Different types of bike wash explained (2023)

Long story short – Here we discuss the different types of bike wash in India and their pros and cons in detail.

Bike or motorcycle wash is a necessary aspect that comes under maintenance and care of a motorcycle. A motorcycle is a naked vehicle that can accumulate much dirt and debris compared to a car. Several methods and techniques exist to clean the motorcycle, from plain water to advanced chemical wash. All are equally good but have their pros and cons. The big thing to consider is the amount of time, facilities, and types of equipment you have. So we must consider all these factors before selecting a bike wash type.

The rising pollution and challenging environmental conditions will undoubtedly take a toll on your bike. Hence the effort and time needed to care for our bike will increase exponentially. Basic knowledge related to motorcycle wash types is mandatory. Motorcycle companies try to incorporate the best exterior materials that stand the test of time; even then, our primary care is needed. Our purpose here is to guide and make you select the correct washing technique for your motorcycle. We will discuss each washing technique’s advantages and disadvantages in detail.

Different types of bike wash or motorcycle wash

Water wash

The most basic and affordable type of washing. All you need is a water hose or bucket with water. Other equipment needed is just microfiber cloth, both dry and wet. The wet one is soaked in water to clean the dirt, while the dry one wipes water marks after drying.

Pros of water wash

  1. Cheap and affordable.
  2. Less equipment.
  3. Suitable for home.

Cons of water wash

  1. Water requirement is high.
  2. Tough to remove hard stains.
  3. Water can be acidic or alkaline, which is bad for the bike.

Diesel / Kerosene wash

Another method of motorcycle washing for home. It is very similar to water washing only difference is that diesel is used instead of water. Best for oil and grease stains and prevents rust formation to some extent. Compared to water wash amount required is less. But the main disadvantage is that it can reduce and damage paint quality on metal and plastic surfaces. Diesel wash can be considered for parts underneath the motorcycle.

Pros of diesel wash

  1. It can remove some hard stains.
  2. Best for washing underneath the bike.
  3. Prevents rust formation to some extent.
  4. Removes oil and grease stains effectively.

Cons of diesel wash

  1. It can damage paint permanently.
  2. Expensive compared to water washing.

Shampoo wash

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One of the best methods to wash the motorcycle. There are a lot of dedicated automotive shampoos out there in the market to do the same. The major USP of shampoo wash is that it makes water pH neutral. Both acidic and alkaline water is not good for bikes. Accessories needed for shampoo washing are water, two buckets, two microfiber cloth, and shampoo. One thing to note here is to avoid getting mistaken by the regular shampoo we use for our hair with bike shampoo. Both are meant for different purposes and never use detergent or household cleaning liquids. Shampoo wash can be done at home and by professional teams.

In-home, we can implement two bucket washing method for the shampoo wash, and the steps to do the same are

  1. Take water in two buckets, with one having slightly more water.
  2. Add bike shampoo to the bucket containing less water per quantity.
  3. Dip the microfiber cloth in shampoo water and start cleaning the bike from top to bottom, as bikes have more dirt in the lower area.
  4. Next, wash the dirty microfiber cloth in another bucket and remove the maximum dirt.
  5. Now repeat steps 3 and 4 for the entire bike. One thing to take care of is never wash dirty microfiber in shampoo water. The purpose here is to keep shampoo water as clean as possible.
  6. After cleaning the entire motorcycle from top to bottom, let the motorcycle dry for some time and then use a dry microfiber cloth to remove mild stains.
  7. Do not perform a wash when the motorcycle is hot or under direct sunlight.

Pros of shampoo wash

  1. Very effective cleaning method.
  2. It can remove hard stains.
  3. Protects paint and other surfaces.
  4. Makes water pH neutral.
  5. Simple and for home.
  6. Removes grease and oil stains.

Cons of shampoo wash

  1. Water requirement is high
  2. Time-consuming method
  3. Need more accessories.

Foam wash

The best method to wash the motorcycle out there. It can remove all types of stains and dirt in much less time compared to shampoo wash. But the downside is that the equipment needed for the same is high, and it is better to get it done by a professional cleaning team. Foam wash can be done at home, but you must buy several pieces of equipment, which requires enough area or space to do the job.

A pressure washer and foam sprayer cannon are required for foam wash. These are the primary tools and are pretty expensive. Now let’s discuss the steps or process to do the foam wash for your bike.

  1. First, keep the bike on a centre stand or a paddock stand.
  2. Then, using water and a pressure washer, wash the motorcycle at an adequate distance between the pressure washer and the motorcycle so that parts are not damaged.
  3. Now fill the foam sprayer cannon with mentioned shampoo and, using a pressure washer, apply it all over the bike at a safe distance.
  4. Wait 5-10 minutes to settle the foam over the motorcycle, then wash with water using a pressure washer.
  5. Now allow the motorcycle to dry. After 1-2 minutes, use a microfiber cloth or blower to clean and remove water or watermarks.
  6. One thing to care about is not washing from a single angle for a long, as water can get into critical components.
  7. Do not perform a wash when the motorcycle is hot or under direct sunlight.

Pros of foam wash

  1. Very practical and removes all types of stains and dirt.
  2. Short work duration.
  3. Protects paint and other surfaces.
  4. Removes grease and oil stains.

Cons of foam wash

  1. Water requirement is high
  2. Requires a lot of equipment
  3. Expensive
  4. Requires enough work area or space

Dry wash

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This method is for motorcycle owners where water scarcity is high, or it is a drought-affected area. For this, three accessories are required, a dry wash spray gun, a dry wash solution spray can and a microfiber cloth. This method has a lot of similarities to foam wash.

Now let’s discuss the steps or process to do the dry wash for your bike.

  1. First, we need to prepare the solution. As the official instructions mention, mix minimal water with dry wash solution spray.
  2. Pour the new solution into the dry wash spray gun and keep the maintained pressure in the spray gun per the official instructions.
  3. Keep a 2-3 feet distance between the spray gun and the motorcycle and apply the foam evenly across all surfaces.
  4. Now clean the surface with a microfiber cloth, and do not use a regular cloth.
  5. An important note is do not allow the foam to dry and clean immediately after application.
  6. Do not perform a wash when the motorcycle is hot or under direct sunlight.

Pros of dry wash

  1. Very practical and removes all types of stains and dirt.
  2. Short work duration.
  3. Protects paint and other surfaces.
  4. Water requirement is very low.

Cons of dry wash

  1. Slightly expensive.
  2. The time taken for the removal of heavy dirt is high.
  3. Not suitable for very a dirty bike.

As we had discussed different types of bike washing, let’s answer some doubts and queries related to motorcycle wash.

Can we use ordinary cloth for bike wash?

No. Always use a microfiber cloth for washing, as it prevents scratches and removes dirt effectively.

Can we use regular soap and detergent for motorcycle wash?

No. Both contain chemicals that are harmful to paint and reduce quality. Always use automotive shampoo for the same.

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Can we use pressure wash for the bike?

Yes. One thing to note is that maintain a 2-3 feet distance between the pressure washer and the motorcycle.

Is water pH a vital factor to consider for bike wash?

Yes. Both acidic and alkaline water are not good for bike wash. Either use filtered water or a pH-neutral automotive shampoo that makes water ph neutral.

When to have a professional wash for your bike?

If you have limited time and accessories, opt for a professional wash. Also, if you have limited space or no garage area, then also you consider a professional wash.

Is it ok to wash the bike with diesel?

No. Washing bikes with diesel results in losing paint quality and can also lose glossiness. But it can be used for washing underneath the motorcycle to remove hard stains.

How much distance should be there between the pressure washer and the motorcycle?

In order to prevent damage of paint and parts, keep a distance of around 2-3 feet.

Which is the best type of bike wash for water scarcity areas or drought areas?

Dry wash is the method if there is a water scarcity issue.

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Which is the best type of bike wash at home?

Water or shampoo wash is best if you clean the bike at home, as the equipment required is low and the minimum work area is required.

Which bike wash is best to remove hard stains and dirt?

Foam and shampoo wash is the best one for hard stains and dirt.

Can we perform a bike wash in an open area?

Yes, but it must be under a sunshade. Washing under direct sunlight damages paint and exterior materials.

Should the bike be in the centre stand while washing?

Yes, It is for safety purposes, and if the centre stand is unavailable, use a paddock stand.


We have discussed different types of bike wash along with their pros and cons. The two-bucket washing method and steps for shampoo and foam wash are discussed in detail. Some FAQs related to motorcycle wash are also explained. Now let’s summarize the different types of bike wash.

  1. Water wash
  2. Diesel / Kerosene wash
  3. Shampoo wash
  4. Foam wash
  5. Dry wash

If you have any other doubts or queries related to the same topic, email us at [emailprotected]. Also, there are several social media platforms of Bikeleague India to raise your suspicions.

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Different types of bike wash explained? ›

Soap / general cleaner: Use diluted dishwashing soap or preformulated bike wash cleaner for frame cleaning. Degreaser: A bike-specific degreaser (avoid kerosene or turpentine) will clean up gummy parts like your bike chain. Choose a solvent that is easy on the environment (and you). Dispose of all solvents properly.

What is the best thing to wash your bike with? ›

Soap / general cleaner: Use diluted dishwashing soap or preformulated bike wash cleaner for frame cleaning. Degreaser: A bike-specific degreaser (avoid kerosene or turpentine) will clean up gummy parts like your bike chain. Choose a solvent that is easy on the environment (and you). Dispose of all solvents properly.

What is the difference between drivetrain cleaner and chain cleaner? ›

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIO CHAIN CLEANER AND BIO DRIVETRAIN CLEANER? The main difference between the two products is the format and application of them. The Bio Drivetrain Cleaner is a pourable liquid degreaser in a bottle and the Bio Chain Cleaner is a fast acting aerosol.

Which liquid is used for bike wash? ›

Pidilite Motomax Bike & Car Shampoo, Washing Liquid - 100ml : Amazon.in: Car & Motorbike.

Is pressure wash good for bike? ›

Simply put, it is safe to pressure wash your bike, but like pro mechanics, you should follow some basic guidelines so as not to do any damage.

Is Dawn dish soap safe for bikes? ›

Dawn cleans and cuts grease better than many of the bike-specific soaps, and other dishwashing liquids, which is why it's preferred by many bike mechanics, and dedicated riders. Dawn is easy to find, affordable, and it's just plain effective in cleaning your bike. However, any standard dish soap will get the job.

Can you use Dawn dish soap to wash your bike? ›

Do use a grease-cutting soap like Dawn dishwashing liquid. There's a huge difference in cleaning power between different brands and types of soaps. Lots of bike mechanics stick with Dawn dishwashing liquid because it cleans and cuts grease better than so many of the wannabe dishwashing soaps.

What is the difference between carb cleaner and parts cleaner? ›

Ask any mechanic, they will tell you carburetor cleaner is for cleaning carburetors, and brake and parts cleaner is for cleaning brakes, parts, and other things. On the surface, they basically do the same thing: clean grease and grime.

Is WD-40 good for chain cleaning? ›

In summary, WD-40 is great for cleaning and degreasing your chain, but doesn't work well as a lubricant. It will provide some small amount of lubrication, but nowhere near enough for your bike chain to run smoothly. It's best to use a high-quality, bike-specific lubricant instead.

Can we use WD-40 to clean motor bike chain? ›


So WD-40 is still great for cleaning the chain, but you should wash away the remnants with soap and water, then follow it up with a good quality motorcycle lubricant.

Can I use isopropyl alcohol to clean my bike? ›

It's a good idea to get a clean paper towel or rag and wipe your rims and brake discs (if you have them) over with degreaser or brake cleaner to help remove any contaminants. Isopropyl alcohol is also great for this.

What is foam wash for bike? ›

It is used with foam canon in ratio 1:9. Its powerful hyper surfactants cut through dirt and grime, lift them from sensitive automotive paintwork. Its a pH neutral shampoo and generates extreme heavy suds that clean the surface and gives natural shine. For best results use the product with foam gun.

Should you wash your bike after every ride? ›

For road bikes, we suggest degreasing and "re-greasing" your drivetrain every 100 miles. For mountain bikes, you should clean your bike after every muddy ride or every couple of weeks with regular use in dry climates.

How often should you wash your bike? ›

We recommend cleaning your road bike monthly (or every 20 to 25 rides) and a mountain or 'cross bike more often. If you need some guidance, watch the video above for a demo on how to properly clean a bike, and keep reading for a few tips and tricks to make the cleaning process less of a hassle.

Can I wash my bike at a carwash? ›

Avoid using the high-pressure sprayers you find at pay car washes to clean your bike. The soaps can be corrosive, and the high pressure forces water into bearings, pivots, and frame tubes, causing extensive damage over time.

What household items can I use to clean my bike chain? ›

You can use hot water with dish soap, a solvent or a degreaser. Step 2 Place the removed bicycle chain into the pan or plastic tub. Soak the chain for one to two minutes. Step 3 Remove the chain from the cleaning solution.

Is it OK to wash bike with shampoo? ›

You can wash your bike with shampoo, nothing wrong in that. But shampoos are not as powerful as the soap oil used at workshops. Even then it will do the job just as good.

Is Dawn a good bike degreaser? ›

Dish soap is the best item for cleaning bike chains. It breaks down grit and grime without being too abrasive, and without completely removing the necessary grease on the chain.

How do you make your own bike wash? ›

Here's what I did. I take a spray bottle, fill half of it with tap water and the other half with Simple Green. Spray it on your bike, let it sit for a few seconds, then wipe away clean! The diluted Simple Green gets all sudsy and cleans up the bike nicely.

Can I use WD-40 instead of carb cleaner? ›

WD-40 allows you to clean your generator carburettor within a few minutes without spending additional time and effort. The potent liquid uses a solvent formula for breaking away carbon contaminants within the carburettor, providing you with a clean and healthy machine in no time.

Where should you not spray carb cleaner? ›

Carburetor: Spray to both ends of the choke valve shaft while working choke by hand. Spray down and around the carburetor throat to remove deposits from the throttle plate area. Do not spray down carburetor throat with engine off. Do not spray below throttle plate.

Does carb cleaner damage rubber? ›

Carburetor Cleaner

This cleaner is also safe for rubber, vinyl, and neoprene. If your carburetor has these types of seals or gaskets, you won't need to rebuild your carburetor after cleaning.

Should you lube your chain after cleaning? ›

Lubricate the chain regularly and after each cleaning. Before lubrication, the chain must be dry. Always lubricate only the moving parts of the chain. In dry conditions, remove excess lubricant with a cloth.

How often do you need to lube a bike chain? ›

When should you lube your bike chain?
  1. Normally every 100-150 miles or once a week if you are riding most days on pavement in dry conditions. ...
  2. For mostly dry riding on pavement, use oil-based lube.
Mar 18, 2022

How long should you leave WD-40 on a bike chain? ›

The degreaser not only does the job of cleaning your chain but also makes the process much faster and simpler. Once you have washed the chain off all the dirt, spray the WD-40 degreaser and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. This will effectively degrease your bike chain and make its functioning more effective.

Is it better to wax or oil a bike chain? ›

Deciding Whether Lube or Wax is Best for You

If you're going to be riding in especially wet, dusty, or dirty conditions, or if you prefer a lubricating agent that's long-lasting, then chain wax is probably the best option for you. For the average road-rider, we recommend chain lube for its expediency.

When should you not use isopropyl alcohol? ›

Avoid rubbing alcohol on painted, shellacked, lacquered, or varnished surfaces, including treated wood. Certain fabrics: The isopropyl in alcohol can be a great stain treatment on certain fabrics, removing all evidence of difficult stains like ink, grass, grease, or sap.

Is rubbing alcohol better than isopropyl? ›

Rubbing alcohol is better for use in first aid and to sterilize small objects or surfaces. If the isopropyl alcohol concentration in rubbing alcohol exceeds 80%, it loses some antibacterial properties. The higher concentration also makes it more hazardous and inappropriate for home use.

What is the difference between foam wash and normal wash? ›

Its foam can handle the big particles that a regular car washing shampoo cannot, as it is more penetrative and ensures that dirt loosens fast and easily to leave the vehicle's surface less prone to damage during the cleaning process.

Is seafoam good for bikes? ›

Sea Foam eliminates water and moisture in your fuel, and strips the power-robbing buildup in your fuel system, injectors, and valves. For motorcycles, only use 1/3 of a can per fill up. For cars, it's safe to dump a whole can at a time. Sea Foam is also very useful if you store your motorcycle for the winter season.

Why is foam wash better? ›

With a dedicated Foam Cannon soap your car wash process is both quicker and more effective. The specially designed cleaners work to loosen and remove contaminants before you wash, so there is both less time and effort needed to clean your vehicle than before.

How do you start a bike after water wash? ›

Once the washing is done, dry the bike, start the engine and let it run for few minutes. Before taking the bike for a ride, test the brake as you need to make sure that they are giving the normal feel as before the washing. After washing and drying, lubricate the chain immediately.

Can I use car degreaser on my bike? ›

1. Start by cleaning the dirtiest bits of your bike—that usually means your drivechain. While you can use automotive or bicycle specific degreaser, kerosene is a good low cost (but smelly) alternative. It is commonly available at supermarkets and hardware stores and does a great job of dissolving chain grime.

Is it OK to hose down a bicycle? ›

If you're using a hose, go gentle. Don't blast your bike with high-pressure water or you could jam grit deeper in or get water in your bearings (bad). Get sudsy: Top up your bucket with warm water. If you're using detergent, add a small amount to get bubbles going.

Should I let my bike cool down before I wash it? ›

Let the Motorcycle Cool Down

Never start washing the motorcycle when it's still hot. If you have just come in from a ride, let the bike cool down. You see, spraying water on a hot engine is dangerous because the sudden temperature change could crack the engine block.

Does a clean bike go faster? ›

It won't come as a surprise that a clean bike is faster than a dirty one. But you might be surprised to find out just how much the collected grit and grime is costing you in the shape of wasted watts. Studies have shown that a “dirty” chain can cost you 10-20w, which translates to 1-2kph at race speed.

How do I wash my bike like a pro? ›

Wash the bike frame: Use a bucket of warm soapy water and a brush to gently scrub off dirt and grime. Work from the top down, cleaning the handlebars, headset, top tube, seat post, seatstays, front fork and brakes. If you have disc brakes, try to keep soap away from the rotors and brake pads.

What happens if you don't clean your bike? ›

This sweat potentially finds it way into the nooks and crannies of your bike, building up on the steel bolts or aluminum components and slowly causing corrosion… unless it's washed away. And it's not just sweat; road grime is a culprit of wear and corrosion as well.

Which shampoo is best for bike wash? ›

1-48 of 263 results for "Bike Washing Shampoo"
  • Foxcare Wash & Gloss - Ultra Premium Auto wash Shampoo (500ml) ...
  • MEGUIAR'S Nxt Generation Car Wash pH Balanced Rich Lather Shampoo with Water softeners for spot Free Finish, 532 ml. ...
  • Turtle Wax Max-Power Car Wash Shampoo 250 ML.

Can I wash a bike in the shower? ›

Take both your wheels off then rest your bike on the chock/floor of the shower. Squirt some detergent onto your cloth and get scrubbing. My shower has a flexi shower head, which makes it easy to get water where I want it. If you have a regular showerhead, turn it on and jump out of the way!

Is car soap good for bikes? ›

Cheap car shampoo or washing-up liquid works fine. Some contain salt but it's a tiny amount when mixed with a couple of gallons of water. You won't turn your bike into rust. Using your big soft brush, wash anything that needs cleaning – frame, fork, shocks, controls, tyres, rims, brakes, etc – but NOT the drivetrain.

Is it good to wash bike with detergent? ›

Bike Washing Dos –

Always go for detergents those are not too acidic nor too basic. Start off by rinsing your bike with cool water to loosen the dirt. You can use a mug for this or you can go for a water pipe. Clean the sophisticated parts using a sponge dampened in a solution of detergent and water.

Should you wax a bicycle? ›

Here's Why. Hot wax isn't just for skis. Using it can result in a cleaner, longer-lasting drivetrain with less maintenance.

Can I use dish soap to wash my dirt bike? ›

While it can be tempting to fill a bucket with dish soap such as Dawn, research has shown that this can actually be harmful to your motorcycle over time. This is because it can strip the wax and protective coating from your fairings, leaving them exposed to the elements.

Can I clean a bike chain with soap and water? ›

Yes, and it can be done with the chain either on or off the bike. Simply fill a bucket with warm water, add a cleaning agent of choice (whether it be a liquid kitchen detergent, degreaser or another bike cleaner), and use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub the chain.

Can I use wet wipes to clean my bike? ›

Step 5: Make your bike shine

With them you wipe over the frame, handlebars, and seat. You can also clean the rims and spokes easily with a wet wipe. If you don't want to use disposable wipes, you can use a damp cotton cloth with rinse water or old terry cloth socks that you can put over your hand.


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