Motorcycle cleaning: Tips for two-wheelers

Being able to experience the feeling of freedom again. This is how many motorcycle owners feel when the temperatures rise in spring and the motorcycle season gets underway. But before hitting the road, your favourite two-wheeled vehicle needs to look its best for all its upcoming trips. The rims, bodywork and engine in particular need special care - not only for visual reasons, but also to ensure that they work properly. These tips will get your motorbike back to its old shiny self in no time.

A man cleans his motorcycle with a Kärcher pressure washer

It’s not just about looks

When the first rays of sunshine make an appearance at the beginning of the year, many motorcycle owners can hardly wait to finally get their vehicle back on the road. For the big occasion, it helps if the motorbike is properly spruced up and cleaned. Owners have to be careful, however, when cleaning their motorcycle because the electronics as well as the engine and the chain are very sensitive parts.

Washing a motorcycle is not just about making it look presentable, it is also a good opportunity to ensure that the two-wheeler is roadworthy. This includes checking the tyre pressure, tread depth and the thickness of the brake pads, for example. If the motorbike is stored in a garage or carport, it’s especially important to check the electronics and brake function.

The right place for washing a motorcycle

Before starting to wash the motorcycle, it is important to know what local legal regulations apply. It is prohibited to clean motorcycles outdoors in some countries. This is because oil and chemicals can seep into the soil and contaminate the groundwater. Motorcycle owners should therefore always inform themselves in advance about what is allowed and what isn’t.

If you want to be on the safe side, you could drive your motorcycle to a designated place or to a wash box to clean it. These are usually equipped with oil separators and collection devices that separate the dirty water from the sewer system - ensuring that the water drains away in an environmentally safe manner.

A man cleans his lying-down motorcycle in a Kärcher wash box


Before you begin cleaning, the bike’s engine should always be allowed to cool down first. If water and cleaning agents manage to find their way into the inner workings of the machine, this can cause massive damage to the engine, for example.

Remove coarse dirt from the motorcycle

If your motorbike has been in the garage or carport for a long period of time, it’s no doubt going to be a little dirty. Not only dust, but also spiders and bugs have probably made the handlebars or the spokes their home. After intense trips, the two-wheeler will also be covered in dead insects and brake dust. High time for a wash! Here’s how to clean the motorcycle.

To remove dust or pests, the best way is to pre-treat your motorcycle with a wet and dry vacuum cleaner. This allows you to quickly and easily suck up the dust from the gaps and cobwebs or stuck-on dirt on the surface. This means that dirt is not simply moved from one part of the motorbike to another during cleaning.

Clean the sensitive parts of the motorcycle first

Since many parts of the motorcycle are exposed, it means that some are particularly sensitive such as the engine and the chain. It is important to make sure the motorcycle chain is properly cared for and maintained - it should be cleaned every 300 to 500 kilometres. If not, it could wear out quickly. In addition to a weaker performance, this is also a safety risk, as the chain can fly off or even break.

The most important aspect for a functional motorcycle chain is its lubrication. If dirt and dust particles mix with the chain grease, the lubricating effect is reduced and the chain wears out. This happens especially quickly on rainy days, when moisture and road dirt settle on the chain. Therefore, it is not only important to relubricate the chain at regular intervals, but also to clean it as soon as it becomes dirty. How often you do this depends on how often you ride and the kind of terrain you ride on.

Kärcher: Clean the motorcycle chain with chain spray

If you want to clean your entire motorcycle in one day, you should first clean the chain and then the bodywork. If you leave the chain until the end, the oily residues could contaminate the freshly washed two-wheeler again. The first step is to remove coarse dirt from the chain with a wire brush before using a special chain cleaner. Leave it on to work its magic then simply wipe it off. After cleaning, lubricate the chain with a special chain spray. This makes it supple and protects it from corrosion. To ensure that the chain spray sticks properly, it should only be used on a clean and dry motorcycle chain.

Motorcycle is cleaned with the soft wash brush from Kärcher

The heart of the bike should also be treated with care. This is because many models come with parts of the engine exposed - such as the cooling fins - which could be damaged during washing. If you want to clean the motorcycle’s engine carefully, it’s best to reach for a sponge, a soft brush and a bucket filled with warm water and some concentrated car shampoo. Use the sponge first to wash the surface of the engine and then the brush to carefully remove dirt from the cooling fins and smaller gaps. Then rinse with clean water.

Wash the body of the motorcycle

Motorcycle is sprayed with Kärcher Bike Cleaner

After the sensitive parts of the motorbike have been cleaned, it is now time to give the bodywork and fairing a thorough clean. Proper cleaning is not only necessary for off-road motorcycles such as motocross and enduro bikes, which are often ridden over very dusty or muddy ground. By regularly cleaning and caring for the motorbike’s parts, you help maintain the value of the vehicle. Heavily soiled areas should be cleaned with a gel cleaner, because the gel sticks well to vertical parts and doesn’t drip off. Thus, even hard-to-reach areas can be cleaned effectively. The bike cleaner is very easy to apply thanks to the spray bottle and is highly effective at removing mud, road grime, tyre wear and oily dirt.

Kärcher insect remover is sprayed onto the motorcycle’s headlight

If you wash your motorcycle, don’t forget the headlights, exterior mirrors, indicators and windshield. Insects often stick to these areas after a long ride and especially in the summer months. These surfaces should be treated separately so that visibility isn’t impaired in any way. An insect remover effectively dissolves insect residue without damaging the plastic, paint, trim or aluminium parts. Again, when using this product, leave it on for a short time and then rinse thoroughly with clean water. Alternatively, a damp kitchen towel can be placed on the spots to soften the insect remains so that they can be removed more easily.

Wash the motorcycle with a Kärcher pressure washer

To remove stubborn dirt after soaking, gently go over the motorbike with a wet sponge. However, make sure to regularly wash it out with water to prevent dirt particles and oil or grease from being spread over the bodywork. If you want to clean the surface of the motorcycle quickly and effectively, it is best to use a pressure washer. To do this, you can use car shampoo. Depending on the pressure washer model you have, pour the shampoo into the Plug & Clean opening or connect it to the pressure washer using a suction hose. Apply with low pressure from top to bottom. Alternatively, the Ultra Foam Cleaner can be applied using a foam nozzle. This is simply plugged onto the gun of the pressure washer and enables the cleaning agent to be precisely dosed.

Wash the motorcycle with a Kärcher rotating wash brush

To thoroughly clean delicate paint surfaces, you can also attach a rotating wash brush to the pressure washer. With the special Interchangeable Attachment Car&Bike which is made of microfibres so even stubborn dirt can be easily removed without damaging the surface. Afterwards, just rinse with a little clean water until the residue is completely removed.


If you want to use a high pressure appliance, you should select the “Medium” setting on the device and ensure there’s a minimum distance of 15 centimetres between the appliance and the bike. Otherwise, the high pressure can damage plastic parts or seals on the motorbike.

Clean the rims of the motorcycle

Motorcycles rims are often a real eye-catcher. Chrome rims in particular are impressive due to their shiny appearance. Depending on the road surface, however, they can be badly affected by dirt such as mud or brake abrasion. To restore the rims to their former glory, they should be properly cared for. A special rim cleaner, which removes all road dirt as well as brake dust and tyre wear on all common types of rims should be used for this purpose. Spray the rim cleaner on the dry rim and wait for it to take effect. The integrated active indicator makes the rims turn a reddish colour while the solution is working its magic. This is so that motorcycle owners know when the deep clean has finished and the rims can be rinsed with clean water.
A wheel washing brush ensures 360-degree cleaning - even in hard-to-reach places and in the smallest of gaps. The brush is simply connected to the pressure washer’s gun. Water is distributed evenly to dissolve as much dirt as possible, which is then rinsed off.

Kärcher rim cleaner is sprayed onto the motorcycle rims
Motorcycle rims are cleaned with the Kärcher wheel washing brush

Dry and polish the motorcycle

It is particularly important to dry the motorcycle properly after washing it. Sunny days with mild temperatures are therefore best suited. Nevertheless, damp areas should also be thoroughly wiped with a leather cloth otherwise water marks will quickly form, especially on the seat and the paintwork. If you wash your motorcycle, you should also make sure that no moisture gets into small gaps as this could cause corrosion in the long term. The wet and dry vacuum cleaner comes in handy here. The blow function can be used to remove water residue quickly and effectively from smaller crevices. Alternatively, the moisture can be sucked up directly using the suction function.

For painted parts, applying a paint care product is recommended after drying. Products with a high wax content offer a particularly in-depth clean and long-lasting results. This ensures a perfect shine and protects the motorcycle from adverse weather conditions. Now the motorbike is ready for the next motorcycle season.

Motorcycle is dried with a soft microfibre cloth from Kärcher

Suitable products for your motorcycle:

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