The idea of cleaning your motorcycle may sound easy, primarily if your unit is intended for rugged use. You probably think it’s durable enough to withstand the no-frills cleaning procedures. However, it may not always be the case. You may be doing something that is slowly degrading the engine or introducing problems to certain parts of your bike.

Discussed below are some pointers and reminders on how to clean your motorcycle. Use them to make sure your ride is as clean as you want it to be while avoiding potential damage.

Some parts need gentle cleaning

You can spray pressurized water onto your bike without problems. Most units are designed to survive the elements. However, some parts need extra care. For instance, you can’t just wipe off or spray water into the carburetor, the part where the air and fuel mix to create the reaction that provides power for the engine. The cleaning experts at recommend ultrasonic cleaning to deal with the rust, grease, and other dirt that may accumulate in the carburetor.

Ultrasonic cleaning is also advisable for other delicate parts of a motorcycle, including the injector jet nozzles, brake calipers, cylinder heads, bearings, gear sets, the piston seals, gearboxes, as well as the hoses for the oil and coolant.

Using ultrasound to clean these sensitive parts results in the effective removal of small but significantly obstructive dirt and gunk that affect the performance of the motor. More importantly, it avoids damage to delicate parts. Using strong chemicals, for example, can lead to corrosion or other unwanted reactions. On the other hand, the use of pressurized air or water may dislocate movable and fine parts.

Avoid harsh cleaning agents

Only use cleaning agents that are designed for motorcycles or cars. Don’t use strong chemicals to get rid of stains or unpleasant odors. You may end up damaging the colors and accents of your bike. Also, robust cleaning solutions may seep into the internal components of your unit, which may result in rusting and other damaging effects.

It would be best if you always rinsed off after every wash. Never allow the cleaning chemicals to stay on the surfaces of your motorcycle. They may leave residues later on as the water completely evaporates. These residues don’t only look unsightly; they may also be hazardous.

Motorcycle chains and pressurized water don’t go well together

Avoid using a pressure washer when cleaning the chain. The powerful water jet may not always result in damage, but there’s a good chance that you will see problems later on.

In between the metal links comprising the chain are tiny rubber rings that the strong gush of water may detach. These rings help keep the grease on within the chain while preventing dirt from getting in. Their absence can hasten the deterioration of the chain.

Water and hot engines are also incompatible with each other

Don’t wash your motorcycle if the engine or the pipes are still hot. You may notice that dirt easily peels off the hot surface when you spray some water, but it’s not a good idea. The hot engine, which is made mostly of metal, is in its expanded form.

Drastically reducing its temperature (by pouring water on it) will result in the rapid contraction of the metal. This, in turn, can create problems in the small components or damage the finish of the metal. This simple mistake can be expensive to fix. Allow the engine to cool down on its own as it is exposed to the ambient temperature.

Doing chain cleaning first makes sense

While it’s not a must to clean the chain first, it is advisable to do it, so you don’t forget the task. Bike owners sometimes tend to forget the chain when they do their routine cleaning. A habitual failure to work on the chain can speed up the degeneration of the chain and sprocket kit. There’s no problem if you can afford to replace these parts often. Otherwise, you have to be mindful of the maintenance of your bike’s chain. Clean it, apply proper lubrication, and tighten it periodically or as needed.

Doing the chain cleaning is a logical step since it’s a messy task. You will likely get a lot of grease and gunk on you as you do it. The mess may even spread to other parts of your motorcycle. That’s why it’s better to do it before cleaning other parts. You certainly wouldn’t want to go back to cleaning the parts you have already cleaned earlier all because you did the chain cleaning as the last step.

Soaking helps, excessive scrubbing is a no-no

Soaking means allowing the motorcycle to get wet for some time before doing the actual cleaning. This is done to soften the dirt, thick layers of mud, in particular, that is already difficult to remove. Don’t let it sit for too long, though, as the moisture may dry up and allow the soaked up mud and dirt to harden again.

On the other hand, see to it that you don’t resort to rigorous and excessive scrubbing or brushing. If you encounter hard-to-remove dirt, do the soaking process. It should soften the mess most of the time. If it does not, have the patience to clean your bike gently. Use a soft cloth or brush instead of something textured or hard enough to leave scratches or discoloration on your motorcycle.

Dry the motorcycle and start the engine

After cleaning, don’t forget to run the engine. Test everything to make sure the cleaning process didn’t create problems. Additionally, lubricate the drive chain. Some of the lubrication may have been removed during the wet cleaning process. Apply the lubricant and do a test. Check the brakes to ascertain that they are still working.

Cleaning your motorcycle is not some advanced rocket science that is too challenging to learn. You need to be careful with it, especially when handling small and sensitive parts. Use the right cleaning tools, methods, and solutions. Moreover, make sure that the cleaning does not result in damage or other problems.