How to Clean Your SUV Roof: Simple and Effective Tips

  • By: Sean Cooper
  • Date: September 30, 2022
A safe platform for accessing those hard-to-reach areas like the roof

Keeping your car clean and tidy is not always an easy task, especially if you own an SUV or a similarly large vehicle. That’s because these types of cars have several hidden areas that are difficult to reach. For example, the roof can be hard to clean thoroughly, especially if it’s particularly tall or you are a little vertically challenged. Of course, the roof is almost always covered with dirt. In this post, we will tell you how to clean your SUV roof in a simple, safe, and effective way.

The best way to reach and clean those out-of-reach places in the middle of your SUV roof is with a ladder or some other type of safe raised platform. However, if you don’t have anything like that available, the best way to extend your reach is to open a door and stand on the sill.

What You Need to Clean Your SUV Roof

The first step to cleaning your SUV roof properly is to gather the right cleaning supplies. You’ll need a squeegee (or a sponge) for clearing water from the roof and a durable brush or sponge for getting rid of any dirt or grime on the car’s surface. Additionally, you may want to have a few rags on hand for drying the car afterward.

The real problem is removing stubborn stains and other marks from your roof, such as bird droppings or tree sap. In a previous life, I used to be an area manager for a cleaning company. Even then, there were some amazing products that were abrasive enough to remove tree sap, bird dropping, or other stubborn dirt, but without any worry about scratching your clear coat or paint.

You could use a long-handle brush with soft bristles to clean those hard-to-reach bits in the center of your SUV’s roof. That might not be enough to remove really stubborn, baked-on filth, however, so nothing beats being able to get to it with your hand and some form of non-abrasive scrubber or cloth.

How to Clean Your SUV Roof

How To Clean Grill Scraper? 8 Super...
How To Clean Grill Scraper? 8 Superb Ways To Do It

Cleaning your SUV roof is essential to keeping your car in good condition. First, remove any roof rack or roof boxes, and then rinse the roof with water to remove excess dirt and debris before using a soft brush to get rid of loose dirt that doesn’t rinse away. Next, wash the roof with car shampoo and water.

You can clean the roof with the squeegee, which will remove any soap left behind. You can also clean the windows with a squeegee, which will ensure that they are completely clean and free of any streaks. Be sure to use a squeegee that has a firm rubber blade to prevent any scratches on the glass. You can also use it to remove hardened dirt that soap and water aren’t budging.

Of course, the problem is always going to be reaching the center of the roof, especially if you have something as massive as a Suburban, Tahoe, or Escalade. The way I clean the middle of my SUV roof is to open a door and stand on the sill.

For safety, I hang on to the interior grab handle with the hand I’m not using for cleaning. Fortunately for me, I’m about six-foot tall and that allows me to reach the whole roof in this way. If I had a full-size SUV like a Suburban, even I might not be able to reach the middle of the roof by standing on the door sills.

If that’s the situation you find yourself in, it’s time to resort to some steps or a ladder. I’d strongly advise against a simple ladder that you’d lean up against the vehicle like you would against a wall. That’s a recipe for disaster that could damage your vehicle at best, or slip and injure you at worst.

Telescopic mop

Why a Dirty SUV Roof is bad

As we’ve already mentioned, the roof of your SUV is the most difficult part to clean. The roof often collects a large amount of dirt and grime, and you can’t get to it with your arm and a sponge. If you don’t clean the roof, this dirt and grime will accumulate on your vehicle and cause damage.

As time passes, this dirt will get baked onto the paint, and it will be difficult or even impossible to remove it. If you have a black SUV, you may not even notice this damage until it’s too late. At that point, you may have to repaint the entire vehicle, which can be very expensive.

Your roof also takes the brunt of the power from the sun because it’s directly exposed to the sky and as the highest part of your vehicle, it’s closest to the sun. You might think a couple of feet closer to a celestial body that’s 93 million miles away won’t make any difference. Try going out on a red-hot, sun-baked day in direct sunlight for a few hours without a hat and see how your head fares worse than your feet!

Tips for a Good SUV Roof Cleaning

  • Wear protective clothing – While cleaning the vehicle, you may get some dirt or soapy water on yourself. Make sure you’re wearing clothing that can protect you from these substances. –
  • Wash the roof last – After you’ve cleaned the rest of the car, move on to the roof. This way, you’ll avoid getting the roof dirty while washing the rest of the car. –
  • Use eco-friendly products – When choosing an SUV roof cleaner, make sure it’s eco-friendly and suitable for all types of vehicles. Some authorities can be very strict on what chemicals can go down the drain, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Dry the roof thoroughly – After you’ve cleaned the roof, make sure to dry it thoroughly. Otherwise, the water may leave stains on the paint.
  • Stay safe – Don’t be tempted to over-reach, especially if you are using steps or a ladder. You might think a slip and fall from a couple of feet isn’t a big deal. But fall the wrong way and bang your head on the way down, and the consequences can be literally catastrophic.


Cleaning your car regularly is a must and can extend the lifetime of your vehicle. A clean car is not only more pleasant to ride in but also easier to maintain, and your efforts will always be reflected in the eventual resale price.

When you clean the roof of your vehicle, you’re removing dirt and grime that would otherwise bake onto the paint, eventually causing serious damage to the paintwork. Remember to clean your car at least twice a year at the very least, or once every couple of weeks if you park under trees where tree sap and bird dropping are a constant issue.

Use a good quality car cleaner to get rid of stubborn spots, like bird droppings and tree sap, but make sure that however you reach the middle of the roof, you do it in a safe way.