These days more than ever, we know how important it is to keep our homes and vehicles free of germs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), evidence suggests that the novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours or even days on certain surfaces, so routine disinfecting is of utmost importance.
Sanitizing your motorcycle and favorite riding gear can help you do your part to protect yourself and others against the spread of COVID-19. But how do you sanitize one of your most precious possessions without damaging or scratching the finish? We can help. The process is simpler than you might think.
Products You’ll Need
You want to pay special attention to the cleaning and disinfecting products you use on your motorcycle’s surfaces, as anything too harsh or abrasive could damage the paint or scratch the frame. At the same time, cleaners that are too mild or gentle may not kill those pesky germs, so you need to find a good solution somewhere in between. Remember that the physical act of scrubbing can remove germs and particles, so wiping down more delicate surfaces with simple soap and water can help get rid of germs.
Here are some items you need to get started.
- Disposable gloves. Disposable cleaning gloves are crucial for two reasons: They help keep your hands safe from viruses that could spread germs and they keep your mitts protected from potentially harmful cleaning agents. Don’t skip the gloves!
- Disinfectant, specifically an EPA-registered disinfectant recommended for use against COVID-19 that won’t damage any surfaces. Be sure to pay close attention to ingredients and never use any abrasive cleaners that contain bleach, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide or benzene, as these could remove paint or abrade surfaces. Use car interior-friendly disinfectants — mainly bleach-free products by Clorox or Lysol — to clean the seat and handlebars. In general, choose cleaners based on the materials of your motorcycle. Many cleaners are not recommended for use on exterior paint or leather.
- Dish soap. When cleaning “interior” components of your motorcycle, such as your seat and handlebars, it’s generally OK to use a mild dish soap and warm water. Bleach-free cleaning wipes or sprays are usually OK, too. Just be sure to thoroughly read the label and, if you’re not sure, test in an inconspicuous area.
- Microfiber cloths. Only clean the surfaces of your bike using a pre-moistened cleaning wipe or a soft microfiber cloth. Anything more abrasive could scratch or damage the surface of the bike. Be sure to spray or apply cleaners to the cloth rather than directly to the vehicle to avoid any unnecessary saturation.
Sanitizing Your Motorcycle and Gear
Now that you’ve gathered your accoutrements, it’s time to get started on the sanitizing process. We recommend keeping your sanitation strategy as simple as possible so that you’re more likely to follow it every day as part of your regular motorcycle maintenance routine. Be sure to sanitize after every ride — especially if you’ve stopped at the gas station, a restaurant or bar — and after trips to the mechanic.
- Wash Your Gear — Always reference the manufacturer’s care instructions on riding gear to ensure that you don’t shrink it or damage it during cleaning. For padded apparel, always be sure to remove the padding before washing it in the machine or by hand. Since riding gear is often made of heavy-duty materials, you may have to wash it by hand, spot clean only or soak it in soapy water.
- Rinse First — Before wiping down any surfaces on your motorcycle, give it a good rinse down and wait for it to thoroughly dry. When disinfecting or cleaning a dirty surface with a cloth or brush, you risk rubbing in the debris and scratching the surface.
- Thoroughly Wipe Down Your Helmet — Using a disinfectant wipe, be sure to clear away any germs, dirt or debris that could have accumulated on your helmet. Never use any petroleum-based cleaners on your helmet, as it could damage the foam inside. If you have any special motorcycle communication systems within your helmet — such as a headset with a built-in mic — be sure to wipe them down periodically. If your helmet has a removable liner, be sure to remove it and wash it after each wear.
- Wipe Down Frequently Touched Surfaces — Pay special attention to the most frequently touched surfaces on your bike, including the handlebars, shift lever, buttons, handles, vents, keys and remote fob. Don’t forget to pay attention to touch screens and electronics, such as your Bluetooth motorcycle speakers.
- Wipe Down the Seat with the Appropriate Cleaner — Make sure to routinely wipe down the seat, especially if you tend to ride with a passenger. Some vehicle interiors can be safely cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, but you need to take special precautions if your seat is made of leather. Stick to a mild soap and water when cleaning leather.
- Frequently Wash Hands Before, After and During Rides — Get into the habit of washing your hands before and after you go for a ride. It’s also a good idea to wash or sanitize before, during and after stops at the gas station, restaurants, etc. Not only will this help prevent your bike from becoming contaminated, but it will also decrease the likelihood of it getting dirty and grimy from your hands.
- Dispose of All Materials After Cleaning — Make sure the gloves, wipes and used paper towels you used to squash viruses go straight from the vehicle to the trash. If anything you cleaned did contain disease-causing germs, they could still be lingering on your cleaning supplies. Be sure to immediately put any microfiber cloths or reusable rags into the laundry as well.
For avid riders, the motorcycle is one of the most important yet often overlooked places to disinfect. Luckily, with the right supplies and strategy, it’s relatively simple to keep your bike sanitary so you can enjoy the ride every step of the way.