How to clean the roof of your car

The hardest part of your car to reach, we've found the best way to clean a car roof without buying a set of stilts.

The roof of a car being cleaned

by Ryan Gilmore |

It's quite clear that cars are getting taller. The explosion of SUVs and crossovers means that only the tallest ever see their roof. And while the benefits of the extra space and commanding driving position are clear, the obvious drawback with a taller car is cleaning it can be a bit of a pain, especially if you aren't tall enough to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.

Related: The best quick detailers for keeping your car clean between washes

So whether you own an SUV or are simply a little on the short side, we've found the best ways to reach those hard-to-reach areas without compromising the finished results or potentially damaging your paintwork.

Get yourself a platform

Your best bet for reaching the uppermost parts of your car is to buy a good quality platform. Not only will this make sure you get full coverage when shampooing your roof and help minimise wasted products, but it's the safest way to gain some extra height.

Make sure it has non-slip feet as it needs to remain stable even when the ground is wet. Also think of the logistics, aluminium is lighter to carry but can cost more than a steel example. A carry handle will also be useful but is not a deal-breaker. Finally, think about storing it when not in use, if you're pushed for space look for a shorter platform that'll take up less room.

The platform will also come in handy around the home for DIY as it is effectively a more stable step ladder. It's perfect for redecorating, checking ceiling-mounted alarms and even changing lightbulbs. And while might seem expensive to buy a platform for cleaning, it's a good investment and is a lot safer than using a stool or unturned bucket.

A little tip if you're worried about knocking the platform and potentially scratching your paintwork is to wrap a cloth around the corners. That being said, most quality platforms will have plastic edges that offer protection and shouldn't move if you stand centrally and balance your weight properly.

Werner 79205 Professional Work Platform

Werner 79205 Professional Work Platform
Amazon

View offer

Werner is well-respected when it comes to ladders and work platforms, making this clever option our favourite. It ticks all of our requirements with non-slip feet, a relatively lightweight aluminium design (6.6kg) and carry handle. It folds flat, offers 51cm of extra height and has a maximum weight capacity of 150kg.

Youngman Odd Job Work Platform

Youngman Odd Job Work Platform

View offer

A smaller and slightly cheaper platform Youngman, this is a good choice if you're limited for space. It also offers 51cm of extra height but the platform is smaller. It also lacks a carry handle but at just 4kg, it's very light and easy to transport. It also folds flat when not in use.

The best cleaning tools for your roof

Now you're towering above your car it's time to clean it. Don't be tempted to use one of those long caravan cleaning brushes as the tough bristles will leave nasty scratches. You're far better off buying an extendable microfibre brush that'll wash your car effectively without damaging the paint.

It's also worth remembering not to lean over the car too much, not only can the zippers and buckles on your clothing cause scratches, but more importantly you risk losing your balance, falling off the platform and hurting yourself. If you're concerned about scratches, an old apron or even a bin bag will provide some extra protection.

There are no specific cleaning products you'll need for your roof, normal shampoo will be enough in most instances. If you have a glass sunroof you can introduce a glass cleaner if you want, and remember to close it before you start cleaning your car.

GADLANE 2 in 1 Car Wash Brush Microfibre Mitt And Mop

GADLANE 2 in 1 Car Wash Brush Microfibre Mitt And Mop
Amazon

View offer

The softer alternative to the traditional telescopic wash bush, the Gadlane Mitt uses soft chenille microfibres to clean your car much like a wash mitt. The pole can extend to 157cm and the chenille pad can be detached and used as a wash pad. If you're fairly tall, you should be able to clean your roof just using this mitt and pole.

26JPN Double Twist Wash Pad

26JPN Double Twist Wash Pad
Amazon

View offer

Have long arms or a slightly lower car? You may be able to get away with a wash pad. A microfibre wash pad is advantageous over a wash mitt when it comes to the roof as it allows you a little more reach. This option from 26JPN is very soft at 1100gsm and will help lift dirt away from your car without damaging the paint.

Detailers United Hydro Hoover XXL

Detailers United Hydro Hoover XXL
Amazon

View offer

A large drying towel will make drying your roof easier. This ultra-plush towel from Detailers United offers an impressive 1400gsm density, it's really good at absorbing liquids while doing no damage to your paintwork, it can even be used to clean a glass sunroof without doing any damage. It features silk-wrapped edges that again prevent scratches and it's massive at 70 x 90cm, making drying all parts of a roof easy.

Everything you need to know about microfibre towels and car care

The best wet and dry vacuum cleaner for your car and garage

How to properly wash your car

Sign up to the Parkers Newsletter to keep up to date with more of the latest reviews, news, and recommendations from the Parkers team.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us