Best Motorcycle Cleaner: How To Clean Your Motorbike Step By Step


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Last Updated: 16th February 2021

I swear that motorcycles know when they’re dirty. Perhaps it’s my imagination, but they seem to perform better after a good clean and polish.  

Are they saying thank you?

Cleaning isn’t just for looks. Motorcycles will last longer when dirt and grime don’t corrode parts or deteriorate bodywork.

A clean and well-maintained bike will also hold its resale value.

Our Top Pick

S100 cleaner

S100 Total Cleaner+

Quality German Brand

A great cleaning all-rounder, basically a one-stop-shop. Check SportsBikeShop

Best Brush Set

Muc-Off 5 x Brush Set

Muc-Off 5 x Brush Set

Simple and Cheap

Sometimes you just need to access those hard-to-get-to areas where the real grease and grime sit.

The Muc Off 5 x Brush Set will get to those areas without damaging the surfaces. Check SportsBikeShop

How To Clean Your Motorcycle

hosing motorbike down

Step 1

Do all the washing and shampooing stuff first. That takes away the surface dirt, mud, or grime. It’s hard to polish a bike that’s already caked in dirt.

The heavy-duty dirt removal from chains, sprockets, spokes and wheels should also come before more sensitive cleaning and polishing.

  • Start by hosing your bike down (with an ordinary garden hose) from top to bottom to loosen any dirt or bugs that have accumulated. Rinse several times if necessary to soften up any debris before cleaning

Step 2

  • Use a recommended cleaning agent (reviews below) in line with the instructions. This may be a spray or you may need to add it to a bucket of water
  • Wash your bike from top to bottom using a soft cloth or special brushes (see below). Sponges can pick up grit or dirt that could scratch your bike.
  • Cleaning mitts or microfibre cloths may be a better option but ensure these are rinsed clean regularly so they remain free of dirt (you could utilise the 2 bucket method to avoid this (one specifically for rinsing)
  • Use brushes to remove stubborn dirt and dust that gathers in wheels or other cracks and crannies. A toothbrush or bottle brush is useful for this
  • Once your bike is thoroughly clean, hose down with clean water until there are no further traces of cleaning products

Step 3

  • Let most of the water run off your bike, then dry it thoroughly with a good quality chamois leather or soft microfibre cloth, making sure water isn’t pooling in places that are hard to get to
  • If the water runs off in sheets rather than beading, it could probably do with a polish and/or wax. Use a polish recommended by your manufacturer and follow their instructions for use
  • Treat your saddle and leather accessories with products recommended by your bike’s manufacturer
  • N.B. Keep an eye on the condition of your motorcycle chain and oil if necessary, and remember never to apply any treatment to the tread of your motorcycle tires.

A few Dos and Don’ts

  • Allow your bike engine to cool before cleaning to avoid cracking the engine, damaging the chrome, or leaving streaks and spotting on the bodywork
  • Always use cleaning products recommended by your bike’s manufacturer
  • Wash your bike in the shade. Quick drying in the sun can cause spotting and streaking
  • Avoid pressure washers because they can damage the paintwork, electrical connections, etc
  • Do not use washing-up liquid because it contains salt and can cause corrosion
  • Remove watches, rings, belts with metal buckles, etc. before cleaning to avoid scratching the paintwork

The right materials

Chamois clean

Use the right materials for each job. Here’s a list of items regularly included in a biker’s cleaning box:

After all the cleaning and polishing work has been done then take the bike for a careful ride. Chances are that a few water pockets exist.

A light ride will flush them out and also allow the brakes to be tested at low speeds. It’s possible that cleaning material or water may have entered the system and softened them out.

Cleaning a bike thoroughly offers a great opportunity to inspect the bike.

This attention to detail allows you a close look at each area where you can spot if anything is out of place or doesn’t look quite right.

Reviews

Let’s have a look at our top five products.


SDoc100 Motorcycle Gel Cleaner 1 litre

Best All Rounder

A big concern when cleaning your motorcycle is gaining access to those tricky areas and avoiding damage with aggressive brushing or wiping.

This unique gel formula may be the solution.

Check Prices on SportsBikeShop

S100 cleaner

The SDoc 100’s adhesive properties allow it to stick to the surfaces and work on the dirt. Other more liquid-based sprays may run off before they have a chance to make an impact.

Unlike more specific sprays or gels, the SDoc 100 is kind to the more sensitive areas and hence suitable for cleaning almost the whole bike.

Pros

  • plus iconActive degreaser formula
  • plus iconDries without leaving a residue

Cons

  • minus icon More expensive than other brands
  • minus icon Just a 1 litre bottle. May not give many cleans

Check SportsBikeShop


Motul M1 Helmet & Visor Cleaner – 250ml

The Motul M1 helmet and visor cleaner isn’t a big bottle, but with accurate and effective use, it’ll do the job of cleaning and shining very nicely.

Besides, we’re not cleaning a whole bike here, just the helmet shell and visor.

Check Prices on SportsBikeShop

Motul M1 Helmet & Visor Cleaner

The size is an advantage when keeping the bottle in a pocket or small pouch. Just whip it out, spray your helmet and then put it back again… nice and easy.

Despite being a spray, it has a decent viscosity, ensuring that the liquid doesn’t run away when applied.

Pros

  • plus iconGives a streak-free shine
  • plus iconCompact and easy to use
  • plus iconSmells good!

Cons

  • minus icon Small bottle may not be ideal for heavy and frequent use

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Muc-Off 5 x Brush Set

Top Pick – Brushes

Separating cloths and brushes helps avoid greasy or oily substances from dirtying your motorcycle’s more sensitive areas such as paintwork.

Check Prices on SportsBikeShop

Muc-Off 5 x Brush Set

This collection of five brushes allows that separation and greatly enhances access to those difficult to reach locations.

The Soft Washing Brush with large-sized head for cleaning bike frame and external components.

The Detailing Brush is a more brutal brush for those challenging to reach sprockets, hubs, suspension mounts, and fork crowns.

The Claw Brush is a three-headed brush primarily used for accessing all sides of the chain.

The Wheel and Component Brush covers all areas of the wheel, such as tyres, rims, spokes and centre.

The Two Prong Brush is a good all-rounder for hard-to-shift caked in dirt in otherwise inaccessible locations.

Pros

  • plus iconRubberised impact zones
  • plus iconEasy to use and store
  • plus iconDurable nylon bristles

Cons

  • minus icon A little ‘brush management’ is required

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Silkolene – Fuchs Wash Off

Fuchs Wash Off is a very easy-to-use cleaner spray for any type of motorcycle.

Check Prices on SportsBikeShop

Silkolene - Fuchs Wash Off

Whether applied to plastics or metals, you just spray it on, wait a few minutes and then wash it off with a fresh water hosing.

The Fuchs composite detergents allow safe use on unprotected aluminium, making it ideal for most areas of your bike. Not quite a one-stop-shop but very close and will leave your bike in near-showroom condition.

Pros

  • plus iconEasy to use
  • plus iconGood price
  • plus icon1 litre bottle

Cons

  • minus icon Effective but deep grime may need some additional help to remove

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Muc-Off Miracle Shine Polish – 500ml

Finally, after all the spraying and brushing, you can give your bike a polish and shine.

Check Prices on SportsBikeShop

Muc-Off Miracle Shine Polish

Muc-Off Miracle Shine both polishes and protects through its unique blend of waxes. The Fluoro Polymer Technology provides resistance to water and contaminants, keeping grime and heavy dirt at bay.

The advantage to you is a longer lasting shine between washes. Rainwater slides off the wax layer, leaving your paintwork looking like new.

Pros

  • minus iconContains 3 separate waxes including Carnauba wax
  • plus iconGood price
  • plus iconHalf litre bottle

Cons

  • minus icon Slightly runnier than some polishing liquid

Check SportsBikeShop Check On Amazon


Conclusion

A tidy desk is a tidy mind, goes the expression. A clean and polished motorcycle also says a lot about how we regard our bikes.

Cleaning a bike can also be fun or even meditative. So, with a mug of coffee, some peace and quiet or background music, immerse yourself in the art of motorcycle cleaning and polishing.

When it’s all done, stand back and admire your work. You might even want to ride your bike too!

Safe and happy riding to all.


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Image Credits: All product images via SportsbikeShop