Is the layer of grime on your once-pristine ride starting to bum you out? Fear not, my two-wheeled warriors, for we have the knowledge to keep your steed looking sharp, while extending your motorcycle’s life in the process!
Unleash your (potentially unwilling) inner motorcycle detailer and turn heads with your gleaming machine as you cruise down the road.
If nothing else, cleaning your bike can help locate loose bolts, cracks or other hazards, so it is a good thing to practice now and again!
Dirt, grit, grime, and cloudy paint are all signs your bike needs washed.
Properly cleaning a motorcycle is not rocket science, but it does require some knowledge and experience. In this article, we will discuss some motorcycle cleaning tips and tricks and what to avoid when washing your motorcycle.
How to Clean a Motorcycle
Before we dive into what to avoid when washing your motorcycle, let's first discuss how to clean a motorcycle properly. Cleaning a motorcycle can be divided into five main steps: preparation, pre-washing, washing, rinse and drying.
Gather your supplies and make sure your drying and waxing cloths are clean. Put your bike in a shady area.
Before washing your motorcycle, it is essential to prepare the necessary supplies, including a bucket, mild soap, microfiber towels or a soft sponge, a hose or low-pressure washer, and a drying cloth. Make sure to park your motorcycle in a shaded area to prevent the soap from drying too quickly.
Pre-washing, give your bike a good rinse. Use a hose with a nozzle or just open and push your finger on it. DON'T USE A PRESURE WASHER!
The pre-washing step involves removing loose dirt and debris from the motorcycle. Use a garden hose to rinse the motorcycle thoroughly. Make sure to cover all areas of the motorcycle, including hard-to-reach spots such as under the fenders and between the wheels. Avoid using a high-pressure jet directly on the motorcycle as it can damage the paint or strip off the wax. For this reason, we recommend avoiding using a pressure washer.
Fill your bucket with soap and add water. Get a nice soft sponge for the job.
After the pre-washing step, it's time to wash the motorcycle thoroughly. You can use a bucket of soapy water and a sponge or a dedicated motorcycle cleaner. Make sure to use a cleaner that is specifically designed for motorcycles or automobiles, as it will not damage the paint or other parts of the motorcycle. Apply the cleaner to the motorcycle and use a sponge to scrub the dirt and grime off.
Fill that bucket and get it real soapy!
Be diligent but soft handed and scrub everywhere with your sponge.
Spray additional cleaner in areas that are tougher to get into like wheels and or under the bike.
Be gentle and avoid using abrasive materials that can scratch the paint. Pay special attention to areas such as the wheels, exhaust pipes, and chain. Use a soft-bristled brush for hard-to-reach areas, like wheels or engine parts, to remove dirt and grime buildup without damaging the surface.
Rinse her off baby! Get all the soap off from all areas and sides.
Use a hose or low-pressure washer to rinse your motorcycle thoroughly. Make sure to start from the top and work your way down, as this will prevent dirt and grime from running down onto clean surfaces.
Use a puffy micro fiber cloth that soaks up water to dry off your bike.
Once you have washed the motorcycle, it's time to dry it. You can use a chamois or a microfiber towel to wipe off the water from the motorcycle. Make sure to dry all areas of the motorcycle, including the hard-to-reach spots. Leaving water on the motorcycle can cause water spots, which can be difficult to remove later.
Starting your bike and going for a ride will also help of course, and the heat of the running engine will be sure to evaporate any residual moisture in hard-to-reach areas.
Having multiple towels or an extra set of hands can help make sure you get all the water dried up to avoid spots.
Motorcycle Cleaning Tips and Tricks
Now that we have discussed the five main steps of cleaning a motorcycle, let's look at some motorcycle cleaning tips and tricks that can make the process easier and more effective.
- Use a dedicated automotive or motorcycle cleaner: As mentioned earlier, using a cleaner that is specifically designed for motor vehicles is essential. Using household cleaners or dish soap can damage the paint and other parts of the motorcycle.
- Clean the motorcycle in the shade: Cleaning the motorcycle in direct sunlight can cause the water and soap to dry out quickly, leaving water spots behind.
- Use a separate sponge for different parts of the motorcycle: Using the same sponge for the wheels and the body of the motorcycle can transfer dirt and grime from one part to another, causing scratches and swirl marks.
- Protect the paint with wax: Applying a coat of wax after washing the motorcycle can protect the paint from UV rays and other contaminants.
- Clean regularly: Regular cleaning can help prevent dirt and grime buildup, making future cleanings easier and preventing damage to your bike. It's essential to clean your motorcycle after every ride or at least once a week.
- Use a chain cleaner for the chain if desired. Using a chain cleaner can remove dirt and grime from the chain and improve its lifespan. You definitely do not want to clean heavy grime from your chain, or from the area around it, with the same sponge you use to wash the rest of your bike.
After the bike is dry, use a microfiber wax applicator and high end car wax is clutch.
Oooo shiny... WAX OFF!
What to Avoid When Washing Your Motorcycle
Now that we have discussed some motorcycle cleaning tips and tricks let's talk about what to avoid when washing your motorcycle. Avoiding these common mistakes can save you from damaging your motorcycle and keep it looking new for years to come.
Using a high-pressure jet directly on the motorcycle
As mentioned earlier, using a high-pressure jet directly on the motorcycle is best avoided. High pressure can force water where you don’t want it (failing ignitions switch and electrical components, carburetor etc) as well as damage the paint or strip off the wax. Use a gentle stream of water to rinse the motorcycle.
Avoid hot water
Avoid using hot water, as this can cause paint and other surfaces to warp or crack.
Using abrasive materials
Avoid using abrasive materials such as steel wool or rough sponges to scrub the motorcycle. These materials can scratch the paint and leave swirl marks, making the motorcycle look dull and aged.
Don't let the soap dry!
Letting the soap dry on the motorcycle
Allowing the soap to dry on the motorcycle can leave soap stains and make the cleaning process more difficult. Make sure to rinse off the soap as soon as possible.
Using a dirty sponge or towel
Using a dirty sponge or towel can transfer dirt and grime from one part of the motorcycle to another, causing scratches and swirl marks. Always use a clean sponge or towel to clean the motorcycle.
Neglecting to dry the motorcycle
Leaving water on the motorcycle can cause water spots, which can be difficult to remove later. Make sure to dry the motorcycle thoroughly after washing it. This is best done with a combination of using a dry, clean towel, as well as starting your bike and taking it for a ride!
Your bike too, can look as good as this if you take the time and do it right with no shortcuts!
And so, my fellow road warriors, we've reached the end of our thrilling journey through the wild and wonderful world of motorcycle cleaning. So, go on, pamper your prized possession with these tried-and-true tips and tricks. Your motorcycle will purr with gratitude, and who knows, it might just share some of that gratitude with you in the form of an extra horsepower or two (but actually, no it won’t). Happy cleaning and even happier riding!