Cleaning your Jeep Wrangler Exterior is a topic that will elicit gut wrenching reactions from both sides of the spectrum. Some feel that the Jeep Wrangler is an offroad vehicle, and that the mud and dirt collected on the Jeep belongs there. I think they have a point, and it still looks great! However, this article will focus on WHY clean your Jeep, WHAT products you can use, HOW to do it, and IF you were to practice the art of cleaning your Jeep, the possible outcomes for you in the long run.
DISCLAIMER: Any and all content provided on this site and YouTube channel is Cheaper JeeperTV’s opinion and for educational and discussion purposes only. Seek a professional’s advice where appropriate for your vehicle.
Reasons for Cleaning Your Jeep Wrangler JL
Even though a Jeep Wrangler JL looks as good, if not better, dirty than when it is clean, there are reasons that warrant cleaning your Jeep.
You won’t find many arguments against keeping your Jeep windows clean. At the very least it can be a safety issue.
When the paint is clean, you are able to see damage or scratches in the paint that can be corrected before rust is allowed to take hold. Of course, on the Wrangler JL, this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the doors, hood and tailgate are aluminum.
An obvious example of this would be brake callipers. Mechanical components such as brake callipers will function better and longer if they are kept clean of sand, salt and mud. Furthermore, a more extreme example would be if you take your Jeep off road and through mud. In that scenario, the radiator is definitely a component of your vehicle that you’ll want to clean, or your engine will overheat, and possibly with catastrophic results.
The engine also falls into this category, and even with this, you will find those who feel you should keep the engine bay clean, and those that say you should leave it alone. Those on the side of the argument of keeping the engine bay clean, will cite reasons such as ease of noticing any leaks, keeping dust and particles off of belts to prolong their performance and life, and some even suggest layers of grease and dirt can cause some items under the hood to not function optimally.
The Satisfaction That Comes From Looking After Your Own Jeep
Pride of ownership is not only another reason to keep your Jeep clean, but also not to keep it clean. Some who offroad, love that they do that with their Jeep, and dirt on the Jeep is a result of it being in its natural environment.
Of course then there are those of us that just love our Jeeps and want to keep every aspect of it in its optimum condition. The following information and this video will explain to those in the latter group how to clean their Jeeps.
What You Need for Cleaning Your Jeep Wrangler JL
The following information is for those interested in the basic steps to follow for cleaning your Jeep Wrangler JL. For those involved in extreme water fording and mudding, further measures would be necessary and are not covered in this article. Before we look at a suggested car wash process, let’s first gather the products and materials that we will use.
Products and Materials Needed
The following materials and products needed to clean your Jeep Wrangler are listed on our Featured Products page and below with an explanation:
A large bucket or pail to hold the car soap and water is necessary. Some people even use a second pail in which to rinse the car wash mitt before dipping it back into the soapy water pail.
Car Wash Soap
Use a specific pH balanced Car Wash Soap. Some people use dish soap, but other’s state it is too harsh on the paint, and any wax products you use can get stripped from the car with dish soap. I usually buy whatever brand is on sale.
Microfibre Hand Wash Mitt or Sheep’s Wool Hand Wash Mitt
When washing the Jeep, using a lush microfiber hand wash mitt or a “genuine” Sheep’s wool hand wash mitt is recommended. These products will hold a lot of the soap and will not impart micro scratches into the clear coat finish on the paint. Be careful not to fall for the synthetic Sheep’s wool mitts, as they will absolutely put scratches into your clear coat finish.
A thick microfibre towel or similar product would be a helpful tool in your arsenal to wipe up any water left on the Jeep after the wash. This will help eliminate water spots on your finish. The product I use which is absolutely amazing is the “Absorber” towel. It effectively absorbs and holds any water, easily wrings out, and does a great job, and quickly
It’s good to have a number of these on hand to clean up any deeply soiled or greasy spots during the car wash process. These can be picked up anywhere and are frequently on sale.
Tire Care Products
There are also many tire care products to clean the rubber of your tires and get them looking nice and black, instead of that faded brownish look they develop after a period of exposure to the sun. The products that people use will have a range of attributes from products that leave the tire shinier than other products, last longer, are more expensive, are easier to apply, etc. The internet is rife with product comparisons. For me the product that leaves my tires looking the way I like, and that lasts fairly long, and is easy to apply is Meguiars Tire Shine Spray.
It isn’t the cheapest tire care product on the shelves, but I haven’t been satisfied with them as much as I am with the McGuire’s product.
Rubber/Plastic/Vinyl Cleaning Product
Any rubber or exterior plastics on your Jeep should be cleaned then treated with some type of Rubber/Plastic/Vinyl cleaning and conditioning product to minimize the degrading effect of the constant bombardment of the sun on these materials. The market is flooded with many products for this purpose, but the one all-purpose product I use, and it is supported by many Jeep, Auto, RV and Marine enthusiasts is 303 Aerospace Protectant.
That’s the singular product that can meet your rubber/plastic/vinyl cleaning and conditioning needs.
Wheel Care Products
Stock wheels(rims) on a Jeep Wrangler are often alloy wheels that have been painted and clear coated. Given that, one can simply wash them with the car soap you’ve been using, as the final stage of the car wash process.
Steps for Cleaning Your Jeep Wrangler
When cleaning your Jeep Wrangler, or most cars for that matter, it’s helpful to follow a simple plan that involves a few simple logical steps.
- Wash from the top down and underneath, leaving the wheels for last
- Dry the Jeep to eliminate water marks
- Clean & treat the plastics, vinyl, rubber and wheels
- Apply wax or sealant.
- Remove car mats and clean & condition them
- Vacuum the interior
- Clean & condition the plastics
- Clean the windows
What You Get IF You Regularly Clean Your Jeep
Ultimately, by regularly keeping your Jeep clean, you will attain satisfaction by knowing that your Jeep will be; i) easier to reclean, ii) has paint and body being maintained in good condition, iii) has clean, properly maintained, longer lasting mechanical components, which will iv) leave more money left in your pocket at the end of the day as a result. Your interior will be able to be maintained in nicer condition, the Jeep will have a higher resale value, will be easier to resell.
By regularly cleaning your Jeep, the money you saved fixing or repairing items from neglect can be spent on… say… other things for your Jeep?