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Motorcycle cleaning and detailing tips and tricks

Looking for that squeaky clean finish on your motorcycle? Here are some helpful tips and tricks.

Vintage Honda

Ever had a pesky stain on your motorcycle that won’t seem to clean out no matter how many washes you go through? Cleaning and detailing a motorcycle can be a bit tricky. There are a variety of surfaces on a motorcycle including painted and unpainted metals, glossy and matte plastic materials, and a whole variety of surface shapes and sizes. Despite this, properly cleaning and detailing a motorcycle at home need not be frustratingly difficult. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge on how you can best clean and detail your own motorcycle at home, here are some of the most useful tips for common cleaning and detailing tasks.

Washing the bike

Sport Bike

Making sure that your motorcycle is clean through a normal wash is the most important task on this list and should be done before any of the next few cleaning tasks. This is because detailing or spot cleaning a dirty motorcycle can only aggravate staining and scratching problems. When washing a motorcycle, it’s important to make sure you use the right tools and materials: a normal garden hose with sufficient water pressure, car shampoo, a microfiber cloth for wet cleaning, and a chamois towel for drying. 

When using your microfiber towel on your motorcycle, following the two bucket method is probably one of the most useful tips for regular washing. Fill two buckets up, one with soapy water for cleaning the bike, and one with regular water for rinsing the towel. Wipe dirt off your motorcycle, rinse the towel in the bucket of regular water before grabbing soapy water for your next wipe. This will ensure that most of the dirt, grime, and particles stay in one bucket and do not recycle onto your towel at every wipe. It is also advisable to avoid a pressure washer since high strength water pressure can do more harm than good: it can destroy or wear down exposed electrical connections, rip off fender decals, and scratch the paint and plastics.

Removing stains

Triumph Single Cylinder Engine

When removing oil and dirt stains from painted metal or plastics, using a degreaser can work properly as well, however, it is advisable to further dilute your degreaser with clean water if you will be using it for cleaning painted metal or plastic. Simply spray on your diluted degreaser, let it sit for a few minutes, and gently clean with a microfiber cloth. Make sure to wash with clean water thoroughly afterward in order to remove all traces of degreaser completely.

When removing oil and dirt stains from unpainted parts such as the engine, using a high-quality degreaser can go far. Simply spray a proper amount of degreaser on the metal surface, wait a few minutes, and scrub the part down before giving it a rinse. The degreaser used for this job can be a little bit stronger since this task words directly with unpainted metal—just make sure the degreaser stays on the unpainted metal and doesn’t creep elsewhere.

When removing stubborn dirt stains from plastics, one of the best cleaners you can use would be WD-40 due to its strong cleaning properties. Simply spray a bit of WD-40 on the plastic surface with dirt, let it sit for a minute or two, and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth. Just make sure to wash the specific part of your motorcycle with soap and water to remove the WD-40 completely since WD-40 can be corrosive to surfaces if left behind for a long time.

When removing asphalt or tar from your motorcycle, your best cleaner would be WD-40. Spray an adequate amount of WD40 on the specific parts of the motorcycle with tar or asphalt and let it soak for a few minutes. Afterward, tar and asphalt removal should come easy. Make sure to clean using soap and water to remove all the WD-40 from the surface of your motorcycle.

When cleaning matte plastics, like the ones found on your handlebar switches, using soap and water may not clean out all the stains, and using the wrong cleaner can leave permanent whitish stains. If you’re looking to clean these parts, mix baking soda and water to make a thin blend with the consistency of toothpaste and rub it over the plastic with a microfiber towel and let it sit for a few minutes. Afterward, mix a solution of water and white vinegar using a 2:1 ratio respectively, and use it to wipe off the baking soda. Clean off with water and leave to dry and your matte plastics should be looking good, clean, and healthy.


Harley Davidson

The last few tips would be around protecting your motorcycle after a wash and thorough cleaning job. In general, there are two wax types that can be used for your motorcycle. The first would be the traditional wax in the form of a paste which is applied on the plastic or metal surface of a motorcycle, left to harden, and buffed out by hand or by a machine. The second type would be spray wax which comes in a bottle—simply spray on your desired surface and wipe thoroughly with a microfiber towel.

Traditional wax protects your motorcycle for a longer period than spray wax and is better used on surfaces that are large and flat, such as an exposed gas tank or wide plastic fairings where it will be easy to buff wax out. Spray wax on the other hand will usually need to be reapplied at every wash, but is better used for more complex surfaces of a motorcycle due to the ease of application and wiping; surfaces such as the wheel and spokes, frame, and all other nooks and crannies. Regardless of the wax choice you go for, make sure to follow the instructions of the wax you’ve picked and be thorough when 

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