How to Safely Wash the Roof of a Tall Van

Washing the roof of a tall van can be a challenging task, but it’s important for maintaining the vehicle’s appearance and longevity. Dirt, grime, and bird droppings can accumulate on the roof, potentially leading to damage if not regularly cleaned. Here are some tips on how to safely and effectively wash the roof of a tall van.

1. Gather the Right Equipment

Before you start, ensure you have the appropriate equipment:

  • A sturdy, extendable ladder
  • A soft-bristle brush with a long handle
  • A bucket
  • Car shampoo
  • A hose with a spray nozzle
  • Microfibre cloths or sponges
  • Safety gloves and non-slip shoes

2. Choose a Safe Location

Find a flat, stable surface to park your van. Avoid washing on slopes or uneven ground where the ladder could wobble or tip over. Ensure the area is well-lit and free from obstructions.

3. Set Up the Ladder Safely

Position the ladder alongside the van, making sure it is on a stable surface. The ladder should extend at least three feet above the roofline to provide a secure handhold. Follow these safety tips:

  • Angle: Place the ladder at a 75-degree angle to the ground. You can check the angle by standing with your toes touching the ladder’s base and extending your arms straight out. Your palms should rest comfortably on the rung at shoulder height.
  • Secure: Ensure the ladder is locked into place and use a ladder stabiliser if possible to prevent slipping.

4. Prepare the Cleaning Solution

Fill a bucket with water and add the recommended amount of car shampoo. Mix well to create a soapy solution. Using car shampoo is important as it is designed to clean without damaging the vehicle’s paint.

5. Rinse the Roof

Use a hose with a spray nozzle to rinse off loose dirt and debris from the roof. This initial rinse helps prevent scratching the paint during the scrubbing process.

6. Scrub the Roof

Dip the soft-bristle brush into the soapy water and gently scrub the roof in sections. Reach as far as you can without overextending yourself. Move the ladder as needed to ensure you can comfortably and safely reach all areas of the roof. Pay special attention to areas with stubborn dirt or bird droppings.

7. Rinse Thoroughly

After scrubbing, rinse the roof thoroughly with clean water to remove all soap residue. Soap left on the roof can leave streaks and potentially damage the paint over time.

8. Dry the Roof

Use a microfibre cloth or a soft drying towel to dry the roof. This step helps prevent water spots and ensures a clean finish. If you can’t reach all areas safely, consider using a telescopic drying tool.

9. Check for Missed Spots

Once you’ve dried the roof, inspect it for any missed spots or stubborn grime. Repeat the scrubbing process if necessary.

Safety Tips

  • Avoid Overreaching: Always reposition the ladder instead of stretching too far to reach a spot. Overreaching can cause the ladder to tip over.
  • Weather Conditions: Avoid washing the van in windy or wet conditions, which can make the ladder unstable and the surface slippery.
  • Assistance: If possible, have someone nearby to assist you. They can help hold the ladder or pass you cleaning supplies.


Washing the roof of a tall van requires careful planning and safety precautions. By using the right equipment and following these steps, you can keep your van clean without risking injury. Regular cleaning not only maintains the van’s appearance but also protects it from damage, ensuring it remains in good condition for years to come.