While going to a carwash to have your motorcycle cleaned could be more convenient for most of us, it should be remembered that cleaning a motorcycle differs from cleaning a car. It would be best if you knew yourself how to properly clean your beloved motorcycle. The activity gives you a chance to look at your bike in ways that you wouldn’t otherwise notice while perched on the saddle.
1. Prepare your cleaning materials and work area
First and foremost, you need to prepare just a few things to make sure that you give your motorcycle a thorough cleaning.
Sponge - Getting the stubborn grime out of your bike’s surfaces without damaging its finishes could easily be done with a soft sponge. However, make sure that it doesn’t pick up any pieces of dirt as you use it to wipe an area.
2 Buckets - You’ll need at least two buckets to clean your bike, one will be used for soapy water, and the other for rinsing your dirty sponge, brushes, and towels used.
General Purpose Car Shampoo or Bike Specific Cleaner - this will help loosen up the stubborn dirt and grime that’s clinging on to your bike.
Sponge Brush - Which will be used for the hard to reach nooks and crannies of your motorcycle.
Chamois, microfiber, or old towels - A drying cloth will be used for wiping your motorcycle dry once you’re done with most of the cleaning.
After gathering all your materials, you’d also want to make sure that your motorcycle and your general work area are ready to go. You should make sure that your bike’s engine is no longer hot, otherwise, wait for it to cool down. Thermal shock cause by combining a hot engine with cold water could cause molecules on its metal parts to rapidly expand and damage its components. Also, avoid directly washing your bike right under direct sunlight as this would make your soap dry much faster causing streaks and water spots throughout your bike’s surfaces.
In addition, make sure to plug the hole on your exhaust. While motorcycles are generally resilient to water, it wouldn’t hurt to plug your exhaust hole with something as simple as a rag or a rubber glove just to keep the water out.
Once you’ve gathered all your cleaning materials and cleared your working area it's time to give your motorcycle a good soak. Grab a hose or use your bucket to soak your entire bike with fresh water. The general rule is, the less friction applied while cleaning your bike, the better. The truth is, the more your rub and scrub around its surfaces, the more likely that your cleaning cloth or sponge will pick up small particles of dirt and rub against your bike’s paint. After completely soaking the motorcycle with water, spray some car shampoo or bike-specific cleaner all over the motorcycle. Soapy foam from your shampoo or motorcycle cleaner takes the first pass at loosening up the dried muck, grime, bugs, or other remnants of the road.
3. Lather and Clean
Now that your bike has had its initial pass with a hose and is completely covered in soapy water, it would still be nice to lather up your motorcycle with a sponge to get more product going into your bike’s surfaces. However, still, be very mindful of the amount of force you employ when lathering and your motorcycle. Start from the top of your motorcycle and slowly work your way down the bike. After making a pass with a sponge, be sure to dip your dirty sponge into the bucket with fresh water to remove any particles that could cling onto the sponge and damage the bike's surfaces. Otherwise, if you find it difficult to clean it thoroughly, swap it out with a new sponge, shammy, or towel before continuing with other areas.
After lathering up your entire motorcycle, you don’t want that soapy water staying on your bike’s surfaces for too long as it could leave watermarks once it dries up. Rinsing your bike to get the soapy water out of its surfaces should be done relatively quickly after lathering everything up. Quickly run some freshwater all over with a hose or bucket until all the soap is completely out of all surfaces.
Once you’ve completely rinsed out your motorcycle, it’s time to dry out the water that’s still left. Use your drying towel, chamois, or microfiber to wipe off any remaining droplets that are clinging on to the body. For those hard to reach areas, a sponge brush would come in handy. Water left on your bike’s creases and crevices could eventually cause corrosion over long periods of time. For those stubborn areas that even your sponge brushes can’t reach, it would be best to have an air blower or compressor of some sort to dry out these areas.
6. Lubricate Drive Chain
It is unavoidable that your motorcycle’s drive chain would get caught in the middle of all your motorcycle’s washing. While your bike’s chain doesn’t really catch water, the soapy water that tends to hit your bike’s chain could still affect its lubrication. It would be wise to lubricate your bike’s motorcycle chain after a wash. While lubricating your motorcycle’s drive chain isn’t really part of its cleaning process, it should be. This is an often-overlooked process but plays an important role in prolonging the lifespan of your motorcycle’s drive chain and sprockets.
At this point, you’re done with most of your motorcycle’s cleaning and you’re left with a motorcycle you would love to look at. The next step is to protect your investment because you’re about to expose it again to the elements once again. Apply a nice layer of liquid carnauba wax on the bike’s painted surfaces using a microfiber cloth. Rub it down a little bit to thin out the layer of wax applied. After that, let it dry a little bit before finally rubbing it off with another microfiber towel to give your motorcycle a nice shine. Sealing your paint with a layer of wax is essential in keeping your paint as shiny as possible. At this point, now only is your motorcycle squeaky clean, it’s nice and shiny too.