This quick guide explains how to wash a motorcycle without a hose and water. Perhaps, your bike is filthy or lightly dirty and you live in an apartment complex where there are no hoses available.
Just a quick joke: ride in the rain and problem solved. Well, not really a joke as it somehow works anyway.
That aside, you don’t need water to wash your motorcycle except if it is really dirty. Usually, a bucket does the wash, and it’s more direct if you need friction to loosen the dirt around your wheels, fender, and others. However, those areas that are already clean need a quick detailing job, so you don’t really need an external water source.
Besides, even the smallest drip of water can waste 50 gallons or more per day—following research published on the Indiana state website. The only way you’d save water is to outfit the water hose with an adjustable spray nozzle.
How to wash a motorcycle without a hose
To wash and clean your motorcycle without a hose, including the motorcycle chain, do the following:
use microfiber towels and a detailer
Honestly, I barely wash my bike with water. Just hand me microfiber towels and Meguiar’s Instant Detailer to clean your motorcycle to a factory look. I clean my bike about once a week and will apply CAR GUYS Plastic Restorer on the black plastic parts to keep them fresh and supple.
You don’t really need to use a hose or bucket of water. If you have a heavily dirty bike coated with dirt/pollen, use compressed air to blow it off, or rinse with a spray bottle first to avoid fine scratches when cleaning your bike with a towel. If your motorcycle gets some fine scratches/spiderwebbing from rubbing off the dust, you can fix it using polish and a microfiber pad.
degrease and dry with a microfiber clothe
To clean a dirty motorcycle with no hose, try going to a car wash and using the low-pressure setting on your bike. If this is not possible, and you have a hosepipe ban in your apartment, you need a degreaser like Muc-Off’s Motorcycle Degreaser on the grimy areas. However, for a more effective and general solution, I recommend S100 Total Gel Cleaner but it’s quite pricey.
To rinse off, get a pressurized sprayer. You’d also need a long-reach brush to easily agitate and get rid of the dirt. If your motorcycle is driven by chain, get a specialized chain cleaning spray or paraffin. Make sure it’s dry and then use a reliable chain lube and a brush to clean the chain.
To clean the bodywork and frames, try rinsing any loose dirt and dust off using a pressurized sprayer, then apply the “two bucket wash” method which involves using one bucket with your wash solution and another bucket with plain water for rinsing your wash microfiber mitt. This method prevents scratches on your bike.
You just have to soak the clean mitt in your bucket with shampoo, then gently wipe it over the bike. The mitt will remove grime from the paintwork. Don’t use a sponge—it will drag the dirt across your motorcycle paint. Try not to miss a spot and make sure you clean a small patch before you rinse the mitt in a bucket of plain water and then in the shampoo bucket before cleaning another area.
After working the various areas of the motorcycle, dry it off using a microfibre drying towel. You can apply some Speed Wipe as you work the bike to prevent water marks. You can try using a dryer to prevent corrosion as well as get rid of moisture from the switchgear.
After cleaning the bodywork, apply wax to the paintwork. I recommend this Collinite wax and a soft brush to remove any residue you find in between the panel gaps. To clean any black plastic on your bike, use the S100’s color refresher.
Finally, use a rust preventer on the engine and suspension. Do not spray apply that rust preventer on the tires or brakes. I use
Sponge, a bucket of water, and sprayer
Get a bucket of plain water, a bucket of soapy water, and a sponge for each bucket. If you must use spray water, you need a super soaker. However, your contract should not include a clause that prohibits you from washing your vehicle, else, the management can raise your rates or even terminate your contract.
I advise you to buy a small squeeze bottle. You can get one from the Target store. You just need it to use for squeezing soap in the bucket to prevent you from bringing a big bottle of car washing soap with you.
Use a soft towel to drape it over your motorcycle. Ready your bucket first by squeezing soap into it, then dip your wash mitt in it. Use the bucket of plain water to rinse off the bike. Note that the sprayer can spray hard, pushing the bucket around, so place it against the wall and hold it with your foot. Point the sprayer on the side of the bucket and not your wash mitt to avoid putting a hole in it.
Go ahead and wash your motorcycle beginning from the top first (all plastic body panels) and lastly the engine front and wheels to keep the water bucket clean. Pop in quarters and rinse the bike, bucket, and mitt.
Finally, dry your motorcycle and ride home. Don’t forget to lube the chain and go over the bike with a dry cloth and a detailer spray.
Is it OK to wash your motorcycle with water?
It is OK to wash your motorcycle with water. Bikes are completely sealed—you just need to cover the exhaust and avoid shooting water into the intake.
Most of the time, I wash my motorcycle with Chemical Guys Foam Blaster. Just cover the bike in suds and use your microfiber sponge to scrub. Apply a matte finish formula (I recommend Chemical Guys 636 for a matte finish). Now, rinse with shower mode or flat mode which are usually gentle.
For your bike wheels, use LA’s Totally Awesome All Purpose Cleaner to give the wheels a factory look with no spots or streaks. Now, use the leaf blower and blow dry the bike’s hard-to-reach areas. Get a microfiber towel for your finish drying.
When the motorcycle is dry, use the spray cleaners to do a full clean/detail. If your chain is not filthy dirty, lube it after cleaning the bike. Otherwise, clean the chain first if it’s too dirty before cleaning the bike. You can use Motul Chain Clean for your motorcycle chain to easily melt and remove grime and dirt. For lubing, I usually use the PJ1 Blue Label after cleaning the bike as the water hits the chain.