After trying out all types of adrenaline-pumping sports, riding a dirt bike has remained one of my first loves that I will never get tired of. You would think that with so much use and tear over the years, my dirt bike would look all busted. But that is not the case, my friend. My bike is as shiny as ever because I have mastered the technique on how to clean a dirt bike without a pressure washer. And I can teach you all of my hidden secrets so that you can make your bike look brand new every time you give it a clean.
You can clean your dirt bike without a pressure washer by using a garden hose and other helpful materials such as a rubber mallet, mild soap, soft bristle brush, microfiber towel, and spray polish. You start off by scraping off excess mud with a rubber mallet and removing sensitive parts that can get damaged by the water. Afterward, you can use any low-pressure hose to rinse the bike, making sure to aim the mud away from the bike. This ensures the dirt will not seep into hard-to-reach places.
After the initial rinse, you need to start scrubbing the leftover dirt with a soft bike brush. A second hosing down of the bike after the thorough scrub will get rid of all the grime. Regardless of how you choose to clean your bike, you need to pay close attention to cleaning and lubricating the chain afterward. I like to dry my dirt bike with a microfiber towel, and then I finish it all off with a spray polish for a shiny finish. Do not forget to put back the seat, air filter, and other removed parts before going off-road again!
As you can see, the steps to cleaning off your dirt bike with a hose are quite straightforward. However, with experience, I have developed a very specific way of doing things for each step. If you want to preserve your dirt bike and clean it in the safest way possible, keep on reading to learn all the expert tips I have picked up along the way.
How to Clean a Dirt Bike Without a Pressure Washer
When I got my first dirt bike, I was absolutely thrilled to use a pressure washer and see all the mud rinse out. And to this day, I have to admit that watching a professional pressure wash a bike is quite a fascinating view. But after doing more research on the subject, I learned that for regular folks like you and me, using a hose is the better option. Therefore, if you were ready to buy a pressure washer online just to feel like a real dirt bike owner, you can stop right there! I’m here to tell you why you’re better off using the garden hose and a selection of good cleaning products.
First of all, a pressure washer can be very difficult to use, especially for a beginner. Even though it’s fun to just point it at your bike and see the mud fly in all directions, there is a proper way of cleaning that doesn’t come easy to new dirt bike owners. If you do a poor job using the pressure washer, your bike will suffer greatly and could even get irreparable engine damage. So it’s best to keep with the 6 easy steps I’m sharing in this post to make sure your dirt bike lives a long and healthy life. And you get to ride off on a gorgeous bike for many years to come!
In case you just used your dirt bike and you’re thinking about cleaning it, the first thing you need to do is let the machine cool off. If you use cold water to rinse the hot metal on your bike, the sudden temperature change can be very damaging. After an hour or so, you can start with the first step which is…
1. Take off the bike seat, air filter, and cover the muffler
In order to keep your dirt bike in peak condition, you need to take good care of its parts. This includes regular mechanical checkups but also protecting sensitive parts when deep cleaning. For instance, most bike owners will remove the seat in order to avoid contact with water. If you leave it on, the seat foam will absorb the water, which in time damages its elasticity and cushion effect.
Rather than pay extra attention when hosing down the dirt bike, you can go ahead and remove the seat as a true professional mechanic. Reinstall the seat bolts afterward, and leave the seat to the side for separate cleaning. You can brush it off with a bike brush, but more on that in step 4.
Another important part that you have to remove is the air filter, which can be completely destroyed if it comes into contact with water. Before you start cleaning, cover the airbox with a designated airbox cover. If you don’t have one yet, putting duct tape over the openings will do just fine.
Since you have duct tape on hand, go ahead and cover up the muffler as well to not damage your engine. For the more prepared bikers that have all the necessary accessories on hand, here is where you use the muffler plug. When you have all sensitive parts covered up, you can move on to the next step.
2. Take off excess mud with a rubber mallet
Whenever I take my dirt bike off-road, especially after a particularly rainy night, I come home covered in mud. And you can imagine the condition of my bike as well.
Therefore, when my dirt bike is covered in mud, I like to take the time to scrape off the excess dirt with a rubber mallet. This will help you further down the road, making the hosing down much easier.
3. Rinse the dirt bike with a garden hose
I like attaching a regular spray nozzle on my hose to get a thorough cleaning. Use low pressure to slowly rinse off the mud, while aiming to spray the dirt away from the bike. This way, you avoid grime getting into the crevices and causing problems further down the road.
Apart from that, I would suggest you avoid hitting the airbox, muffler, and carburetor directly with water. If you are using duct tape or another improvised cover, you risk the water pressure breaking down your “shield.”
4. Scrub the dirt bike with a soft brush
Mix a mild soap with water in a bucket and prepare to scrub for a while. I like to put on a playlist and jam out while doing this because scrubbing your bike properly can be quite time-consuming. Avoid astringent and harsh soaps, as these can cause long-term damage to the finish.
The Dawn and Honest dish soaps are my go-to, but you can use whatever brand you have on hand. As for the brush, I recommend looking for a soft bristle brush at your local bike shop or on Amazon.
Your dirt bike should always be treated with a little TLC, so don’t go scrubbing too hard when the grime is stubborn. The keywords here are patience and repetition, so just zone out and keep on scrubbing until your bike is spotless.
Do not forget to check for hidden spots where dirt can build up. This includes the engine, the back of your tires, and beneath your fenders. When you feel confident you scrubbed enough, give your dirt bike another rinse with the hose.
5. Clean and lubricate your chain
Not cleaning your chain often can lead to a literal catastrophe. So take your time here to clean your chain with the same mild soap you used before, and a special chain cleaning brush. Oil the chain up with a lubricant that was made specifically for this purpose. You can find a number of lubricant varieties, such as dry lube, wet lube, ceramic lube, and wax lube.
There is a case to make for each type, so it’s best to do your research or ask your local bike shop clerk for their recommendation. Trust me, this is one of the most essential steps in making sure your dirt bike will always perform as brand new. So it’s worth it to put in a little more effort to get the best lubricant for your dirt bike.
Note: And while you’re at it, take a few seconds to inspect the air filter as well. If you don’t live in a very dusty area, chances are your air filter doesn’t get too clogged up and you can skip this step once in a while. However, a dirty air filter will make your next dirt biking experience a little troublesome, since it has a direct effect on your engine performance. Better safe than sorry, it’s what I always like to say!
6. Dry off your dirt bike
Hey, you’re almost done! All that is left to do is dry off your dirt bike and bask in its beauty before you get it dirty again. People use all kinds of towels for this step, from cotton to terry cloths. My personal favorite is microfiber since it doesn’t leave any lint behind and leaves my bike always looking spotless. However, feel free to experiment here and choose what suits your preferences best. The goal is just to dry it off after all. After going through all of these 6 steps, your dirt bike will be clean and ready for your next adventure.
You might have noticed that in the introduction of this article, I mentioned an additional seventh step to my cleaning process. Do not worry, I haven’t forgotten what I said. After all, I do it almost every month. I just felt that I needed to separate it into a different section for the readers that have asked me…
How to Make Your Dirt Bike Shine?
Even after you put in all this work to carefully wash all the mud, dirt, and grime off your bike… It can feel like something is missing. Yes, that’s right! That brand new shiny finish that your dirt bike had when you first purchased it. Well, I can tell you that after years and years, my bike still has the same beautiful shine it had on the first day. And this is because I make sure to use spray polish!
If you have a dirt bike, I’m assuming you like to venture off into the wild and you come home with a few scratches on the plastic. That’s alright. After all, the purpose is to have fun. But if you want to make the surface smooth and shiny, you can use a polish to get rid of surface scratches and weird marks. I have to say that ever since I tried the Pledge Aerosol Furniture Polish that hundreds of adventurers swear by, I haven’t looked back. However, there are other options like Motomax Shiner, Sheeba SCAI007, and Waxpol Silky Touch that have excellent reviews online.
For extra protection, I recommend using car wax as well. Not only can it prevent scratches on your dirt bike, but it can make the cleaning process much easier. Mud will slide right off the waxed plastic, making cleaning with a hose a breeze.
Nevertheless, dirt bikes were made to be roughed up a bit and many owners choose not to wax it for an “authentic” experience. Personally, I like to wax my bike once a year and keep the shiny finish for as long as I can. But you can choose what feels best for you! You can at least give it a try once and decide if it’s worth it.
Now that you know all the steps to clean your dirt bike with a garden hose, will you ever go back to the pressure washer? Even though using a pressure washer can seem more effective, in my opinion having patience with the hose technique can lead to better results. If you follow these steps to give your dirt bike a well-deserved deep cleaning, you are sure to make your dirt bike look brand new!