Keeping your motorcycle nice and clean should be a part of your regular maintenance routine. The best way to keep your bike clean is to use a properly formulated motorcycle cleaner product, but which one is the best fit for you? There are so many different products on the market, from fully comprehensive all-inclusive detailing kits to simple spray-on waterless all-in-one products, but which product will give you the best results?
Full detailing kits obviously feature a wider range of dedicated formulas, from clean spray on detergents, to part-specific bike wash and bike cleaner waxes. Individual products might not offer such a wide range of cleaning abilities, but they’re generally much quicker and easier to use. A great detailing kit that’s used rarely won’t be as effective as an average bottle of spray cleaner that’s used regularly. Before buying any type of cleaner, it’s a wise idea to identify what kind of motorcycle owner you are: do enjoy spending the time lovingly polishing every metal part of your motorcycle? Or do you think you’re better off with a quick wipe-down that requires almost no time investment?
Either way, buying any of these spray cleaner, polish, waxing, detailing products will help you to keep your motorcycle looking better and lasting longer. Here are the top 10 best motorcycle cleaner products the market has to offer!
Motorcycle Cleaner Buying Guide & FAQ
So which motorcycle cleaner is the best fit for you? You might have noticed that buying a cleaning and detailing kit isn’t as simple as buying the cheapest one you can find. The quality of a product will be noticeable from the first application. And it’s not just the quality of the cleaner that’s important: it’s all the extras that go with it, and the point and purpose of the cleaner in the first place. Do you need to shift grease and grime in a hurry? Or do you prefer to take your time and produce a show-worthy finish? Are you looking for a product that just cleans the bug splatters off of the fairings, or are you looking to go the whole hog and clean every single nut, bolt, and spacer? There’s a lot you need to consider when buying a cleaning kit!
Why You Should Use A Motorcycle Cleaner
Cleaning your motorcycle is an important part of your maintenance routine. If it isn’t already, then it should be. A good clean will remove any damaging particles that could’ve been kicked up from the road, or landed from above. Roads aren’t clean, and they’re often coated with harmful chemicals and grease that can migrate onto your motorcycle and cause lasting damage. Dirt build-ups can lead to rust and corrosion, seals and gaskets perishing faster than they should, and damage to your paintwork and finish. That’s why a regular bike wash is essential.
Now, those bad symptoms that are usually caused by road grime can also be caused by good intentions too. Using dish washing detergents, household cleaners, and other soaps can have similar effects. You might think you’re doing your motorcycle a favor, when you’re actually damaging it. It’s essential to clean your bike with a specially formulated motorcycle cleaner that won’t harm your bike’s metals, paintwork, plastics, and other components. Even car washing products that are suitable for use on even the most sensitive of classic cars might not be suitable for motorcycles. Harsh solvents and chemicals can do more harm than good. Keep that in mind!
Another reason to keep on top of a regular motorcycle cleaning routine is that it gives you the time to get to know your motorcycle intimately, and you’ll be able to visually understand how it works, and identify what parts are in need of replacement or could be trouble in the future. But aside from the potential dangers of auto cleaners and household detergents, why should you invest in a motorcycling detailing product?
Modern motorcycle cleaner products are spray based solutions that come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and in different strengths or with different recipes to provide the right cleaning agent to the right part of a motorcycle. Here are a few good reasons to invest in a proper motorcycle cleaner:
They’re Easy To Use
First things first: they’re the right tool for the job. Having the right equipment makes any job a million times easier. Buying a dedicated cleaning kit means that half of the battle is won before it has even started. A good motorcycle cleaner will be a simple waterless spray that you can point, shoot, wait, and wipe away. The days of pressure washers, foamy bubbles, giant sponges, and wasted Sundays are long gone. The best motorcycle cleaner will be able to do the job in a manner of minutes. However, if you enjoy your cleaning ritual, you can use a wide range of other, more in-depth, products to bring out the best in parts that you often don’t have time to attend to.
Say Goodbye To Dulled Metals
Most modern motorcycle cleaners are in spray form. These new spray-on and rinse-off products don’t contain any chemicals that aren’t friendly to motorcycles, and they don’t take bucket loads of water to be administered either. The lack of direct exposure to water prevents your bike’s metal components from getting dull, grey, and bleached. Thanks to these new spray-on formulas, dated engine casings and the like will soon be a thing of the past.
It Will Make Your Motorcycle Live Longer
Like we mentioned above, getting to know your motorcycle inside and out will help you to keep tabs on your motorcycle’s overall health. That much is obvious. However, you can protect your motorcycle from other part failures by regularly cleaning with a modern bike wash cleaner. Most modern products actively protect your motorcycle’s paintwork and components after they’ve been washed, because they leave behind a thin protective film that inhibits rust, corrosion, and the deterioration of your seals. Not all products do this, but the vast majority do.
What To Look Out For In A Motorcycle Cleaner
By this point, you probably don’t need any more convincing about why you should buy a decent motorcycle cleaner. The question is: what should you be shopping for? And what kind of products offer the best value for money? Here are a few suggestions about what’s available and what you want out of the best motorcycle cleaner products:
All In One Cleaning Products
Since motorcycles are made up different materials with different properties, what’s cleans one part well could be harmful to another. If you’re shopping for a one-size-fits-all motorcycle cleaner, make sure that it has been formulated to clean every part of your bike without causing any damage. There are plenty of benefits to an all-purpose and all-surface cleaner: they’re convenient and take the stress out of cleaning. Make sure you find one that’s gentle enough not to harm your motorcycle, but also tough enough to cut through road grime and other dirt.
Specific Cleaning Solutions
All-purpose cleaners are great, but they won’t match up to good old-fashioned specialized cleaning formulas that are part- and material-specific. When shopping around for a specialized cleaner, make sure you’re buying a product that you actually need. If your bike features a lot of chrome, then you’re going to want a nice chrome cleaner and polish. If your bike has a lot of plastic, then specially formulated plastic cleaners are what you need. Think about every aspect of your motorcycle, such as your leather upholstery, glass, vinyls, chrome-work and plastic.
Cleaning your motorcycle is one thing, but you want that “just washed” look to last, and you want to protect that finish. The best way to do that is by using a good wax. A good wax will leave your motorcycle looking polished and glossy, whilst simultaneously adding a thin protective layer on your motorcycle that will protect it from damage too. Some polishes and finishing products have other wax-like films that can protect your motorcycle, but it’s worth researching to see what type of wax or protective film will give you the best results for your bike. Don’t forget that there are some products that even offer UV-ray resistance, which will protect your plastics and stop them from fading through sun damage.
Fast Detailing Products
Lastly, there’s another kind of product that you might be interested in: waterless, spray cleaners in a can. Some people call these things “detailers in a can” and that’s exactly what they are. If you’re looking for something that you can use quickly and regularly, then this is for you. These cans don’t provide really deep cleans, but they’re perfect for a quick post-ride touch up. They clean and polish without the use of water, and if you’re serious about keeping your motorcycle in tip-top condition, having a can of this nearby will help keep your bike clean and healthy – without you having to invest hours in a strict cleaning regime.
Detailing Kits Vs Individual Products
The vast majority of the products that we’ve listed above are all-in-one detailing kits that feature a selection of motorcycle cleaner and detailing solutions, but we’ve also listed some individual cleaning spray too: so which one should you go for?
A comprehensive detailing kit is a great asset to any garage. You’ll get a small selection of great products that will competently clean your motorcycle. Unfortunately though, these kits generally only feature small size bottle, or a limited selection. A detailing kit gives you the chance to see what products you like, which ones you don’t, and which ones you use a lot of. What we would recommend is investing in a kit, and then restocking it with bigger bottles of the stuff you use the most. Or restocking it with better products (or rather, more useful products to you) from other brands. That way, you’ll always have the right product for the job, and won’t buy too much of the stuff you don’t use regularly.
What Else Do You Need?
Having the right bike wash, care kit, and motorcycle cleaner is only half of the battle. You’re going to need something to apply those products with, and some more heavy duty equipment to help remove the really stubborn dirt. Microfiber cloths are great, but they’re not tough enough to deal with the worst of it. Cleaning products like a good wash mit, wheel brush, chain cleaning brush, sponge, and drying towel, will really help you out.
Similarly, you might need some more niche products to really detail your motorcycle properly. For example, after a thorough wash, you’ll need something to lubricate your chain with if you blasted off the old lube. If your motorcycle care kit doesn’t have a decent leather cleaner in it, you should get one. And if you’re going to be hardcore, a good motorcycle engine cleaner could also be required too – but that’s probably another buying guide for another time! Until then, make sure you’ve got the right tools, the right products, and enough time to give your motorcycle the proper clean that it deserves!
Motorcycle Cleaning FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you wash a motorcycle with dish soap?
A: No. Well, you can but you shouldn’t. Dish soap isn’t the right detergent for the job. It’s often too strong for motorcycle finishes and can end up doing more harm than good. Dish soap can remove any protective wax that might be on your motorcycle, could harm your clear coat, and it could cause you to accidentally scratch your motorcycle as you’re scrubbing away. Special motorcycle wash products exist for a reason, and you really should invest in them if you want your motorcycle to look fresh, clean, and healthy.
Q: Can you pressure wash a motorcycle?
A: Yes – but only if you exercise caution. There are times when a pressure wash may be necessary but unless you’re a dirt bike rider, these occasions should be few and far between. Only use a pressure washer when you’re dealing with some really stubborn dirt. Even then, make sure that you’re careful about which parts you blast with a high-pressured jet of water. Feel free to go nuts on the rims and mudguards, but try and steer clear of anything electrical. The engine can also be pressure washed but take care and don’t flood the thing. Always use some common sense!
Q: What is the best chrome cleaner for motorcycles?
A: The best motorcycle chrome cleaner currently on the market is either Mothers California Gold All Chrome Polish or the Niteo Cyclo No7 Chrome & Metal Polish, depending on who you ask. Both of these products will bring the shine back to your chrome-work and keep it protected. Some riders recommend using vinegar to shine up chrome, while others use Coca-Cola and aluminum foil. While the home remedies sound great, we recommended sticking to tried and tested products such as the two listed above to ensure the best results. The Coca Cola trick does work quite well on really rusted chrome though.
Q: How often should I was my motorcycle?
A: Regularly. Regular washes should be part of your maintenance routine even if your motorcycle looks clean. Washing allows you to get up close with your motorcycle and see how healthy it truly is. But you can overdo it. Too much washing can cause you to wash away lubricants and other protective films. A big wash every couple of weeks is perfect, supplemented with a quick wipe down after every ride, is good enough for most riders. If you’re a dirt bike rider though, with mud and grime everywhere, you should be washing down properly after every heavy ride.
Q: How often should I wax my motorcycle?
A: The answer to this depends on a few factors: who you’re talking to, and how serious you are about paint protection. Some riders are crazy enough to wax after every ride! Other riders are crazy enough to never wax their motorcycle at all! A good balance is to wax your motorcycle every three months, or at the beginning, middle, and end of your riding season. Grab yourself a decent motorcycle gas tank cleaner, and prepare a fresh wax coating, and make sure you look after it. If you think you should be waxing more regularly, do it more often. If you think you’re over doing it, do it less often. Whatever you choose, make sure you take care of your motorcycle and aren’t neglecting it or actively harming it, and you can be sure that you’re doing the right thing.