How to Wash a Motorcycle Properly


After a day of riding, your motorcycle is not likely to be as shiny as it was when you rode out with it. You have ridden through dust, mud, puddles, and so forth.

The bike may look okay, if you are riding primarily through urban areas and on pavements. However, after a few days, you will start to notice a coat of dust upon the bike.

Being a biker has a lot to do with style and appearance. Bikers look cool. Dirty bikes do not. You must therefore wash your motorcycle regularly.

However, there is a proper procedure one should follow. For instance, there are areas which should not come into contact with water as it could cause corrosion. Don’t worry, though. Read on, and you will learn everything you need to know.

1. Let the Motorcycle Cool Down

Never start washing the motorcycle when it’s still hot. If you have just come in from a ride, let the bike cool down.

You see, spraying water on a hot engine is dangerous because the sudden temperature change could crack the engine block.

2. Cleaning Gear

As you wait for the bike to cool down, you can busy yourself gathering the tools and supplies you will need to carry out the job.

You will need the following things:

  • Bucket
  • Degreaser and/or WD-40
  • A few clean, dry cloths (microfiber or chamois)
  • Auto/motorcycle wax (this is optional)
  • Old toothbrush (useful for cleaning the tight places)
  • Bug and tar remover (if required)
  • Chrome cleaner (if required)

3. Clean the Chain

It’s wise to begin by cleaning the motorcycle chain. It is sure to be grimy with grease and dirty. Cleaning the chain first will ensure the grime does not splash upon the rest of the motorcycle while you are cleaning it.

We recommend you use an approved degreaser – if available at your local shop.

Spray the degreaser on the chain so as to loosen the debris. Wipe away the debris using a clean cloth.

You can also use WD-40 as a solvent for loosening the dirt and grease.

Ensure you apply lubricant to the chain once more after you have finished cleaning the rest of the bike.

4. Cleaning the Non-Chrome Engine Parts

Before you can begin to clean the motorcycle’s body, you should work on any nooks and crannies located around the engine area.

This is where the old toothbrush comes in handy. It is difficult or impossible to clean those tight spaces with a cloth, but the toothbrush can penetrate the nook and crannies and clean them out.

Due to the difficulty of cleaning these areas, they are usually filled with accumulated dirt.

Dip the toothbrush in clean, cool water, and then scrub the dirt and debris away gently.

You may need to spray WD-40 on the gunk to loosen it and make it easier to clean out.

Caution: you should generally steer clear of the brake lines and bearings as bringing those areas into contact with water may lead to corrosion and other problems.

5. Rinsing the Motorcycle

Use cool water to rinse the bike. Doing so will loosen dirt, rinsing a lot of it away, which makes cleaning much easier.

Do it using a gentle stream of water from a hose. High-pressure sprays are likely to cause damage to the paint, finish, or other materials.

6. Rub the Bike’s Body with a Soft Sponge or Cloth

Take a sponge or soft cloth, dip it in your bucket of cool water, and wipe the motorcycle’s body.

If it is salt you are cleaning off your bike (when you’ve ridden on a road salt in winter), clean with water and then skip to waxing. Don’t use detergents on such a case as they could worsen the salt problem.

7. Clean the Plastic Parts

Use an approved auto detergent to clean the plastic parts on the body. Add the detergent to a bucket of cool water, dip and sponge in the suds, and wipe.

8. Clean Aluminum Wheels with Soapy Water


See Also: How to clean a motorcycle gas tank?

If like many modern bikes your has lightweight aluminum wheels, soapy water and a soft cloth will suffice to clean the wheels. Afterward, rinse them with water and then wipe with a dry cloth.

Do not use abrasive cleaners or tools as they will damage the paint or finish on the wheels.

If your bike has traditional chrome wheels, use chrome cleaner instead.

9. Rinse the Entire Bike

Use the hose to gently spray away any remaining vestiges of dirt or traces of suds from the motorcycle.

If there isn’t that much to clear off, a sponge wet with clear, cool water will be enough to rinse the motorcycle.

10. Wipe off Excess Water

Next, use a dry chamois or microfiber cloth to gently rub down the bike. The cloth will wick away the water remaining on the motorcycle, ensuring no water spots are left when your bike air-dries.

Afterward, let the bike air-dry, but not in direct sunlight as this can cause water spots to form.

11. Buff the Seat with Approved Protectant

Motorcycle seats may be made of materials such as vinyl and leather.

Vinyl seats, though tough, tend to fade and crack over time. Using an approved vinyl protectant, you can halt or minimize these problems.

On the other hand, leather seats are more delicate. If your bike has a leather seat, use a leather care cream to protect it.

You can find protectants at any auto or motorcycle supply store.

Note that you should never use detergents on leather.

11. Apply Car or Motorcycle Wax

Car or motorcycle wax will give the bike’s finish extra protection. It will also keep grime and dirt away.

Follow the instructions provided on the wax spray’s package.

12. Spray Protectant on Bearings

Bearings are critical, but also delicate. A protective spray will coat the bearings and protect them from moisture and dirt. Check the product’s package for the application instructions


Washing your motorcycle is not just about getting it to look shiny and nice. It’s also a key part of maintaining it in the best condition.

You see, the dirt, grime, dead bugs, and corrosive crud that accumulate on the bike are harmful to the motorcycle’s paint, chrome, and metal parts.

Good bikers take care of their motorcycles. That’s a fact.

Avatar for Joshua D. Mattie

    Joshua D. Mattie

    My motorbike addiction began with 50cc at 5 years old. I rode motocross as a teenager & into my 20's when I worked as a mechanic. This helped me to see the light—sportbikes & cruisers became a passion. Now I'm building BikersRights to be the #1 resource for everything on 2 wheels!

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    Avatar for Anand Adams
    Anand Adams Reply

    It is important to keep your motorbike clean to maintain it’s a wonderful performance. Choosing the right cleaning products is important. Thank you for sharing these tips.

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