How to Clean Your Motorcycle at Home

New to motorcycle ownership or just looking to take better care of your bike? Our in-depth guide to motorcycle cleaning and maintenance can help keep your machine looking its best.

From day-to-day cleaning to advanced detailing, we’ve covered the basics of cleaning a motorcycle at home, including the tools you’ll need and the steps you should follow. Use the links below to navigate or read on for our complete guide.

Quick Links

What You’ll Need to Clean Your Motorcycle

Cleaning a motorcycle isn’t that much different from washing a car, so chances are you already have the tools you need for the job. That said, there’s a couple of additional things that are useful to have when cleaning your bike, so take a look at our full list of recommended tools below:

  • Pressure washer or hose
  • A set of brushes for cleaning the wheels and chain
  • A sponge or wash mitt
  • Two microfibre cloths (for drying)
  • Two buckets (for a two-bucket wash)
  • A paddock stand (optional, but useful if your bike doesn’t have a centre stand)
  • A power dryer (optional, but brilliant help for drying your motorcycle)

As well as these tools, you’ll also need the right products to maintain your motorcycle to a high standard. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Good quality shampoo
  • Paintwork wax
  • Powerful wheel cleaner
  • Leather protection cream
  • Black plastic trim restorer

washing motorcycle wheels

How to Wash a Motorcycle

Washing a motorcycle is easy, but for the best results, try giving these simple steps a go:

  1. Start by removing as much dirt as possible with a pressure washer or hose. Give the full bike a thorough rinse but be careful not to direct your pressure washer at any bearings or connectors.
  2. Fill two buckets with warm water and mix shampoo into one of them. Using a sponge or wash mitt, give the bike a thorough clean, working from the top down in a circular motion. When you need to replenish your sponge, use the second bucket so as not to contaminate the soapy water.
  3. Cleaning the wheels is the trickiest part of washing a bike. It helps to use a paddock stand, so the wheels can still spin when they’re off the ground. Use a set of soft-bristled cleaning brushes to get in those hard-to-reach areas. A product like Simoniz Iron Active Wheel Cleaner can make light work of stains and brake dust.
  4. From there, you should rinse the bike again, making sure there’s no leftover cleaning residue.
  5. Next, it’s time to dry your bike. You’ll want to be as thorough as possible here to avoid rust. Use a couple of dry microfibre cloths to towel off all surfaces; you can also use a power dryer if you have one, which will make the job easier and guarantee there’s no leftover moisture.

And that’s it, your bike is clean and free from harmful road deposits like salt and grit. You could put it away now, ready for your next ride, but if you want to do a really thorough job, we’d recommend detailing and maintaining your bike using the instructions below.

man cleaning his motorcycle

Detailing and Maintaining Your Motorcycle

Washing is just the start of your bike maintenance routine. There are lots of other detailing tasks that will guarantee professional results, but you should only need to do these a few times a year.

  • Condition the seat – if your bike has a leather seat, you should maintain it with a good quality leather cream. This not only cleans the material but prevents it from drying out and cracking. Apply a few drops of Simoniz Leather Cream to your motorcycle seat and work in with a dry microfibre cloth.
  • Wax the paintwork – applying wax is the perfect way to maintain that just-washed finish for longer. It also protects against corrosion and forms a rust-proof barrier. A spray on wax is quick to apply and will give instant protection and shine.
  • Clean the chain – if you have a paddock stand, it’s well worth having a go at cleaning and maintaining your motorcycle’s chain. Simply lift the back wheel off the ground so you can spin the wheel and spray a dedicated cleaner directly on to the chain. Then, use a brush to clean the chainrings as they pass, before applying a high-quality lubricant.
  • Restore the black plastic trim – if your motorbike has black plastic trim (commonly found on the mudguards or covering parts of the engine) you might find that it fades over time as a result of being exposed to the elements. Simoniz Back to Black Tyre and Trim is perfect for restoring faded plastics, so you can keep every inch of your machine looking like new.

oiling the chain on motorcycle

How Often Should You Clean a Motorcycle?

There are no set rules on when you should clean your bike, but the guidelines below can help you figure out when different maintenance jobs need doing.

  • Pressure washer rinse and dry – ideally after every ride in the winter to remove salt and road deposits
  • Basic shampoo wash – 1-2 weeks, or after every ride in the winter/after a wet ride
  • Wax application – 2-3 times a year, preferably once in the spring and again before autumn
  • Leather conditioning – 1-2 times a month, particularly in the summer
  • Chain maintenance – preferably every time you wash your bike
  • Plastic and chrome maintenance – once a year, or when you notice marks or fading

Bonus Tips for Expert Bike Cleaning

  • Always wash, wax and maintain your motorcycle out of direct sunlight. That way the bike won’t dry and leave residue behind when you’re halfway through the job.
  • Use polish only when your bike has small scratches or swirl marks. Polish removes the paint’s protective layer, so you should apply a coat of wax whenever you’ve polished the bodywork.
  • Apply a rust-blocker to exposed parts of your bike to stop corrosion in its tracks. There are lots of sealants out there, some of which can be considerably cheaper than others.
  • We can’t recommend a power air dryer for your motorcycle enough. This makes drying the paintwork, engine and radiator a breeze, so you can be confident no moisture is left behind.

Cleaning and maintaining your motorcycle may be a labour of love, but Simoniz takes the hard work out of restoring your bike’s just-bought shine. To browse the full range of Simoniz maintenance and cleaning products, visit the homepage today.

Should I Wash My Car in Winter?

Driving in the 1920s Versus 2020s

Which Fast and Furious Car Should You Be Driving?

Don’t Let Salt Ruin Your Car Mats This Winter