Tips for Cleaning Your ATV

Muddy teenager on a quad
David Aaron Troy/Getty Images

Most of us ATV owners know all about how to get our ATVs dirty. That's the fun part, right? But when it comes time to clean your quad and get it back to its former shiny self, that's where the fun usually stops and the work begins.

Having washed our share of quads a bazillion times over the years (even after the muddiest, dirtiest races), we have learned a few tricks that we would like to share with you that may help make this "quality time" with your ATV go a little easier.

Presoak

This is the first step to take if your quad is so covered in mud and dirt that you can't even tell what color it originally was. This is an important step to take if you can tap your mud-cement caked quad with a hammer, and large pieces of hardened mud and clay fly off. Presoaking is simply a matter of spraying your machine with a heavy, wide spray of water and letting that water soak and settle into all the deepest nooks and crannies. When it looks like it's thoroughly soaked, do it again - sometimes the really stubborn dried mud will take a few rounds of this before the water can soak all the way through.

Initial Blast

Once you have pre-soaked your ATV and have loosened up all of that caked on mud, it's time to forcefully blast the mud off. The easiest and most thorough way to do this is with a pressure washer. Gas-powered washers are the most powerful, but even electric pressure washers work better than a hose and a nozzle.

However, not all of us have pressure washers, so if you use a hose and nozzle, be sure to find the most forceful setting and your best water pressure.  

Give your machine one good go around with the hose and blast off as much mud and dirt as possible before you take a sponge or brush to it. The more mud and debris you can get off at this point, the easier the rest of the job will be.

Top Tip!

  • If you live in an urban or suburban environment and find that you have to wash your quad in your yard, be aware that if you wash your quad ON your lawn, you will introduce a wide variety of foreign grass seed and weeds into your front yard.  
  • If that only leaves your driveway to clean your machines, be kind to your neighbors and the street sweeper, and try to rinse the mud off of your driveway, off of the sidewalk, and down the gutters as much as possible when you are finished.  

Soap and Sponge

While many times a good pressure washer will allow you to skip this step entirely, it is still a good idea to take a sponge with some good automotive detergent and scrub all of the surfaces of your ATV.  Focus mostly on the plastics, the seat, the frame, the a-arms and the wheels/tires - as these are all of the parts that will show dirt residue the most if any remains. For any parts of your quad that are rough or hard to clean with a sponge, a good stiff brush will work wonders at getting embedded dirt and oil out. The detergent will help break up any oily residue, and this will aid in the cleaning process. On very tough, oily residue, such as chain lube flung onto the swing-arm, we have also used a degreaser with great success.

Just spray it on, leave it for a few minutes, and then go back to scrubbing, or washing it off.

Drying

This is the part where many people have their differences, and there are different techniques that can be used, depending on what is available to you at the time. The sun and a lint-free towel work very well if you get to it while it's still a little wet and water spots haven't set in. If you have an air compressor handy, blowing the water off of your quad with compressed air is a great way to not only dry your quad, but to get water out of even the tiniest recesses. This helps tremendously to avoid potential rusty areas that could occur in places that are otherwise impossible to reach with just a towel.

Shiny It Up

This is a step that many people skip entirely, but if you like your quad to look like new, or at least like to try to minimize scuffed up plastics and faded areas, then this is a step you may be familiar with.

 Once we have our quads dried and spot free, our last step is to spray it down with a plastic polish, such as Plexor or SC1. This is a spray that you can spray on and "polish" or wipe off, that is specifically designed to improve the look of any ATV plastic. Beware of spraying it on your seat, however, because it could potentially make your next ride a slippery one!

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Weller, Corry. "Tips for Cleaning Your ATV." ThoughtCo, Apr. 28, 2017, thoughtco.com/tips-for-cleaning-your-atv-4659. Weller, Corry. (2017, April 28). Tips for Cleaning Your ATV. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/tips-for-cleaning-your-atv-4659 Weller, Corry. "Tips for Cleaning Your ATV." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/tips-for-cleaning-your-atv-4659 (accessed November 20, 2017).