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5 Simple Tips for Washing a Lifted Truck

If you’ve got one, you know washing a lifted truck can be tricky. Depending on the size of the lift kit you have, you may need a few accessories and products to help wash and wax from time to time (since going to an automatic wash probably isn’t an option). You’ve got factors like height of the lift, size of the tire, and other variables that can dictate what kind of equipment you may need.

Today I’ll share a few of these tips I’ve come across to make washing your lifted truck or SUV a little easier.

1. Purchase a non-slip platform

Even if you have a car, using one of these metal platforms can make it a lot easier to wash the top of your vehicle.

Many of these collapsible platforms are super portable and fold up to store just about anywhere. For me, the back glass and top of my truck can be pretty difficult to reach by hand unless (even without a lift kit).

While climbing in the tailgate is a good option for the top,  I would definitely recommend using one of these platforms whenever cleaning the windshield, hood, or other hard-to-reach areas.

I would try to find one that that is non-slip (with anti-skid material on the feet and the top) like this one on Amazon by Giantex.

Non-Slip Portable Detailing Platform

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giantex car detailing non slip step platform

This one has great reviews and stows away easily.

2. Use a foam cannon and pressure washer

best foam cannon

Using a pressure washer comes in handy when washing lifted trucks, from applying soap using a foam cannon, to cleaning the inside of your wheel wells.

When used at the proper pressure setting (between 1200 and 1900 PSI), there is really no better device for removing mud safely from larger truck tires.

If you’re new to using a pressure washer to clean your vehicle, I put together a quick-start guide you can check out here that outlines what to keep in mind when using these devices to wash vehicles.

How a foam cannon makes washing easier

When it comes to washing a lifted truck (or anything listed for that matter) being able to spray soap on the surface as opposed to applying in by hand is really your best bet for washing quickly. A simple pressure washer with an attached foam cannon can also cover areas you are likely to miss if using a bucket and wash mitt.

While many people may choose a long-handled brush for washing lifted trucks, I would opt for using foam to remove dirt instead of a brush. While these brushes can be effective when clean, it is much easier to scratch the clear coat considering all of the dirt they tend to pick up.

Soap (or foam in this case) in combination with high pressure should remove dirt from the surface in most cases (without the need to contact the paint at all with a brush or wash mitt).

Selecting a pressure washer for washing your truck

If you really need the power of a gas-powered power washer (or plan to use it on your driveway as well), this Simpson Cleaning MSH3125 with Honda motor on Amazon is a great choice for beginners and puts out 2.5 gallons per minute.

Simpson 2.5GPM 3200PSI Pressure Washer

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Simpson power washer for detailing

For large vehicles, you ideally want a gas-powered pressure washer because it will create thicker foam when you attach a foam cannon…something you’ll wnt if your truck gets muddy.

If you just plan to use electricity at your home, many electric models work well (and some can even be used with foam cannons). Check out this list of 5 electric pressure washer models I recently reviewed for beginners that fit the bill for under $250.

3. Visit a self-service car wash bay

self service bay for truck washing

If you live in an area where you don’t have access to a hose or water, using a self-service car wash bay is a great option because these bays are typically tall enough to handle just about any vehicle, unlike most touchless washes. They also make dedicated truck washes (designed for semi-trucks) that you can sometimes find near truck stops, depending on where you live.

The high-pressure cleaning wands in these self-service bays are also handy for blasting away dirt after offroading. Just be sure not to use the handheld brushes, as these tend to get really dirty and can leave scratches.

4. Clean the undercarriage with the right tools

cleaning undercarriage

After rinsing down the undercarriage of your truck, you can start by using a multi-purpose degreaser on metal or anywhere grease and grime tend to accumulate.  Before using soap and a high-pressure rinse, this can help remove grime, grease, and other substances that may still be visible on a steel frame.

I prefer a good foaming cleaner for this type of application, but most degreasers or multi-purpose cleaners should be fine.

I’ve also seen some people apply a spray-on undercoating to the entire undercarriage area (in addition to mud flaps and wheel well covers) which can help minimize damage over time. Especially if you have a lifted truck with offset tires, you probably know damaging small rocks and stones can be.

Check out my post on how to clean and protect truck wheel wells if you need some help protecting your truck against small rocks or debris.

5. Use a variety of tire brushes

Since washing a lifted truck also involves washing large tires (and pretty massive ones sometimes), I recommend a handheld tire brush that’s comfortable to use without crouching down.

Handheld Truck Tire Brush

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These long-handled brushes are ideal for wheel wells, and other hard-to-reach areas under your truck.

Detailing brushes for cleaning lug nuts

Another type of brush that you can use on larger tires or shocks is a soft detailing brush. These look like paintbrushes (or makeup brushes) and are ideal for cleaning lug nuts and those tight crevices that are really difficult to clean with a microfiber towel or just a standard tire brush.

11-Piece Detailing Brush Set

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Detailing brush set

Also whenever cleaning your wheels, it’s not a bad idea to have a dedicated wheel and undercarriage bucket. Here you can place all of your wheel brushes and accessories, and prevent contaminating your other equipment used for washing the paint.

Conclusion

These tools and techniques should make cleaning any lifted truck easier, but finding a good auto detailer may be the more economical option if you can afford it.

If you prefer to wash your truck yourself (like I do), being able to spray soap or foam can be a huge game-changer. And save you time with the right setup.

In addition to the products I mentioned, get your copy of my free eBook, 25 Essential Auto Detailing Products for Beginners for even more ideas for washing your truck this season.

Let me know if you have any other suggestions that have worked for you!

Baxter Overman is the founder of Carwash Country and has been been cleaning up dirty vehicles for nearly 20 years. Since 2017, he's helped thousands of beginners see better results by learning the fundamentals of washing and detailing. He's on a mission to make the car wash process more fun...and way easier.

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