Washing a motorcycle is a joyful activity for bike owners. There’s something satisfying about taking care of your own vehicle. I admit, there are some parts that can be a pain to fix. I’m talking about minor maintenance that keeps your bike healthy and running. Washing is a part of that, and that’s what I’m going to be explaining today. Here is a guide on: How To Wash A Motorcycle?
- Get the right gear and organize a working place.
- Spray with cleaner and then rinse with water.
- Clean each material with the right solution and rinse again.
- Let the bike dry
- Apply lube to the chain
- Optional: Waxing & Polishing
Believe me, that’s only a quick summary. You want to do this right. Using the wrong solution can damage the material. Scrubbing in the wrong places will damage crucial bike parts. So, we’ll go through this step by step, I’ll make sure to cover everything.
1. Getting The Right Cleaning Supplies
Whether you’ll be doing this by yourself only this time, a set of motorcycle cleaning supplies will make your job a lot easier. Some of the gear you can find in your home. I still recommend buying brand-new gear specifically for your motorcycle. These supplies will last you for quite some time, so it’s not something you buy each time you use it.
- 1-2 Sponges
- 3-5 Drying Towels/Cloths
- Shammy Cloth(Chamois cloth)
- Motorcycle Spray Cleaner/Degreaser/WD-40
- Toothbrush & Wash Bucket
- Chain Cleaner
- Chain Lube
Gathering up everything you need to get the job done before getting started is the right way to do this. Things go wrong when you’re not prepared. So, to avoid any stress and frustration, just get the right gear. Not to mention, efficiency is key, if you do this right the bike will be squeaky clean.
2. Convenient Working Place
It goes without saying that you can’t be spraying water on a public street. You need to do this on your property. Ask a friend that may have a place available. There are also venues that provide the supplies but you do the washing yourself.
Since you’re here, learning about washing a motorcycle, you probably have a working place. The drive-in of a garage, your yard, are some of the ideal areas to do this. I’ll let you handle the working place, let me just point some things out.
Obviously, you’ll need a nearby source of water. If your garage/yard has a pipe for incoming water, that would be the place to insert the hose. Still, you can be set up the hose with the kitchen. Just make sure that the hose will be long enough. And, that the hose is hole-free, so water won’t ruin your kitchen.
The other thing you need to worry about, water flowing into the street or into a nearby neighbor’s yard. You’ll be rinsing the bike with the hose at least two times. That’s a lot of water. So, be careful where the water goes, you want to dispose of it safely. You don’t want to drown your yard too.
3. Clean The Chain
I don’t know how often you are doing chain maintenance. But I can be sure that you have some grime on it. Not saying that it’s your fault, the chain is a part that’s prone to wear with each ride. While you’re rinsing, that grime may spatter and get on your bike. So, a clean chain is preferred before moving on to the body.
All you have to do is just spray some motorcycle chain cleaner, let it sit, and wipe it off with a clean rug/cloth. We’ll be applying lube in the end. If you want a comprehensive guide on how to clean a motorcycle chain, follow the link below.
[Related Article: A Complete Guide To Clean And Lube Your Motorcycle Chain]
4. Apply Degreaser/Spray Cleaner
We’re still at the preparation part. As you can see, there are some things to set in order before scrubbing and washing. Chances are, your bike is covered in grease, grime, road grit, etc. If you don’t properly remove this stubborn dirt, you may have to scrub a lot. And that’s not something you want.
It depends on the paint job of the motorcycle, but most paint types are sensitive to scrubbing. Scrubbing too hard to remove the grime will damage the body. That’s why it’s best to start by applying a mixture of warm water and spray cleaner on grime spots. Applying a degreaser works too. WD-40 is also a popular choice.
- Apply cleaner + warm water on grime spots.
- Let it sit, follow the instructions listed on the product.
- Rinse with a water hose.
Once you’re finished, you can move on to the actual washing part. You got rid of the dirt that’s hard to remove. The Wash & Care part will now go smoothly, ensuring that squeaky clean look you wanted.
5. Clean Non-Chrome Parts With Brush
The degreaser should have done its job taking care of the grit. But that’s not always the case. If you’re riding a lot, especially on dirty or winter roads, grime made its way around the engine. There’s no guarantee that the spray cleaner will get rid of all that dirt.
Cleaning the non-chrome engine parts is what you need to do next. Be careful here and pay special attention. Take a brush, preferably, a long-armed brush. Dip it in the water bucket and start scraping off grime around the non-chrome parts. Avoid engine components. Don’t scrub too hard, be gentle, and be thorough.
6. Clean Plastic Body Parts With A Water & Soap Solution
And here comes the satisfying part you see in pictures and ads, Wash & Care with a sponge. Here’s where you give the bike a proper wash. If you’ve done the previous steps right, and you put some effort into this step, you’ll have a spotless bike.
- Rinse with fresh water, avoid high-pressure water.
- Wipe away any leftover dirt with a clean sponge, periodically dipping in the water bucket.
- Dip a clean sponge in a water and soap cleaning solution, and gently wash plastic parts. You can also use a dedicated motorcycle cleaner.
- Rinse with fresh water again.
- Wipe off any remaining water spots with a soft cloth.
7. Clean The Seat With The Right Detergent
The seat will be looking quite clean from all that rinsing, so this step is not that necessary. Still, there are some people who like the seat to be extra clean. Wiping with a sponge dipped in water is okay too. But you can add a leather cleaning solution/vinyl cleaner. It’s a smart idea to add a vinyl protectant after you’re done cleaning. This will add protection to your seat, making it dirt-resistant for some time.
8. Apply Bug & Tar Remover On Spots That Still Have Grime
Take a look at your bike, can you see that you’re nearly done? We’ve covered most of the cleaning process, just a couple of things left. Just some finishing touches. Do you see any grime spots left? Chances are, most of you will still have road grime, especially if you haven’t washed the bike in a while. To finally get rid of these annoying pieces of dirt, apply bug & tar remover. Turtle Wax Bug & Tar Remover is a product we recommend. If there’s something that can dissolve the grime it’s the tar remover.
9. Clean The Wheels
Most likely, the wheels are already looking clean because of all that water you were spraying. But let’s say you want them looking shiny. We can do that. Wheel cleaning requires a soft brush for wheels and a soap solution. You can also try using a clean cloth but for those hard-to-reach places, you’ll need a brush. With aluminum wheels, it’s safe to stick to a weak soap and water solution. Use a chrome cleaner for chrome wheels.
10. Finishing Up
There you go, before you know it, you’re done. Your bike should be shining in all its glory. All that’s left to do now, is add some finishing touches. This is the last step, but you don’t have to stop here, you may want to add wax. We’ll talk about that in a second.
- Give the bike one last rinse with cool water.
- Wipe away any excess pieces of dirt with a clean sponge.
- Let it dry for a while.
- Lastly, wipe with a drying cloth.
- Make sure the bike is completely dry.
- Apply lubricant to chain.
Optional: Apply Motorcycle Wax
Now, your motorcycle is looking all fine and clean and you can stop right here. You used a lot of chemicals though. Your bike may be clean but you are kind of exposing the paint to degradation. This doesn’t have to be the case, many people don’t apply wax and it’s just fine.
However, if you are willing to add protection to your bike, applying wax may be best for you. Waxing is no easy job though. I won’t go that far as to thoroughly explain how to wax a motorcycle, this article will be too long. Let’s leave that for another time. In the meanwhile, here’s a helpful video that will show you how to wax a motorcycle.
I believe that I was thorough, and I covered the important parts. I didn’t have the space to include some extra tips, so that’s why this section was here. I highly advise reading this, it will help you work more efficiently.
- Buy a motorcycle cleaning set instead of buying each product separately.
- Always have a bucket of clean water available next to you.
- Don’t wash a hot bike!
- Be careful to not damage the brake lines while covering the non-chrome parts.
- Cover the exhaust pipes with a plastic bag to prevent water from building up in the exhaust.
- Use a rubber glove while applying detergents, the chemicals may damage your skin.
- Consider taking off the chain before starting. You can clean it separately and protect it from the water, i.e rust.
- If you’re scrubbing too hard, you’re doing it wrong. Solutions should help you with that.
- Every time you’re washing the chain, you should lubricate it.
Related Questions And Other FAQs
How Often Should You Wash Your Motorcycle
You should wash your motorcycle once every 2-3 weeks. It depends on how dirty the bike is. Overdoing it may damage the paint. The grime that can corrode the paint should be taken care of as soon as possible.
Can You Clean A Motorcycle Without A Hose
Cleaning a motorcycle without a hose is entirely possible. You wash it only with sponges and buckets of water. This is a good way to go if the bike doesn’t have that much grime and bug. A hose will help you rinse better.
Is It Okay To Wash A Motorcycle At A Carwash
No, most people don’t advise on taking your motorcycle to a carwash. The reason being, most carwash places use high-pressure water. This can be harmful to the bike. You can ask to use low pressure, or take it to a place that cleans bikes properly.
Is It Okay To Leave A Motorcycle In The Sun
You shouldn’t leave your bike out in the open sun for long periods of time. The UV rays will damage the paint. Leaving the bike in the sun for a short period of time should be fine though. Long exposures to the sun can affect the fuel too.
Well, that’s it. That’s what it takes to wash the entire bike. Hope this information was helpful to you. I commend you that you’re cleaning the motorcycle yourself. Cleaning falls into the regular maintenance category. And anyone who takes care of his vehicle is a responsible owner. Enjoy your squeaky clean bike.