Wash 'n' go: Best motorcycle cleaning products

Washing a motorbike
Washing a motorbike
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For most people, motorcycle cleaning products aren’t the most interesting, but unfortunately, it’s also essential to make sure it stays bright and fresh for as long as possible.

Regular cleaning protects your bike from attack by dirt and salt from winter riding, and so you should go deeper from time to time, including cleaning your bike’s chain.

Certain areas have their own specific products, too, such as motorcycle chrome cleaner or exhaust downpipe washes.

And you don’t have to stop at your bike, either, there are plenty of products for cleaning motorcycle kit so it stays fresh and performs at its best for longer.

The best motorcycle cleaning products at a glance

So, whether you’re giving your pride and joy a quick wipe down with a waterless wash or going to town on it with foam and a jet wash, here is a selection of motorcycle cleaning products that will make your life that little bit easier.

Best Deals at a Glance

Best motorcycle cleaning products

Tested by Richard Newland for 10 months/30+ washes

Cleaning bikes is sometimes a cathartic way to spend an hour or two, but more often it feels like a chore – so anything that makes it easier, more effective, and faster is a good thing. However, blasting your bike’s delicate bits with an industrial pressure washer is a terrible idea. Enter this compact little unit from Muc-Off.

I was preparing myself to be underwhelmed, as it’s deliberately lower pressure than some options, while the size makes you think it will struggle to dislodge much more than mud from your wellies. How wrong I was. It’s brilliant.

Muc-Off says it’s specifically designed for motorcycles (and bicycles), and it comes with three different lance extensions to match your cleaning needs, as well as a snow-foam diffuser to turn your world (and bike) white.

The unit is mains-fed (both power and water), running a 1200W motor and knocking out 80-100bar of squirt (that’s about 6 litres per minute). It’s cold water only, so don’t connect it to the hot feed. The whole kit also packs away snugly inside the provided drybag, but I tend to leave it unbagged in my garage to allow moisture to disperse.

The power lead is 5 meters in length, and all the fixtures and fittings have so far proved durable. I disconnect the lance hose at both ends and break down the lance with every use, and everything still feels crisp and tight. I also use multiple lances and the snow foam attachment on every wash, so it’s had ample opportunity to show up weaknesses.

In use, the snow-foam diffuser gives great coverage, and uses surprisingly little foam for each slathering. You can alter the strength of the foam/water mix to match how much filth needs soaking. I’ve been using this with the Nano Tech Cleaner spray provided (which is excellent) and also the Snow Foam (£12/ltr or £40/5ltr), which is great for a thorough pre-soaking slathering of dirt-loosening suds.

Once slathered and soaked, it usually requires a little bit of light agitation with a brush before you can blast the grot away with the clean water and your chosen lance for the job. As ever, you need to be careful around bearings and seals, but the jet really does appear to be strong enough for the job, without being damaging.

My verdict: Highly effective, and great value for money.
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    5.0

Best bike cleaning spray (Editor's Pick)

Rrp: $59.99

Price: $52.75

Muc-Off's motorcycle cleaning product can be applied using this spray pump or, as I do, using the company's pressure washer and foam lance. You apply and let it sit for a few moments, then agitate with a brush and rinse. It's very effective on all forms of muck, including dead flies and is biodegradable with no acids, solvents or CFCs. It's also kind to all bike finishes, including carbon fibre, and you can get five-litre refills to cut back on plastic use.

We've tested this motorcycle cleaning product and would spend our own money on it

Pros

  • Biodegradable
  • Smells nice

Cons

  • Not the cheapest

Tested for more than 30 washes

Price: £29.99 (was £44.99)
Tried and tested by Richard Newland for six months - "I use Muc-Off’s Snow Foam with their bespoke bike jet washer bundle, and it’s always the first part of my cleaning regime. Well, the second. First, I give the bike a quick once-over with plain water, blasting off the worst of the gritty muck and detritus, giving the bike a good soak. I leave it to drip for a few minutes, then add the foam dispenser to the lance with a little decanted bottle of Snow Foam attached, and clart the bike in a white-out of foam, and leave it to soak and lift for a couple of minutes.

The foam, even neat and in its gloopiest form, does slide off fairly fast, but leaves a decent layer to do its business. And it does its business well, nibbling away at the muck. I always give it an agitate with a brush before I rinse, then blast it all away to see if ‘round 2’ is necessary. On areas of proper grime (engine, wheels etc) more effort is normally needed – and I’ll use a more dedicated cleaner – but as a primary full-bike wash on all areas of bodywork, it works brilliantly. Smells good, too. Muc-Off claim it’s pH balanced and won’t eat away at wax treatments or any paints/bare metals etc – and I’ve certainly not experienced any negatives from using it. It lasts well, too – I’ve done well over 30 bike washes – and a few cars – and I’ve not quite exhausted the 5ltrs yet."

Pros

  • Effortless to apply
  • Lifts dirt well
  • Smells good
  • Lasts well

Cons

  • Can't shift tough, greasy grime without more effort
  • Quality
    4.0
  • Value
    5.0

Best disc brake cleaner

A cleaning spray that's safe to use on friction components, including brake discs and clutches, to remove grease and dirt. Evaporates completely very quickly after use.

Tested by Simon Relph, 4 months: "I still don't know how I use to get by without disc brake cleaners, especially this one from Muc-Off. Very easy to use, simply give the can a good shake, then give the disc a good blast all over, concentrating on the dirtier areas and places where the dust collects in the hard-to-get-at corners."Make sure this is down outside or a well-ventilated space, as however nice it smells, it is still inflammable. Once the disc and calliper/pads look clean, leave enough time to dry off before wiping down with a dry clean cloth. Quick and easy to use, leaves everything sparkling."

Pros

  • Safe for friction components
  • Removes grease and dirt easily

Cons

  • Very specific use
  • <strong>Quality</strong>
    5.0
  • <strong>Value</strong>
    4.0

Tested by Richard Newland for six months

I love it when a gimmick actually works. Oxford’s entire range of Mint cleaning products is superb, and their bike wash is no exception. I ride all year in all weathers, so I get through A LOT of bike cleaner. 1-litre bottles are a mere aperitif to my consumption, and with bike cleaners being typically pretty pricy, it’s great that this Mint wash is available in a 5L size at sub £20.

That’s probably about £1.35 per wash in winter and £1 per wash in summer. The Mint scent is addictive, and it’s a clever marketing association that actually holds true. After a quick jet wash of major filth and gritty cling-ons, simply give the bike a uniform mist of Mint wash, leave for a couple of minutes, then agitate with a brush to ensure it’s really doing the business, then rinse… I’ve noted zero filmy deposits, residues or negative reactions to any surface/finishes – just a superbly clean motorcycle emerging from the minty freshness. Superb.
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    5.0

Best for quick washes

Alternatively, if you don't have access to an outside power socket or tap but still want to blast your bike with a pressure washer (read our review of the Muc-Off pressure washer), then the Worx Hydroshot Brushless makes the job of cleaning your motorbike much easier.

Thing is, even if you do have a hose, this unit is still very convenient and simpler to set up than having to drag a corded cleaner out for a relatively small job. We've reviewed the Hydroshot Brushless and really rate it.

Read our full Hydroshot Brushless review

Pros

  • Convenient
  • Easy to set up

Cons

  • Not as powerful as a corded pressure washer

Tested by Gareth Evans for five months

I’ve got a lot of time for this useful little gadget. It’s got two functions: dry dusting and cleaning with fluids. I’ve done both, so was glad it’s machine washable between uses.  For a penny under £6 I reckon it’s brilliant value for a reusable microfibre cleaning implement, and the ‘noodle’ element means it’s easy to get right into the nooks and crannies of even the busiest of adventure bike bodywork. It retains loads of fluid too, allowing more to get onto the bike compared with a traditional sponge.  

The elastic strap at the back prevents dropping it on a gritty floor, which adds peace of mind for anyone who’s dropped a sponge or a cloth mid-clean, writing it off as a cleaning tool in the process to avoid rubbing gravel into your perfect paintwork.  In fact, the noodles are so soft that it really feels like you’re looking after your bike, and yet it’s well made and there are no indications of quality issues so far.   
  • Quality
    5.0
  • Value
    5.0

Best for a classic wash

For a good-old bucket-and-sponge wash, you'll need a shampoo, and this one from Autoglym is Amazon's Choice. It's a straightforward shampoo that will help lift dirt, grease and road grime from your bike and leave the paint and surfaces clean and ready for whatever next process you want to apply, whether it leaves it as it is or carry on with polish or wax.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Good value

Cons

  • No wax element

Best for a rapid touch-up

Sometimes, you just want to give the bike a quick once over and can't be bothered to get the pressure washer, bucket, sponge or brushes out. In that case, you need a waterless wash, and this one is Amazon's Choice for 'Showroom Shine'. It gets good reviews online, and cleaning involves spraying it on, wiping it off and buffing up. Water beads nicely, and it brings paintwork up well, apparently.

Pros

  • Gives the bike a quick spruce up
  • Good reviews online

Cons

  • Need to be careful of grit on paint

Best brake and chain cleaner

A best-seller at Sportsbikeshop, this cleaner from Wurth will keep your chain as well as your brakes in top condition. Use it on the chain (more effective when used with a brush, like any chain cleaner) to get rid of dirt, grime and old lubricant and on brakes to get rid of dust, oil and debris.

Pros

  • Cleans chain and brakes
  • Handy aerosol can

Cons

  • Doesn't appear to be biodegradable

Best for a shiny finish

A winner when sister title RiDE tested combined wax and polishes, this one from WD-40 sprays on as a foam so it doesn't run off and brings both paint colour up nicely and adds a protective layer over the top, helping water bead off and reducing dirt's tendency to stick. Combines polish with carnauba wax for paint restoration and protection.

Pros

  • Polish and protection in one
  • Great finish

Cons

  • Small can doesn't go far

Best brush set

Price: £12.87 (was £16.99)

If you are going for a bucket and hose wash and don't fancy a wash mitt, then a set of cleaning brushes, like this one from accessory giant Oxford, will be essential. Four brushes cover just about every application; a soft, general paintwork brush, a long-reach wheel brush, a pronged brush for wheel spokes and a double-density general brush.

Pros

  • A brush for every occasion
  • Great value

Cons

  • Pronged brush is quite weak

Best for heavy soiling

Billed as a simple spray-on, hose-off cleaner, this product from Silkolene is designed for road and off-road bikes, as well as quads and ATVs. It has been specifically developed to spray on and rinse straight off, breaking down dirt and lifting it off the bike's surfaces. It will also clean unprotected aluminium without promoting corrosion and bring the bike up with what the manufacturer describes as a 'factory finish'.

Pros

  • Developed for bikes
  • Good price

Cons

  • Mixed customer reviews

Best for stubborn insects

This cleaner from S100 is a gel that goes on thick and needs spreading out, but once done, it cuts through dirt and grime well, leaving a nice finish. The manufacturer says it dries without needing a chamois or leaving watermarks and protects the bike's finishes. However, worth noting is a warning not to use it on unlacquered aluminium, this means potentially all sorts of fittings on the bike.

Seal of Approval: We've tested this product and have found it performs well

Pros

  • Works well on all dirt and grease
  • High viscosity, so stays where you spray it

Cons

  • Can't be used on bare aluminium

RiDE Best Buy Triangle winner

Winning a RiDE Best Buy triangle in the magazine's cleaner test, the M16 Extreme is another spray-on/rinse-off product that cuts through grime well and, with a little agitation from a brush or sponge, gets rid of the most hardened dirt. The manufacturer claims it will dry streak-free and also that it will not harm aluminium, carbon fibre, stainless steel or any anodised parts.

Seal of Approval: We've tested this motorcycle cleaning product and have found it performs well

Pros

  • Safe on all surfaces
  • Dries streak free

Cons

  • Lesser known brand

Best for the planet

Billed a Proper Cleaner 'by Guy Martin', this starter pack comprises an empty spray bottle and two tablets of cleaning product, one of which is added to the bottle once you've filled it with water. Designed to remove road and track grime, bugs and brake dust, it's safe for all bike surfaces and is biodegradable, alkaline-based and contains no solvents or acids. Proper motorcycle cleaning product.

Pros

  • Biodegradable
  • Ships without water to reduce carbon footprint

Cons

  • None

Best for bare finishes

This spray from Rock Oil will get rid of dirt, oil and grease, is biodegradable and contains no caustic soda, so should be gentle on bare finishes. The manufacturer says it works well with 'minimal' agitation, suggesting it needs working into more stubborn dirt, and it can also be used through pressure washers. The manufacturer does specify it should not be allowed to dry on polished alloy finishes though.

Pros

  • Biodegradable
  • Can be used in a pressure washer

Cons

  • Can't dry on polished surfaces

Best for cleaning plastics too

If merely removing the dirt and grime from your bike isn't enough for you, then look no further than this polish from S100. One application should be enough to remove fine scratches and leave your plastic and painted parts shining brighter than they did from the factory. It's solvent-free too, so you don't need to worry about your decals peeling off.

Pros

  • Good value
  • Ideal for plastics

Cons

  • Small can

Things to keep in mind

Make sure you check the compatibility of any cleaning solutions or chemicals before you use them on your bike. Some motorcycle cleaning products cannot be used on chrome or aluminium, for example, but they will say on the bottle.

If you use a pressure washer, avoid spraying directly into electronic components or switches, down the exhaust or into the air intake. Bearings should also be avoided, and be careful of your decals. If your pressure washer has a lower setting, opt for that.

A coating of general lube or water dispersant spray on a clean bike can lengthen the gap between washes, protect vulnerable surfaces and make future washes easier. ACF-50, FS-360 or Oxford General Protectant are all solid options.

How MCN tests products

At MCN, our team of expert journalists have decades of experience gained over hundreds of thousands of miles. We don’t test our kit to destruction; we use it exactly how you do, in the real world and in all conditions. That means we can deliver impartial buying advice you can rely on.

Each of our writers has an in-depth understanding of the needs of today’s biker… because they are one.

If you can’t see a review against an item on this page, it’s because we haven’t tested it yet. These items will only be included if we think they’re important and relevant in the market, and rest assured, we will be working on bringing you a review as soon as we’ve done the miles.

To find out more, head to our dedicated page explaining how we test motorcycle products.

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