Can you use car wash soap on a motorcycle?

How important is keeping your motorcycle clean to prevent corrosion and damage in the long run? But is it safe to use car wash soap instead? 

It is not a problem for you to use car wash soap on your motorcycle. Car wash soap is pH-neutral and safe to use on motorcycles. Car wash soap labelled mild and gentle is perfectly safe to use daily.

pH neutrals should be considered when choosing commercial cleaning products to avoid damaging surfaces. 

Can you clean a motorcycle in a car wash?

Washing your motorcycle is the most common activity you do throughout the year as it becomes a regular activity as you get into the riding season. There are certain car wash soap products in the market nowadays that are gentler and applicable to both cars and motorcycles. 

Biodegradable products are also safe to use in keeping motorcycle maintenance safe and long-lasting, like motorcycle-specific cleaners, which are more reasonable. The trick is to get a bucket of water, add a shot of car wash soap, get a sponge or chamois, use a brush with soft bristles and voilà. Your motorcycle is as good as new. 

Normally in cleaning your motorcycle, you are faced with several challenges. Motorcycles per se are equipped with varied little nooks and crannies of different surface types, and each integral part entails proper cleaning and washing because it is detrimental if they are not. Preferably busy modern riders nowadays opt for jet washer machines for a quick and easy wash. 

So the question is: is it safe to clean a motorcycle in a car wash? The answer is yes and no. A self-serve car wash is not typically the greatest idea. 

However, if you wish to clean your motorcycle in a car wash where it’s fast and easy after a muddy ride, make sure that the water pressure is low and sprays at a reasonable distance. High-pressure settings quickly force water into areas where they are not supposed to be that could potentially damage your motorcycle. 

Cleaning your motorcycle in a car wash is not the best alternative to taking the utmost care of your motorcycle. Intense water pressure is the biggest threat in washing your motorbike in a car wash because it can greatly damage its internal and external parts. 

Water tends to slowly ooze into small openings that will lead to corrosion and significant impairment of its value, usefulness, and normal function if left moist and damp. 

Moreover, high-pressure wands used on automatic car washes can be problematic when it comes to grease and bearings as water can penetrate easily on fork seals, hubs, wheel bearings, to name a few, allowing grease to escape leading to rusting.

Motorcycles are also built to withstand rain to a certain degree, yet too much water can ruin electrical connections like switches, plug wires or the starter.

Essentially, drying your motorcycle after each wash reduces the risk of rusting and corrosion and electrical malfunctions. Using an air blower is the easiest and quickest way to achieve optimum dryness, especially in areas where it’s hard to wipe dry. 

Cleaning motorcycles in automatic car wash versus traditional handwashing not only saves you a ton of money but guarantees that the life of your motorcycle will last longer. 

Can I use Dawn to wash my motorcycle? 

Some said that Dawn is a non-abrasive chemical cleaner and, if appropriately used, will work well to bust off oil and grease of metal parts like pots and pans. Reportedly, every dish soap has abrasives, and no matter how gentle and safe it says it is, over time, it will still etch the paint in your motorcycle and ruin its clear coat. It is worth noting, though, that dirt accelerates wear. 

Most dish soap like Dawn, for instance, is safe to use in washing your motorcycle. But if you can afford to buy the best kind of soap for motorcycles, then go for it; otherwise, using regular dish soap and water will still do a better job.

Don’t be negligent to re-wax or re-seal your motorcycle after each wash regardless of the soap that you use for this will protect your motorcycle from the sun and normal wear and tear in the long run. 

Contrary to the common belief that dish soap contains salt that aggravates corrosion, researchers found that salt in dish soap is not the corrosive type like table salt, aka sodium chloride. Salts found in Dawn are salt whose active ingredients are responsible for degreasing metals by dissolving in water and grease or oil. 

Dawn seems to be an obvious solution to wash dust, soil, grease, tar-based dirt or if your motorcycle has fallen into something stickier like insects or tar splatters because it is usually readily available in most households. 

Dawn is not harmful unless the paint on your motorcycle is left unprotected. For instance, no fresh coat of wax or synthetic sealant after washing, thus leaving the paint exposed. Therefore, due to weather inclement, the paint on your motorcycle will then oxidize. 

Bear in mind that oxidation is not directly caused by washing your motorcycle with Dawn. It is merely caused by bare paint being exposed to elements over time. 

Dawn cuts grease right off, and if you plan to strip off the old stuff, this one’s for you. On the other hand, it is entirely safe to wash your motorcycle with dish soap like Dawn as long as you rinse it off thoroughly with clean water afterwards. You may also need to re-wax to prevent the paintwork in your motorcycle from a not too lovely finish. 

Depending on how you take it, each motorcycle requires various care and caution. To avoid automatic car wash, use natural car wash soap and stick with products intended for your beloved scrambler.