how to clean or maintain roof racks - a guide that helps

How to Clean and Maintain Car Roof Racks

Roof racks are car accessories for holding cargo weight above the car roof. If you have car roof racks, you probably need this article to find some tips and methods about cleaning and maintaining roof racks like a pro. After knowing some practical strategies to clean or maintain roof racks, you can make them work better and live longer.

We mainly provide suggestions for cleaning rooftop racks, specifically rooftop crossbars, and you can use these methods to take care of other roof-mounted cargo carriers with your creative cleaning strategies.

If you are new to rooftop cargo carriers, you can return to the home page and use the Informational Articles section to discover more topics relevant to rooftop cargo carriers.

clean and maintain the car roof racks like a pro

Recommended Reading:

Should you use roof racks: this guide tells why you should have rooftop racks on your vehicle and make your outdoor life more enjoyable.

Do and Don’t When using roof racks: if you have roof racks on the car roof, you better follow these tips to learn what you can or cannot do with these rooftop crossbars.

How to choose the best cargo carriers: this content gives information about what to compare and think before choosing a rooftop cargo carrier.

Tips for choosing car racks: an article gives tips and advice for selecting a compatible rack system for carrying different equipment or gear.

How to use roof racks: an article makes you understand the most accurate ways to use rooftop rack systems for transporting different items.

Do roof racks damage your car? An article gives you a clear answer about if roof racks damage your vehicle or not.

General Process:

You can follow the general steps below to clean and maintain the roof racks on your vehicle and keep these car accessories working smoothly and functionally.

  1. Remove the roof racks from your car and put them on a table. You can leave the roof racks on the ground if you cannot find a table.
  2. Prepare everything you need during the cleaning and maintenance. You can find a list of things you may need for the cleaning job.
  3. Wash the roof racks with warm soapy water and gently wipe the joints and all components to remove debris. When you cannot reach a deeper corner on the rooftop racks, you can use a towel to warp the tip of a screwdriver to wipe where your fingers cannot touch.
  4. During the cleaning process, you should check if your rooftop racks have damage and if all parts work fine without potential risks or problems.
  5. After cleaning the roof racks, you should wait until they are dry and apply lubrication oil or powder on joints and components. You can wax the roof racks for better surface protection.
  6. It is time to reinstall the rooftop racks and prepare for the next outdoor adventures.

What you need:

When cleaning or maintaining roof racks, you may require a list of things to simplify the procedure and maximize the effect of results.

Simple Green All-purpose Cleaner

Simple Green All purposes cleaner for cleaning roof racks

It is a perfect solution for people who want to clean their car roof racks. It is easy to use. When applying this spray to your roof racks, you can follow a formula: 1 ounce of Simple Green + 4 Cups of water for the cleaning. This cleaner is not only for rooftop racks but also for furniture, equipment, tires, vehicles, tools, countertops, floors, fabric, and more; however, you must mix the Simple Green with water or add more Simple Green to clean surface with too much grease, sticky stains, dirt, and grime.

You can use it to clean almost all rooftop cargo carriers, including kayak carriers, hardshell roof boxes, cargo baskets, soft cargo bags, bike racks, or hitch-mounted cargo carriers.

303 Marine Aerospace Protectant

303 Surface Protectant For car rofo racks

After cleaning the roof racks, you can apply the 303 Marine Aerospace Protectant to protect the rooftop cargo racks from extreme weather conditions and natural elements. This chemical liquid is suitable for vinyl, leather, plastics, rubber, PVC, and fiberglass. After applying this Protectant to the roof racks, they will become fade-resistant, UV-resistant, and stain-resistant.

TOOENJOY Universal Fit Car Door Step

Car Door Step for loading or unloading roof racks

Car roof racks add extra height above the car roof, so your vehicle will become higher than usual; therefore, when removing, installing, loading, or unloading rooftop racks, you have to stand higher and operate the roof racks above the car roof.

You can use a Car Door Step to stand higher for working things on the car roof. We recommend the TOOENJOY Car Door Step because of its universal fitment to all vehicles and its sturdy aircraft-grade aluminum steel construction. 

When you need a Car Door Step, you can hook it on the car door latch and stand on it to reach the car roof for operating roof-mounted cargo carriers, including roof racks. The TOOENJOY Universal Fit Car Door Step can hold up to 400 lbs or 180 kg, and it passed the SGS-CSTC Standards weight-bearing tests: 

  1. 180 kg remove after 10 minutes
  2. 250 kg remove after 8 minutes
  3. 270 kg remove after 5 minutes

You should get a Car Door Step if you use rooftop racks for outdoor adventures because it provides conveniences.

Chemical Guys Premium Microfiber Towels

microfiber towel for cleaning roof racks and vehicles

If you cannot find a towel for cleaning the rooftop racks, you can get this microfiber towel for your regular car washing jobs. Its size is 16″ x 16″. 

Cotton Swabs

cotton swabs for cleaning parts and joints of roof racks

When cleaning parts on rooftop racks, you can find deep gaps that are hard to reach with fingers; thus, you need to use a cotton swab to get that area cleaned.

Lubrication Powder and Oil

After cleaning your rooftop cargo carriers, including roof-mounted boxes, baskets, watercraft carriers, and bike racks, you better lubricate the parts and lock components with oil and powder for a longer lifecycle.

When applying lubrication powder on lock cores, you should push and pull the key in and out of the lock core several times. 

Can you use a carwash service with roof racks?

No. You cannot use the automatic carwash service before removing rooftop racks, rooftop-mounted, and hitch-mounted cargo carriers. Most carwash stations don’t allow cars with rooftop racks to enter the giant washing machine because of potential hazards.

If you insist on using a carwash service with roof-mounted rack systems, you must use the touchless carwash service. 

Related Topic: Can you carwash with a car roof box? & Can you carwash with a bike rack?

Store your roof racks:

When you don’t use roof racks, you can use these steps to keep them in the garage:

  • Disassemble roof racks from your vehicle and follow the steps above to clean them for keeping them in good condition.
  • Crossbars are not large car accessories like rooftop cargo boxes or baskets, so you don’t need to install other supporters in your garage.
  • You better use plastic covers to wrap the crossbars to protect them from corrosion, bugs, moisture, or small animals.

If you have other roof-mounted cargo carriers, you can refer to an article to find the best solutions to store and keep these car accessories in the garage.


You can find some tips and items to clean and maintain the car roof rack systems for better condition keeping. 

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