Got a dirty bike and a limited budget? Here's a selection of common household cleaners you can use to spruce up your ride.
There are many cleaners in your home that say multi-purpose, multi-surface, and other marketing jargon. How many of them really can tackle those "extra" duties and also clean your motorcycle? Here are a few that we swear by.
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Pledge is probably the most versatile paint cleaner, polisher, chrome cleaner, dusting agent known to mankind. It may smell like lemons, but it comes packed with a corrosion inhibitor and a protective dust film that helps prevent dust from accumulating.
My own experience with Pledge involved black paint that constantly had a hazy look after using other products. I switched to Pledge and not only did the bike smell good, the shine stayed with no haze! One word of warning - when using Pledge outside you may become well acquainted with bees. It seems the lemon scent is a homing beacon to them.
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Simple Green's cleaner and degreaser is another do-all product. It's safe for painted surfaces, unfinished surfaces, plastics, glass, you name it. Non-toxic, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly, there aren't many cleaners that cut through road grime, chain grease, and bug guts as well as "Simply". Strong enough to remove dried bugs, dirt and grime that have been heat treated to engine cases, yet safe enough for your wind screen, Simple Green simply performs. Before you wash your bike, spray the cleaner over all of the metal and plastic surfaces. Let it sit on the dirt for awhile to break it down and then wash your bike until all soapy residue is gone. We would avoid using this and any cleaner on your seat. Use an appropriate leather or vinyl cleaner instead.
Rebuilding a motor, trying to clean carbon build up off of parts? Soak them in Pine-Sol. Yep: the stuff that removes residue, grease, and wax build up from floors works equally well on engine parts. What is really nice is it works equally well on aluminum and steel.
We once used this to degunk a 1995 DR125SE single-barrel carburetor that had been sitting unused since 1996. It runs like a champ now and every once in a while you get that "Pine Fresh Scent" from the exhaust!
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Ever get your boot polish on an exhaust pipe? How about accidentally melt a micro fiber cloth on a header pipe? (This writer did!) Easy-Off oven cleaner on that same exhaust works wonders. Designed to clean messes out of the hottest place in your house, the foaming cleaner easily removes polish, grease, and that same microfiber cloth residue.
The key with using Easy-Off is patience. Spray this on the offending location and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Use a soft cloth to wipe it off and repeat as necessary. Some people have reported having additional success by applying this when the exhaust is warm to the touch.
Invented in 1905 in Britain by Reckitt and Sons, Brasso is a liquid metal polish and cleaner. Use it to clean and polish exhaust, chrome, aluminum, and your silverware in the house. The last one will keep the missus happy and will keep you from getting you into too much trouble regarding the bike parts you just ordered that she doesn't know about yet.
Another amazing product with practically unlimited uses, pre-moistened paper towels can wipe off and clean almost anything. Use them to moisten stubborn bugs on your fairings, wipe road tar from the forks, bird deposits from the seat, and clean your greasy palms after working on the bike.
We use these on just about everything, from cleaning your kids snotty nose, to wiping chain grease from your boots of the entry way carpet before the wife sees it. These little miracles of cleaning are also one of the cheapest items on this list.
How many of these have you used? What ones did we miss? Let us know in the comments!