember to follow the instructions in the owner’s manual of your specific model.
What Not to Do When Cleaning Your Soft Top
Before we get into how to clean your Jeep’s soft top, it’s important to note the things that you should never do to your rig’s roof.
- Don’t use hot wax or high-pressure washers.
- Don't go through an automatic car wash.
- Don’t use any harsh cleaners or bleaching agents. Avoid using alcohol, ammonia, vinegar, or any abrasives.
Best Cleaner for Jeep Soft Top
The Bestop cleaning set is one of the best soft top cleaner choices for your Jeep Wrangler or Gladiator. With three specially-designed products in one box, it will allow you to easily clean and protect your Jeep.
Since Bestop is the manufacturer of the factory Jeep soft top, it’s clear they know how to care for it. This kit works great for the base soft top of the JK and JL Wrangler. However, for the twill Premium Sunrider tops, you’ll want to use specialized products.
How to Clean a Jeep Soft Top
We’ll be using the instructions provided in the Jeep Wrangler JL owner’s manual, as well as directions from Bestop. Be sure to follow the specific instructions of the cleaning products that you use.
If there’s anything on your roof (branches, pinecones, surfboards), get them off of there first. If you end up with lots of debris on your roof for some reason, you can even use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment before washing.
If there’s stubborn lint that doesn’t want to come off or is clinging, a regular clothing lint roller will help.
You’ll get the best results from cleaners in warmer weather. Bestop says 54F or warmer is ideal.
Step One: Rinse Off Your Soft Top
Just like washing any other part of a car, you’ll want to give it a generous rinsing. It’s best to wash your soft top in a non-sunny area so that the cleaners don’t dry out before you can rinse them off.
Your top can handle a little bit of the old H2O, just don’t blast it with a power washer. Jeep recommends against using any power washers of 1,200 PSI or higher on the Wrangler’s body. We recommend being even more prudent with the soft top.
Step Two: Apply Cleaning Products and Gently Scrub
Use a non-detergent soap designed for soft tops. Bestop offers great products, but you can select any auto shampoo that’s designed for fabric tops.
Use a soft bristle brush for your top. Clean with gentle motions, you don’t need to aggressively scrub. A brush will work better than a cloth, which can leave lint behind.
If you need extra cleaning for a stubborn spot, you can use a mild foaming cleaner while supporting the top from underneath. While it’s not recommended due to the potential for damage, a stiffer bristle brush can be used if absolutely necessary for a bad stain.
Step Three: Rinse Again
Like you’re giving your Jeep a shower, you want to thoroughly rinse all of the cleaning agents off of it.
Step Four: Dry Your Soft Top
You can use a microfiber towel to dab off large areas of water. Use a pressing technique as opposed to just wiping across.
After that, you’re ok air-drying your top by leaving your Jeep outside for a bit. Just don’t put the top down before it has fully dried or mildew may form.
Step Five: Add Jeep Soft Top Protectant
Cleaning your soft top regularly is a great way to keep it free of damaging particles. But adding a protectant will help ensure longevity and give your roof some shielding from the elements and UV rays. Plus, it will repel dust and mildew, making it tougher for your top to get dirty in the first place!
Simply rub it on your soft top with a clean dry cloth after you’ve washed it. Avoid getting protectant on your windows as it can damage the material.
How to Clean Jeep Soft Top Windows
Cleaning your Jeep’s soft top windows will require some different care than either your glass windows or your top itself. These vinyl windows are susceptible to damage if you use the wrong product, so we recommend specialized cleaners. Bestop’s vinyl window cleaner and polish is an ideal choice.
Step One: Rinse Off Your Windows
In a shady area, use cool or cold water to thoroughly rinse off your windows. Wipe all the dirt and debris off with a clean cloth.
Step Two: Apply Jeep Soft Top Window Cleaner
Apply your chosen window cleaner with a microfiber towel like you’re using a buff or wax. Gently rub it into the windows with a circular motion. Try not to get it on the soft top material itself, but no worries if you do. It’ll wipe off easily.
Step Three: Wipe & Polish Windows
Wait for the cleaner to dry, and then wipe away the remnants with a clean microfiber cloth. Circular wiping motions will help leave the windows looking polished and gleaming.
Enjoy Your Clean Soft Top
Cleaning your Jeep will protect it for years to come. You’ll prevent holes and sun damage from developing, meaning it will look good and work well. While a freshly-washed roof is a great start, adding a protectant product is an even better way to prevent fade and keep it looking clean. While keeping it in the garage is ideal for longevity, remember that your Jeep is built for getting out there. Don’t be afraid to get dirty!
Sources: Convertible Top Cleaning and Conditioning, Guide to Detailing | How Do I Clean and Care for My Soft Top, Bestop | A Collection of Tips to Clean and Care for Your Jeep Soft Top, Windows and Zippers, Jeep Funtimes Guide
This article was researched, written, edited, and reviewed following the steps outlined in our editorial process. Learn more about CJ's editorial standards and guidelines.