How to pressure wash a motorbike

Time to wash your motorbike or scooter? Then it’s also time to get your pressure washer out, for sparkling results in no time.

 A man using a STIHL RE 130 Plus high-pressure cleaner to wash a white motorcycle on a home driveway.

Can I use a pressure washer to clean my motorcycle or scooter?

A long motorcycle ride is sure to lift your spirits – but likely to leave your two-wheeled friend covered in dirt and dead insects. A powerful pressure washer seems like the perfect way to get your pride and joy gleaming again, and it is – though some care is needed. If you keep a few points in mind, you can make sure it gets a thorough clean without causing any damage.

  1. Keep your distance: the closer you stand as you wash your motorbike, the stronger the water pressure it is subjected to, so you should always observe the minimum distance recommended in the operating instructions – generally 30 cm. In fact, at the start of the wash process we recommend you stand even further away and then move closer if necessary. Also, to protect the paintwork, always make sure the water jet is pointed at a shallow angle.
  2. Hand wash any delicate parts: do not aim the pressure washer water jet directly at the delicate hubs, lever joints, oil and water coolers, swing arm, steering bearings or O-ring chains. The force could damage these components and cause water to get into fine crevices and bearings. Wipe these parts with a sponge or a soft brush after using a cleaning agent.
  3. Avoid the electrics and engine block: make sure that as little water as possible gets onto the electrical components and the engine.
  4. Be careful with the tyres: for your own safety, you should make sure you keep the hose at a sufficient distance and use a low pressure setting when you wash the motorcycle tyres. Do not aim the jet at one place for too long; otherwise, the tyres may suffer invisible damage which could cause them to burst at high speeds or on long journeys.

How to wash a motorbike with a pressure washer: step-by-step instructions

A motorcycle on a driveway in front of a white house, being cleaned with a STIHL RE 130 plus pressure washer

Step 1: Rinse off coarse dirt

If your motorbike or scooter is very dirty, use the high-pressure cleaner and plain water to wash off any coarse dirt. Do not aim the jet directly at delicate parts such as bearings, hubs or coolers.

A man using the STIHL RE 130 plus pressure washer to spray vehicle shampoo onto a motorcycle

Step 2: Apply cleaning agent

We have a range of cleaning agents that can be used with our pressure washers to really get your motorbike sparkling again. Pour some vehicle shampoo into the spray set as directed in the instructions for use, and secure it to the pressure washer. Then spray the cleaning agent onto the motorcycle to soften dirt such as oil residue and insect matter.

Step 3: Wipe off dirt

The next step is to manually wash the motorcycle down. You can do this by using a sponge to remove the dirt which has been loosened by the vehicle shampoo. You should also use a sponge or soft brush to clean delicate parts such as the water and oil coolers, the lever joints, steering bearings and O-ring chains. The best way to clean wheel rims is with a wash brush attachment on your pressure washer.

Close-up of a water jet and pressure washer hose cleaning the back wheel of a motorcycle

Step 4: Rinse

Use the pressure washer to spray clean water and rinse away the cleaning agent and dirt. Once again, be sure to avoid aiming the jet directly at delicate components and seals.

A man drying a motorcycle with a chamois cloth, with a STIHL RE 130 Plus pressure washer beside him

Step 5: Dry

Don’t forget to thoroughly dry your motorcycle, as this is important to prevent rust. Use a chamois or a soft microfibre cloth to remove moisture – the latter means there is less risk of damaging the paintwork. If you have one, an air jet from a compressor helps remove water from any areas that are difficult to access.

Close-up of wax being applied with a soft cloth to a painted area of a motorcycle

Step 6: Finish and treat

Finish with some important maintenance steps to keep your bike in great condition. Use spray oil on dry metal components. Chrome and aluminium areas can be polished, while protective hard wax should be applied to seal the surface of paintwork; use a soft cloth or polishing cloth. Unpainted motorcycle parts and sections made from plastic are best treated with specialist polishes.

Your motorbike has now been thoroughly cleaned, taken care of, and is ready for its next outing. Happy riding!

Summary: how to Pressure wash a motorbike

  • Keep your pressure washer hose at the recommended minimum distance from your motorcycle so that you do not damage it (please check the operating instructions of your pressure washer; the minimum distance is usually 30 cm).
  • Don't apply the pressure washer jet directly onto sensitive bearings or seals. You should also make sure that as little water as possible gets onto the engine block and electrical components.
  • Always wear personal protective equipment while you work, as directed in your operating instructions.
  • First rinse off coarse dirt with plain water. Then use the pressure washer to apply a cleaning agent which will work on grime and oily residues.
  • Wash delicate components with a soft brush or sponge, then rinse off the cleaning agent with plain water from the pressure washer.
  • Wipe down your motorcycle or scooter thoroughly and use oil to conserve metal components. Use the appropriate care products to maintain aluminium parts, paintwork and other surfaces.