Washing your motorcycle: This is how you clean your bike properly

The first beautiful days of spring tempt many motorcyclists to undertake the first longer tour after the winter break. But if you ride a lot, you have to clean your bike of dirt, brake dust, insects and bird droppings afterwards. This is not only necessary for visual reasons, but also serves to maintain the value of your two-wheeler and allows you to identify and eliminate impending defects and defects in good time and to avoid rust. Therefore, you should clean your motorcycle by hand. In this article, you will find out what you need to pay special attention to and which cleaning agents and other utensils you need.

May I wash my motorcycle at home?

For environmental reasons, the Water Resources Act regulates exactly where it is permitted to clean a motorcycle. This is strictly forbidden on unpaved roads and in water protection areas. If you violate this, fines of up to 50,000 euros can be imposed on you. Under certain conditions, however, it is permitted to clean vehicles on your own property. However, this requires a connection to the public sewage system and a device for collecting oil and chemicals, as these must not be allowed to get into the groundwater under any circumstances. If you are unsure whether your property meets these requirements, you can inquire with your responsible municipality whether you are allowed to wash your motorcycle at home or not.

Public wash bay as an alternative

Alternatively, you have the option of cleaning your two-wheeler at a gas station or in a public wash bay. If there is a high-pressure cleaner there, you should be careful with it. It is important to ensure that you aim the jet at your bike and tires from a distance and do not aim in one spot for too long to avoid damage. It is therefore advisable to only use the high-pressure cleaner sparingly, or to use a sponge and brushes, and to soak heavy soiling beforehand.

If you want it to go quickly  – the motorcycle wash

If hand washing takes too long or is too cumbersome for you, you can also visit a specially designed car wash to have your motorcycle cleaned. This takes place fully automatically in a washing cabin, takes only a few minutes and costs between 7 and 10 euros. The bike, which can be a maximum of 2.50 m long, is placed on a turntable and cleaned with special cleaning agents and water and dried after the washing process. Similar to car washes, it is often necessary to clean small, hard-to-reach areas by hand. A major disadvantage of these car washes is that there are not that many in The United Kingdom. However, if you live in Berlin, Recklinghausen or Oberhausen, for example, you can benefit from this service. You can find other places in a list from the ADAC.

Which motorcycle cleaning agents and other utensils do I need?

If you want to clean your motorcycle properly and want to use special cleaning agents for this, you should make sure that your two-wheeler is not in the blazing sun and that it has cooled down before cleaning. This does not affect the desired effect and stains can be avoided. In addition, you should first read the manufacturer's instructions for use, observe the exposure times of the agents and then rinse all treated parts thoroughly with water until no more foam forms.

 In general, the following items are required: 

  • Bucket
  • Sponges and brushes
  • Soft cloth and leather cloth
  • Motorcycle cleaning agent
  • Penetrating oil
  • Chain grease and chain cleaner
  • Polish for painted and chrome parts
  • Care products for plastic and leather parts
  • Rim cleaner

 Alternatively, the following home remedies can also be used to clean your motorcycle : 

  • Glass cleaner, cloth and toothbrush to clean the brakes
  • Oven spray for cleaning the combustion chamber and the valves, which acts for several hours and can then be easily wiped off
  • Flour and cotton cloth to polish chrome parts back to a high gloss
  • Denture cleaner and distilled water to clean the headlight reflectors
  • Heat gun to remove old stickers
  • i Grease cleaner without abrasive particles or oven spray to clean the aluminum rims
  • Baking soda and a lint-free, damp cotton cloth to clean the carburetor body
  • Mixture of salt and vinegar to make copper parts shine again
  • Two to three tablespoons of citric acid and one liter of water to clean the aluminum die-cast parts
  • Undiluted vinegar cleaner and interdental brush or pipe cleaner for cleaning nozzles and Needles

How do I properly wash my motorcycle?

Once you have found a suitable place and your bike has cooled down sufficiently, you can start cleaning.

 The best way to do this is as follows: 

  1. Soaking heavy soiling: syringe hose down your bike first to soak away stubborn dirt and make washing easier afterwards. Then spray on the motorcycle cleaning agent, making sure to spray the hidden areas as well.
  2. Cleaning the motorcycle: After the exposure time specified on the product, you can scrub your two-wheeler thoroughly by hand with a sponge and water. Wash the sponge regularly to avoid scratching the paintwork and other sensitive parts with small stones and dirt particles. If stubborn insect residue is difficult to remove, you can use an insect remover or sponge. We recommend using a special brush or a standard household bottle brush to clean the motorcycle rims, springs and engine fins. Once you're done with that, you can hose down your bike until there's no more foam.
  3. Chain cleaning: Dirt often accumulates on the motorcycle chain, which is why it should be cleaned thoroughly about every 1500 km. However, if possible, clean them before the actual motorcycle wash so that the already clean bike is not dirty again afterwards. If it is heavily soiled, you can use a steel brush. Then apply a chain cleaner and leave it on long enough. After you have washed it off, you still have to lubricate the chain with a special chain grease to protect it from moisture and rust.
  4. Brake cleaning: Either a special brake cleaner or bit cleaner can be used for this. This is important to preserve brake performance and reduce squeaking.
  5. Cleaning the aluminum and chrome parts: It is best to use a special polish to clean your rims, the rear silencer and other parts made of aluminum and chrome, such as the fork tubes.
  6. Care of the motorcycle seat: Clean the Seat your two-wheeler with either a special care product for leather/imitation leather or household washing-up liquid and a soft, lint-free microfibre cloth.
  7. Polishing the motorcycle: After thorough cleaning, the bike must be carefully dried. This is best done with a leather cloth. Then use a soft microfiber or polishing cloth to apply a paint care product to the painted parts to polish them back to a high gloss and protect them from aggressive dirt particles and environmental influences.


Regular cleaning is necessary to ensure that your bike always shines, you avoid the formation of rust and you can identify and rectify possible defects at an early stage. There are special motorcycle cleaning sets for this, but also many home remedies that are ideal for gentle washing by hand. The use of a high-pressure cleaner should be avoided if possible, as it can quickly damage plastic parts, tires and other components if used incorrectly. In any case, make sure to dry your two-wheeler thoroughly with a leather cloth after cleaning and carefully dry hard-to-reach areas with compressed air. 

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