Roof Box Cleaning Tips

Roof Box Cleaning Tips: Common Sense And Preparation

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So you have invested hundreds of dollars into a roof cargo box to help you carry your belongings. You may be wondering about the best ways to keep your box in tiptop condition for the years ahead.

Look no further because at RoofBoxDude we have you covered. Here are some great tips on keeping your roof box clean and tidy.

Rooftop Cargo Box Cleaning Guide

Can I Just Take It To The Car Wash?

We would suggest that is an option best avoided for a number of reasons which are explained in more depth in this article: Can I use a car wash with a roof box in place?

Hand washing your car and cargo box is the best option for the long-term protection of both your paintwork and your cargo box.

You should also check the documentation that came with your roof box to see what the manufacturer recommends for cleaning.

Remove The Box

You will find it easier to clean your box if your first remove it from your vehicle. If you try to clean it while still in place then you will probably need ladders to reach the top, particularly for larger vehicles.

Start With A Rinse And Snow Foam

The very first thing I do when washing my car is to give it a quick rinse using my pressure washer on a very low setting to avoid any paintwork damage. It’s best to be just as careful with your cargo box if you intend to try using a pressure washer although many manufacturers probably suggest doing a hand wash.

I then use a snow foam attachment to cover the car and leave it to work its magic for a few minutes before rinsing off again on a low-pressure setting!

If you’re planning to stick to a hand wash then you can skip this step.

Apply A Cleaner

You need to use some form of cleaning agent to remove the dirt and grime from your box. Avoid using anything too strong that is going to damage the surface of your box. Try to stick to products that are used on the paintwork of a car. That is probably more likely to be damaged by harsh chemicals than the plastic used to construct your roof box.

Any general-purpose car shampoo should do the job but don’t underestimate dish soap.

If you don’t have anything specific to hand then you could just use soap and water with a decent helping of elbow grease. Indeed Yakima recommends using only soapy water (dish soap) as anything stronger might damage the ABS plastic that the box is made from.

Towel Off The Dirt

If you have done any car detailing or researched the best way to clean your car then you’ll know that the equipment you use and the way you use it will determine how likely you are to damage the paintwork. Don’t pick up any old piece of cloth and use that to wipe down your cargo box. You may end up damaging the surface or leaving bits of lint all over the box making it look untidy.

Amazon Product Image mitts
Amazon Product Image towels

Just as with your paintwork you should be using microfiber towels or mitts. I tend to use a mitt for washing and towels for drying. These are super absorbent and lint-free. It’s also important to try to use the mitt/towel in an up-and-down or a side-to-side motion. Try to avoid rubbing in a circular motion as this will lead to more visible damage to the box.

This is just the same as cleaning the paintwork on your vehicle. Most experts tend to prefer using a straight line motion rather than a circular one.

The reason is that the scratches are caused by picking up contaminants from other parts of the vehicle surface on your towel. These bits of dirt are then moved over an area that was already relatively clean. It is for this reason you should always start by cleaning the roof of your vehicle working down and leaving the lower portions of the vehicle to last. I go so far as having three separate cleaning mitts. One for the roof and windows, one for the bonnet and upper portion of the side panels. Finally one for the lower section of the side panels and the front and rear of the vehicle.

Depending on how keen you are to protect your box you can go to as much trouble as you see fit.

Rinse The Box

You need to give your box a rinse-off to remove any remaining cleaning chemicals and dirt. A garden hose should do this quite well or you could use a pressure washer on a very low setting.

If you are cleaning your box while it is still sitting on top of your car then of course you will now be realizing that all the dirt and road grime that was on your roof box has ended up on the roof and sides of your car! In an ideal world, I would always remove a roof box before cleaning it particularly if you place any value in the paintwork of your car.

Wipe It Dry

A step that many people probably miss out on when cleaning their car as well! Take a clean microfiber towel and wipe down the box so that is it is dry. You should leave it standing out for a while if you can before storing it away to make sure that it is completely dry.

You should pay particular attention to any metal fittings making sure that they are completely dry in order to prevent rusting.

Treat Your Box

If you take a lot of trips in a hot, sunny climate then over time the plastic material used to make your box will almost certainly start to fade due to UV damage. You could try treating it with a color restorer like Polytrol if you want to bring it back closer to its original condition. Make sure that your box is completely dry before attempting to treat it though.

On the Yakima forum, they recommend ArmorAll as a preventative measure.

Amazon Product Image polytrol Amazon Product Image protectant

Store The Box

Having put all that time and effort into cleaning your storage box you should now put it away somewhere that is going to protect it from the elements.

Most people will use a garage or shed. It is possible to fit a hoist system to the roof of your garage that would allow you to store your box in an out-of-the-way place. Most people will probably find that it is simpler and a lot cheaper to hang their box on a wall.

If you are not going to be needing it for a while then you may want to cover it to give it some added protection using some form of plastic sheeting.

Roof Box Cleaning Tips: Summary

As the old saying goes “those that fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Cleaning a roof cargo box but is really just using common sense and making sure you have the correct equipment for the job. You wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer in a nail. Would you?

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]

Can You Polish A Roof Box?

Yes. Use wax or polish that is intended for plastic. SkiGuard are manufacturers of roof cargo boxes and they recommend treating your roof box every 12 months.

Can You Take A Thule Box Through Car Wash?

No. You should not be taking a roof box through a car wash for many reasons.

Do Roof Racks Scratch Your Car?

If they are correctly fitted then no, they shouldn’t damage your vehicle. If they have been loosely fitted or overtightened then that is likely to cause problems along with overloading.

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