Cleaning your bike doesn’t have to be difficult; with the right brushes, you can have caked on grease, dirt or suicidal bugs removed in no time.
So, what are the best brushes for cleaning motorcycles? You want something that isn’t too abrasive so it doesn’t damage your bodywork or chrome detailing and the handle and head to be covered in rubber or plastic to stop any damage from your scrubbing.
Look out for brushes that don’t have any protruding metal parts. The last thing you want is to add a cosmetic repair bill to your budget! Here are some of our suggestions for the best motorcycle brushes to get you going.
Brushes for every nook and crannie
For under £15, you can buy this 4-piece set from Oxford with ergonomically designed handles to prevent slipping in your hand and for a comfortable hold. Each brush head is different in length and design, making them very versatile. Great for getting between your spokes to remove all that dirt and grime.
Versatile kit, rubber-edged to prevent damage
Muc-Off are a well known brand and this set of 5 really does the job. For £16.99, you may as well splash out that little bit extra for this set. Tried and tested by the Biker Rated team, we love how the brushes have rubber around the edge to prevent any impact damage if you get a bit carried away with scrubbing. Including a soft washing brush, detailing brush, claw brush, wheel and component brush and two-prong brush, you won’t be stuck for choice.
Perfect for those who like to cosset their bike
For £79.99, these brushes come in a set of 3 and have multi-edge bristles to get into the hard to reach areas with less scrubbing on your part. The tough synthetic bristles are chemical resistant so they can be used with a wheel cleaner without being damaged. Designed with motorcycles in mind, the soft bristles won’t scratch any surface including polished or plated.
Avoid jet-washers. Yes, I know our guide already told you this, but they aren’t necessary. You end up causing more work for yourself by having to protect the delicate areas and damage anything if you don’t. Stick to cloths and brush sets!
Although it’s tempting to top up on a tan and enjoy the summer rays, try to avoid direct sunlight and midday when the sun is at its hottest. The heat will only dry out areas prematurely causing streaks and a mediocre result. Shaded areas or the start and end of the day are best.
It's a common rumour that washing up liquid contains salt which corrodes the bike, that isn't true. The simple fact is, washing up liquid will clean a bike but not as well as an automotive cleaner as it will strip all the wax from your paintwork leaving you with a dull finish. If you never re-waxed the bike, then it would start to corrode faster than if you were using a less harsh cleaner.
A refreshingly eco-friendly bike cleaner
At under £2.50 a litre, it’s worth paying that little bit extra and buying in bulk. I use this cleaner during my cleaning process and can say it works on all types of dirt and muck. The Bio Bike Cleaner contains microbes and enzymes which help get a deep clean. The cleaner contains no chemicals and is biodegradable, so it’s safe for you, your bike and the environment.
Motorcycle Cleaning FAQ
Are hand car washes safe for motorcycles?
There’s not a lot wrong with going to the local Eastern European car wash and getting your bike cleaned by 17 Bulgarians armed with cleaning cloths. They tend to do quite a good job but just keep an eye on where they aim their pressure washers. Some outfits are good and know a bike needs a bit more care and attention compared to the average car.
It’s common for them to use a diluted patio cleaner as their wheel cleaner, as it cuts through the crud on wheels which is fine for a BMW 3-series but for bikes with sticker kits and more plastic, you just have to watch where they aim it.
Sometimes they do silly things like apply tyre dressing (which is bloody slippery), so check they’re not doing that. Also they clean 10s of cars a day and you could argue that their cleaning mitts aren’t as grit-free as your one at home.
So keep a close eye out on your first time and if they do a good job, you’re sorted.
Is it ok to use washing up liquid to clean my bike?
Yes, it is. The urban myth is that dishwashing liquid like Fairy contains a salt which corrodes the bike or the paintwork. While it does contain a salt, it’s a not a chloride, which when left will become acid, which is what would corrode parts. The issue with washing up liquid is that it’ll strip off any paint protection on the bodywork, i.e. wax, leaving you with a dull finish and bodywork that’s not protected against the elements. If you use Fairy liquid, you will need to re-wax your bodywork.