How to Clean a Dirt Bike the Right Way?

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Cleaning your bike is among the most basic maintenance processes. Washing the bike the right way will make it last longer and look better. Cleaning a dirt bike is a technical task, so there is a right and wrong way of doing it. To ensure you do not ruin your motorcycle, you can follow these steps:


How to Clean a Dirt Bike the Right Way?

Remove and Protect the Most Sensitive Components

Dirt bikes require some care before exposing them to water. Since you will direct streams of water to the bike, it is only necessary to remove and cover some parts of it. These elements include:

  • Seats– The foam inside the seat will soak up like a sponge, and then get damaged as it breaks down. Ensure that you reinstall the bolts of the seat to prevent the shrouds from wobbling. If the seat needs cleaning, you can make use of the Simple Green Cleaner and a brush.
  • Air Filter– The last thing that your air filter needs is water, so it is wise to retrieve it beforehand.
  • Bark busters, skid plate, and pipe guard– While these parts will not necessarily get destroyed when washing the motorcycle, they will hide some dirty parts of your bike from getting clean. If you do not get the debris, grease, and grime off these problematic areas, you are setting yourself up for some subsequent issues.
  • Airbox– The airbox should be covered, even if you retrieve the air filter. Some people will fix duct over their bike’s holes, while others will make use of an actual airbox cover. Whichever method appeals to you, just ensure that the airbox is covered.
  • Muffler– Wash plugs are commonly used as mufflers, although they are numerous alternatives that are more affordable and which will protect the engine like duct tape and a sandwich baggie with a strong rubber band.

Hose it Off

After you have taken the preventative measures, the next process is cleaning. Some people may advise you to use pressure washers, but it is not a wise move. They will get the task done easily, but they can potentially damage your machine.

Pressure washers can direct water into sensitive areas on your bike, and cost you a lot in repairs. They can be strong enough to ruin the graphics and plastic pieces on your motorcycle. It is easy to get carried away when using a pressure washer, as the dirt and debris come off effortlessly and easily.

If you have to utilize a pressure washer, take caution particularly near the engine. Be positioned far enough from your motorcycle so that it is not knocked off from the pressure. Employ the power washer on the bike’s tires and plastic and then dial back or utilize a regular hose for the more delicate parts.

A hose fitted with a spray nozzle is the safer option when cleaning a dirt bike. As you hose your machine off, avoid directing the stream to delicate components like the muffler, airbox, or carburetor.

Hosing should loosen the grime and mud that is caked onto the bike. It is useless to include a dirt bike cleaner at this stage since you will be directing it onto thick mud. If you have been on muddy trails, begin under the mudguards, because most of the mucky stuff tends to aggregate here. Proceed to the exhaust and then deal with the bike from one end to another.

Most of the dirt will come off at this stage, but the bike will need more work.

Scrub it Down

After loosening the dirt, it is time to get to scrubbing.

Bike brushes come in handy when you want to get stubborn pieces of grime and mud off your machine. Focus the brushes on spots where dirt builds up like the swingarm, chain, wheels, and sprockets.

Spend adequate time on these areas because build ups tend to bring more problems later on. Do not forget your bike’s underside as chunks of mud tend to hide there.

Examine your motorcycle to ensure that most of the dirt is gone before moving to another stage. You can respray it with water to prevent the build-up from clinging on. The brushes come in kits, and you can browse for the set that appeals to your needs.


The next step includes a soapy solution. You can mix water and dish soap, and it will be effective. The choice of the grade of soap you use will be informed by the nature of the trails you ride your motorcycle on. The soap should be able to combat the kind of dirt that has latched on your bike.

Mix the ingredients in a big bucket to a good lather. A wash mitten, sponge, or a soft brush will work just fine, and you should use it on your bike’s larger spots. Mittens and sponges might not work well in small and tight spots.

Lather the bike well and give it around two minutes, so that it can penetrate to all the dirt. Be careful when lathering so that you do not get it in sensitive areas. Rinse the motorcycle off with water.

Make Use of Bike Wash

If you are unsatisfied that all the dirt has come off, you can use some bike wash on the small spaces. The solution can be used on the sprockets, frame, chain, and engine. Bike wash is also necessary if you are after the shine, and it will address the remaining grime and other residues.

After you spray the bike wash into the areas you have targeted, leave it for a few minutes. Use a soft brush to scrub the bike clean. Ensure that the different spaces are clear of both the grime and the bike wash.

Some people will use a hose to rinse the bikes again. Just ensure that the bike wash has not seeped into places it shouldn’t be, like the brake pads. Among the most popular bike washes among the dirt biking community in Simple Green.

Dry the Bike Off

By this stage, your bike should be free of any dirt residues. Get a clean and dry towel, and you can use microfiber, terry cloth, or cotton. A terry cloth is effective at soaking up most of the water, while a microfiber towel picks up any leftover grime and dirt.

Microfiber is also ideal for the lower fork legs. You can opt for compressed air for smaller and harder-to-reach spots. Compressed air will reduce the drying time and prevent mildew from growing or your bike from rusting.

Check the cables as you dry your machine as it is easy to forget them. You can start your bike and run its engine for a few minutes to heat any water that may have slid into parts of your bike and allow it to evaporate.

Care for the Chain

When washing a dirt bike, pay attention to the chain. The first step is scrubbing it and using compressed air to dry it out. After it is free of moisture, apply some chain lubricant.

If you want to give it maximum care, retrieve it and immerse it into a mild solvent. Use a brush to address leftover grime. Let it dry out before applying chain lubricant. Put your now sparkling chain on to the bike.

Put it Back Together

Once your dirt bike is sparkling clean, it is time to re-assemble it. Retrieve the tapes or plugs you may have fixed to protect the engine.

Important Areas to Clean Like a Pro

There are key areas that need more attention when washing your bike like forks adjusters. When cleaning the shift lever and footpegs, move the pegs and lever tip to be able to clean all the grime out of the springs. Built-up dirt residue will wear out the chain so you should ensure you clean it properly. Pay attention to the shock bumper and the area under the tank.

Extra Tips to Clean Your Dirt Bike

Here are few extra tips that will help you achieve better results when cleaning your dirt bike:

– Wait for the Bike to Cool Down

Cold water and hot metal do not work together, so it is not a good idea to spray the bike with cold water straight after riding it. Sudden temperature adjustments may destroy metal parts or their finish and repairing this will be costly.

You may be wondering about metal hardening at this point. This process follows particular rules keenly in terms of original temperature and cool-down. Simply put, hardening metal parts is an industrial process that is centered on science while washing a bike is a basic and straightforward procedure.

The reactions that unravel during the hardening process are not in any way related to the way you wash your dirt bike.

Your engine blocks could potentially crack in extreme cases, or their finishing will get damaged. The hot pipes are also in danger of getting compromised as is their coating. Wait a while after you take your bike for a run to give it time to cool down.

– Assemble the Needed Materials Beforehand

Washing a dirt bike may be straightforward, but it needs a degree of preparation. It is also more comfortable and easier if you are equipped with all you need. The things you will need include a bike stand, wash bucket, duct tape, compressed air, and washing pads.

Invest in a good scrub wash, as a standard garden hose is not fully-effective on thick, caked on mud. Utilize the scrub as you spray water on the bike, and you can even mobilize a friend to spray as you brush.

A quality bike cleaner will save washing time, and you can use it on the bike’s major parts. Use it on the handlebars, plastics, seats, swingarm, and wheels frame. A degreaser is effective on spots that grease tends to accumulate like the sprockets and chain.

You will also need protective accessories for your bike. A muffler plug will keep water and debris from your exhaust system. An airbox cover is designed to protect you airbox as you wash your bike.

To dry your bike, you first need a heavy towel to absorb most of the water. The towels you get should be gentle enough to avoid scratching the surface or leaving streaks. A silicone spray polish can be used on plastic to prevent debris from sticking so that your work is made easier on the next washing day.

If you just intend to get rid of the layers of mud that have clung on to your bike, the cleaning process can take several minutes. For more thorough cleaning, however, set aside sufficient time to do it properly.

– Clean the Chain First

Dirt bikes present the hassle of cleaning and lubricating your chain periodically. This is quite a dirty job, and it will be easier if you get it done before handling the rest of the bike.

If you use cleaning solutions and brushes formulated for the chain only, there are chances that dirt will spot to other parts of the bike, but you can always clean this residue off. It is wise to utilize products targeted for chain use.

– Don’t Forget to Soak

If you have been on the trail for a while and your dirt bike is covered in residue, it is a good idea to let the dirt soak. A thick mud layer can be frustrating to deal with, and you can get it soaking wet. It will be easier to remove, and you will also not have to scrub excessively and potentially ruin the finishing on your bike.

Some dirt will not respond to this method, including the gunk that accumulates in areas like the front sprocket or places where fuel or oil has leaked and mixed with dust to form grime. Some products will tackle this specific job.

– Do Not Scrub Excessively

If dirt does not loosen even after being soaked or being treated with cleaners, it just needs more of your patience rather than force. Abrasive clothing will only make your bike need a new paint job.

Always utilize soft cloths and add more cleaning solution when dealing with stubborn dirt. Excessive pressure will mostly leave marks on the area’s coating. Repainting bodywork is definitely substantially more costly than taking your time with your machine. Being gentle with a bike will always pay off.


Cleaning a dirt bike is a meticulous process that needs you to be generous with both time and care. Arm yourself with quality accessories before washing so that you can be organized.

The parts of a dirt bike may be optimized for the rough road, but they need gentle care when cleaning to avoid repairing costs.

Josh Berry - MotoShark Editor
Josh Berry
I'm a off-road enthusiast, extreme sport fan and the editor of MotoShark. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding this article, please leave a comment or contact me.

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