Motorcycle Detailing & Cleaning Guide

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Keeping your motorcycle clean is an important part of regular motorcycle maintenance.

Getting rid of all the grime and dirt will not only keep your bike looking good, but it will make it easy to perform your routine maintenance and diagnose problems if they arrise.

Before you get started, check out our recommendations for some of the best motorcycle cleaners and degreasers.

How to Wash a Motorcycle

Washing a motorcycle is a little different than washing a car.

Obviously, you can’t just pull through a car wash – unless you’re looking for a wash and lashing yourself!

You also should avoid spraying down your motorcycle with a hose or pressure washer. This can cause water to get where you don’t want it to.

Cleaning your motorcycle, and giving it the full detailing treatment, is a bit more involved than just spraying it down with a pressure wash.

The first rule of thumb before you start to clean and detail you bike is to use the right types of cleaners on the different materials found on your motorcycle. Be sure to read the instructions on your particular cleaners and only use them on the types of surfaces they’re designed for.

To clean your motorcycle:

  • Make sure the bike has cooled down if it has been ridden recently.
  • Pick a spot that is protected from the sun and the wind when your begin to wash it.
  • Get two buckets ready: one with soapy water (or cleaning solution) and one with clean water for rinsing your rag.
  • Use a soft cloth to apply the water and soap to break down the dirt and grime.
  • Use a motorcycle cleaner or degreaser on really dirty spots.
  • Rinse the bike with a pass with water and a cloth.
  • Wash the windshields and fairings.
  • Dry the bike with a clean, soft cloth and an air blower.
  • Clean and lube the motorcycle chain.
  • Finish with a motorcycle wax and polish.

If you are going to spray your bike with a hose, be sure to only use low to medium pressure. High water pressure can get moisture into places it shouldn’t be and damage parts of your bike.

How to Clean Motorcycle Chrome

You’ll clean your chrome parts with the same general steps above. However, you’ll definitely want to finish these parts with a chrome-specific motorcycle wax and polish.

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To clean chrome on your motorcycle:

  • First clean off any dirt and grime.
  • Dry the area.
  • Apply a chrome-polish.

This will help the chrome shine and protect it from further grime and damage.

Over time you may need to take some steps to remove rust from your motorcycle’s chrome parts.

Cleaning Chrome Exhaust Pipes

Cleaning your motorcycle’s exhaust pipes can be tricky.

On older bikes, the exhausts tend to be common areas for rust, chrome flaking, burn spots, and road grime.

Here are some things you can use to clean your exhaust pipes:

  • Engine degreaser or oven cleaner to remove caked on grime.
  • Foil or steel wool and penetrating oil to remove grime and restore some rusty spots.
  • Chrome cleaner and polish once the bulk of the grim is gone.

How to Clean a Motorcycle Engine

Your motorcycle’s engine is one of the areas that can get the dirtiest – especially on the bottom, in the nooks and crannies, and in between the cooling fins.

The combination of heat, moisture, and picking up all sorts of road grime makes for the perfect commination of nasty.

To clean your motorcycle engine:

  • Do a first pass to remove any loose debris.
  • Apply some degreaser to the remaining grime and allow it to break down.
  • Wipe away with a tooth brush or soft-pick tools.
  • Rinse off the loosened grime and remaining degreaser with water and a rag.
  • Spray with compressed air and dry.

How to Clean Matte Paint on a Motorcycle

If your bike has matte finishes, you’ll want to make sure to clean them correctly.

Matte paint requires a different type of cleaner and polish than gloss paint.

  • Get a matte surface cleaner.
  • Wipe down the area with a cloth and cleaner to remove dirt and grime.
  • Spray the matte-specific cleaner to the matte surface to be cleaned.
  • Use a cloth to rub the cleaner on.
  • Use another cloth to dry the area.
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