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How to Clean a Motorcycle or Moped

A motorcycle needs regular cleaning in order to keep it running smoothly – read on to find out how to clean your motorcycle or moped quickly & easily!

There are two very good reasons why motorcycle cleaning should be a priority for all bike owners – not only does regular maintenance ensure that the motorcycle or moped continues to run smoothly, but it also keeps the bike looking its best.

Motorcycle cleaning does take a bit of time and effort, but you can really cut down the amount of time it takes by doing small tasks on a regular basis. Whether you want to know how to remove rust from a motorcycle, or simple strategies for removing dirt and grime – read on for lots of help and advice!

How to Wash a Motorcycle in 8 Steps

One of the big questions in terms of motorcycle cleaning is whether to use a brush or sponge. Of course, everyone has their own preferred method as to how to clean a motorcycle, but the best way is to actually use both of these items. Each is appropriate for a different part of the motorcycle or moped that you’re cleaning. Here’s how to wash a motorcycle using both a brush and sponge!

Sponge:

Sponges should be used for the large or more hard-wearing areas of the motorcycle.

  • On the main bodywork and frame of the motorcycle or moped, but not anywhere else, apply a soapy solution (made with special motorcycle cleaner) either from front to back, or from top to bottom.
  • For stubborn stains, you may need to hold your sponge over the dirt for a minute or two to soften it.
  • Once your sponge becomes soiled, or has absorbed any amount of caked-on dirt, switch to a clean sponge – dirty sponges can scratch the paint and metal. Some bike owners also find that a soft dish towel is a good alternative to a sponge.
  • Rinse with clean water, but remember to do so gently, and if you plan on using a hose, don’t aim the spray directly at any vulnerable areas.

Brush:

Brushes should be used on all other areas of the motorcycle or moped. Not only do they make motorcycle cleaning easier, as they can get into nooks and crannies, brushes can also help to remove rust from a motorcycle as well as protect the delicate parts of the bike from vigorous scrubbing.

how-to-clean-a-motorcycle-or-moped

  • Shocks and brake calipers can be cleaned using a brush. Use a dedicated motorcycle cleaning brush, or any other type of medium-hard bristled brush, such as an old toothbrush, a washing up brush, or even a small paintbrush.
  • Brushes can also be used to clean parts of the exhaust – like the pipes – and the engine, but as these places get hot, remember to allow the bike to cool completely after a ride.
  • Use a brush to apply a degreaser to the chains to make your motorcycle chain cleaner, and a lubricant, too. Once you’ve applied the lubricant between all the chain links, use a microfiber cloth to massage the oil into the chain for optimal results.
  • Don’t forget areas such as the mudguards, number plate, and pivots, but be careful cleaning around any seals. You’ll want to avoid brushing seals, if possible, to prevent them from becoming loose.

What Motorcycle Cleaner Should I Use?

It’s so tempting to simply get the pressure washer out and blast all the dirt and dust off your motorcycle, or to mix up some washing-up liquid with warm water and give a quick sponge down, but neither of these actually make for a very good motorcycle cleaner. Pressure washers are too powerful to deal with the delicate parts of the bike, especially areas such as the radiators and coolers, chains, and wheel bearings. Dishwashing soap, or regular laundry detergent, often contains salts that can damage the paintwork and contribute to corrosion of the metal frame. It’s always best to use a dedicated motorcycle cleaner that can be purchased from any automotive store.

A good quality degreaser can also be used to remove rust on a motorcycle, dissolving oily residue and allowing chains to move more freely without getting caught on dirt and grime. After degreasing chains, use a lubricant to re-oil them, so they can continue to move smoothly.

There you have it: now you know how to clean a motorcycle quickly and effectively, you’ll be able to get it gleaming in no time!

Top Tip


To ensure your motorcycle is safe to ride and running smoothly, clean it on a regular basis. Use a commercial cleaning degreaser to remove build-ups and oily residues on chains.

Key Steps:

Make sure you have the correct cleaning equipment:

  • Specialized motorcycle cleaner
  • Bike degreaser and lubricant
  • Polish
  • Chamois leather cloth
  • Medium-hard bristle brush
  • Sponges