How to Clean a Motorcycle


The Popularity of Motorcycles

Motorcycles are one of the most popular forms of transportation in the world.  They are extremely affordable, especially compared to larger four-wheeled vehicles, are easy to maintain, modify, and work on, they are fuel efficient, and they can travel to places that larger vehicles can't reach, so when it comes to basic transportation, it's hard to beat a motorcycle.  And while a bike can be viewed as just a tool to get from place to place, it is often also an extension of its rider's personality and sense of style. 

 The fact that a bike is easy to modify and work on means that many owners choose to customize and modify their motorcycles to suit their personal tastes.  This might be something as simple as upgrading a bike's stock speakers with higher quality marine grade units, or as complex as rebuilding a motorcycle from the ground up with custom fairings, paintwork, and a completely custom sound system.  Regardless of what modifications and upgrades an owner chooses for their bike, one of the biggest points of pride in owning and riding a motorcycle is keeping it clean.

Just like any other vehicle, every external part of a motorcycle will come into contact with water, wind, rain, mud, road debris, and anything else that comes with exposure to the great outdoors.   Even if your bike is parked, it will be exposed to the same elements over time if it is not immediately parked inside a garage or covered up with a quality motorcycle cover.  So washing and cleaning a bike will be a process that needs to be done multiple times during ownership, and the more you ride, the more exposed your bike will be to the elements, and the dirtier your bike will get. 

Motorcycle Being Washed with Soap

Importance of Keeping a Motorcycle Clean

Keeping a bike clean is important for several reasons.  The first and most obvious reason is purely aesthetic.  A clean motorcycle looks so much better than a dirty one!  A motorcycle is often an extension of its rider's personality, and bike customization and modification has been around since the early days of motorcycles when an owner would add accessories to make their bike safer and more comfortable.  This evolved into some owners building custom bikes from the ground up to produce a motorcycle that perfectly suits them and their sense of style.  So it makes sense that many of these bike owners want to keep their creations clean, and even if you own a completely stock bike, keeping it clean will give you a sense of pride in knowing that your bike looks as good as it possibly can. 

Another big reason to keep a motorcycle clean is that a clean bike is easier to work on than a dirty one.  Half of any repair job, big or small,  and regular maintenance is keeping the components you are working on or replacing clean so they will function properly, and if your bike gets washed and cleaned on a regular basis, parts will be easier to find, repair, replace, and install. 

Washing and cleaning a motorcycle on a regular basis also allows you to inspect all of its mechanical and moving parts, so you can also think of a good wash as a multi-point inspection that will help keep you and your bike safe.  Keeping all of these parts clean also allows them to last longer due to the fact that removing dirt and debris will increase the longevity of many parts and consumables such as parts that see normal wear and tear from movement and rubber components. 

Some bikes tend to stay dirtier than others, think dirt bikes, adventure bikes, and dual sports, but a clean motorcycle just seems to ride better and is technically a little more aerodynamic with dirt and debris removed, so not only will it perform better, but it will also be slightly more fuel efficient! 

The Necessary Cleaning Supplies

The first step in cleaning a motorcycle is making sure you have all the cleaning supplies you need to get the job done, and to reach the level of cleanliness and perfection that you see fit.  Access to water will be essential, and you will need to be in reach of a reliable water source and have a water hose, bucket, and spray nozzle to help control the water flow.  A pressure washer can be used on a low setting, but it is unnecessary.  Most houses, condos, and apartments have access to a water source, but if you don't,  you can easily ride to a manual carwash facility to clean your bike. 

Other basic supplies include a wash bucket for sponges, brushes, and rags that will be physically used to clean the bike and also soap that is safe to use on paint, plastic, and metal.  It is important to use soap that is safe for use in vehicles because some soaps, such as hand soap and dishwashing soap, might have ingredients that could be harmful to a bike's paint.  Microfiber towels will also be needed for drying and giving a final wipe-down without scratching paint and chrome. 

Specialized cleaning supplies are highly recommended, but not absolutely necessary, and their use will depend on the level of cleanliness you are trying to achieve.  These products are used for cleaning specific areas and materials and include products such as chain cleaner, chrome polish, plastic restorer, wheel cleaner, and leather cleaner. 

How to Prepare Your Motorcycle for Cleaning 

            Now that you have gathered the necessary supplies, it's time to prepare your motorcycle to be cleaned.  The first step is to move your bike to a well-ventilated area outdoors with plenty of space. This will not only give you plenty of room to move around and gain access to all areas of your motorcycle but also keeps you from prolonged exposure in tight quarters to any chemicals found in many cleaning supplies.  And it also helps to find an area in the shade to help keep you cool and keep the components you are cleaning from getting hot. 

            The next step is to remove any loose components or accessories that could easily get knocked off while washing and cleaning, plus this gives you the chance to clean these parts and their mounting points. 

The Cleaning Process

            Now that you and your bike are ready, it's time to start cleaning.  The first thing you will want to focus on is your bike's exterior.  You will start by rinsing off your bike using a hose or water bucket to clean off the loose dirt and debris.  Next, you will wash the bike by applying a motorcycle-safe cleaning solution using a sponge, brush, or clean rag.  After a general washing, it's time to focus on specific areas and components such as chrome, plastic, and painted surfaces, and this is where having specialized cleaning supplies come in handy to ensure you don't damage these components. 

            Next, you will focus on cleaning your bike's wheels and tires.  Brake dust builds up on wheels over time and can easily be removed using a specialized wheel cleaning spray, or using a brush and some good old-fashioned elbow grease.  Tires should be thoroughly scrubbed to remove grime and improve traction, and this also gives you a chance to inspect your tires for wear and dry rot. 

            If your motorcycle utilizes a chain, it will need to be cleaned next, and it's a good idea to use a degreaser to help break down grime and then give the chain a good scrubbing with a brush.  After you have achieved the desired level of cleanliness, you will need to apply the proper chain lubrication to make sure it stays in working order.  This will also give you a chance to visually inspect your chain for wear and make sure it is in good shape. 

            Now that all of the bike's components have been washed and cleaned, it's time to dry it off.  The use of microfiber towels helps ensure that your bike doesn't get scratched while drying off, and the use of compressed air can help speed up the drying process.  Hopefully, you were able to find a spot in the shade to wash and dry off because staying out of direct sunlight helps reduce water spots.  Once your bike is dry, it's time to focus on 'interior' components such as the seat, instruments, grips, and accessories like sound system equipment. If your seat or any other components are leather-based, it's a good idea to treat them with a leather cleaner at this time. 

Now that the cleaning process is complete, it's time to take a step bike and admire your hard work and your good-looking motorcycle before putting away all of your cleaning supplies until it's time for another wash.  While many components on a motorcycle can be cleaned here and there over time, having a completely washed and cleaned bike is a great feeling and will make you want to grab your riding gear and hit the road! 

Upgrading Your Bike

Having a clean bike is a good excuse to add any accessories and make any upgrades you want while your bike is easiest to work on and easy to visualize new parts on.  Maybe you are looking to install a sound system or upgrade your existing speakers, or perhaps you want to install some new fairings or saddle bags, now is the time to do it!  And if you are looking for the best motorcycle accessories to install on your freshly cleaned bike, look no further than Garage Bagger Stereo.  Garage Bagger specializes in motorcycle stereo equipment, but they carry all sorts of accessories to help you customize your bike and enhance your riding experience.

So head on over to, order the best motorcycle stereo components and accessories on the market, install them on your clean motorcycle, and enjoy many happy miles knowing your bike is clean, safe, and built exactly the way you want it! 

This Blog Was Reviewed for Accuracy By Audio Expert, Chris Lowe

Chris Lowe, the esteemed owner of Garage Bagger Stereo, is a globally recognized authority in Motorcycle and Boat Audio systems. With a decorated experience spanning over a decade, Chris has curated audio experiences for enthusiasts and businesses worldwide. His expertise and stellar work are prominently showcased across various social media platforms and can be further explored through the offerings on the official Garage Bagger Stereo website.

Originally hailing from South Georgia and currently residing in Greenville, South Carolina, Chris's fervor for boating and motorcycles is deeply rooted. It's this passion, coupled with his affection for car audio, that has seamlessly interwoven his personal interests with his professional pursuits. This synergy has not only invigorated his daily endeavors but also continually fuels his commitment to excellence in the audio industry.