Few things can be as relaxing as taking your motorcycle for a long, leisurely ride after a long work week. However, even the sturdiest of bikes take a lot of punishment while cruising down the open road. Dust, dirt, dead bugs, and all sorts of filth get on your motorcycle. Some people might think of this as just an aesthetic inconvenience, but experienced riders know that allowing that filth to cling to a bike can corrode and weather important components. This is why cleaning your motorcycle regularly is so important.

Cleaning a motorcycle is a relatively simple task you can do at home, especially if you only ride on paved roads. Despite how simple the process can be, there are definitely a list of Dos and Don’ts for washing your motorcycle. Failing to clean your motorcycle properly can lead to several headaches later on in the future, so it’s best to familiarise yourself with how motorcycle detailing workshops, like Clean Getaway, recommend bike owners clean their motorcycles:

DOs:

Wash Your Motorcycle in a Shaded Place

Ideally, you want to clean your motorcycle on a bright and sunny day so you can better see what you’re doing, but try your best to do the actual cleaning in a shaded area. This is because exposing soap to direct sunlight causes the soap to dry up faster, leaving water streaks and soap marks that are quite difficult to remove as your rinse your motorcycle. Save yourself the trouble and work on your bike inside your garage or at least under the shade of a tree.

Plug Up Your Exhausts Before Rinsing

It’s no secret that getting water in your motorcycle’s exhaust system is going to lead to a bad time on the road. Unfortunately, a lot of motorcycle exhausts are angled in such a way that it is relatively easy for water to enter and pool inside. Since there’s no way around using water to clean your motorcycle, you’ll need to make sure you plug up your exhaust pipe prior to rinsing off your bike. You can choose to use a rubber plug from a third-party supplier, or you can simply take a dry, clean rag and stuff it into the exhaust.

Use Two Different Buckets of Water

How many buckets of water should you have on-hand when you wash your bike? The best way to clean a motorcycle is to use two different buckets of water. The filth that has collected on your bike tends to transfer onto your cleaning cloth. As you rinse and wring the cloth in your bucket, the grime from the cloth starts mixing with the water and back into your cloth. Over time, all you’re doing is applying the grime back onto your motorcycle.

Use two different buckets when cleaning your motorcycle: one bucket filled with water and motorcycle shampoo and another bucket filled with clean water. Make sure you rinse your cloth in the bucket with pure water before dipping back into the one with your cleaning mixture.

Use a Microfiber Cloth

When washing your motorcycle, make sure you use an appropriate microfibre cloth. The fibres in this special cloth are specially designed for cleaning, which is why they tend to be incredibly soft. This softness is important because it reduces the chance of accidentally leaving scratches on your paint job. Another advantage of using microfibre cloths for cleaning motorcycles is that these absorb water up to eight times their weight, making drying quick and easy.

DON’Ts:

Use Car Shampoo or Household Soaps on Your Motorcycle

Never use household soaps, laundry detergents, and other types of cleaning products on your motorcycle. The materials used to manufacture your motorcycle are more delicate than you might initially think. Cleaning products that are not specifically designed for motorcycles will often contain harsh chemicals that may damage your paint job or even the metal components of your bike. Play it safe and stick to using motorcycle shampoo, preferably a brand your motorcycle detailer recommends.

Wash Your Motorcycle While the Engine is Hot

If your bike is filthy due to a long ride, you may be tempted to wash it as soon as you get home. This is a good mindset to have, but do make sure you give your bike’s engine enough time to cool down properly. The engine and other metal components of a bike are subjected to a significant amount of heat and washing your motorcycle while these parts are still hot is a nasty burn waiting to happen. Another reason for letting your bike cool down first? Splashing it with cold water from your hose may lead to cracking due to the sudden change in temperature.

Scrub Vigorously to Remove Dead Bugs

Cruising down country roads is a quick way to accumulate a lot of dead bugs on your bike. This wouldn’t be too terrible if the dead bugs weren’t so tough to remove at times. When removing these dead bugs, though, take care not to scrub too vigorously since you might scratch your paint job. Try softening the bugs up with some warm water or spray on a coat of bug remover before you rinse your motorcycle.

Forget to Lubricate the Chain

Although you want to remove grease from the body of your motorcycle, you definitely want to keep it on your bike’s chain. This can be a little difficult since you will inevitably get cleaning spray and soapy water on your motorcycle’s chain as you go through the cleaning process. Lubricating the chain isn’t exactly a step you would expect to see in a how to wash a motorcycle guide, but it’s an important step nonetheless and washing your bike is the perfect time to make sure your chain is well lubricated.