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ATV Cleaning Tips

ATV Cleaning Tips

Written By: John Linden

It’s an undisputed fact that if you own an ATV, it’s going to get dirty. The moment you get that bad boy home you’ll be ripping and roaring through all types of muddy fields, forest trails, and desert sand dunes. If your ATV is still clean after a long day of hard riding, you’re not using it right. As we all know, getting your ATV dirty is the easy part. Keeping it clean, however, is where the work really begins. Worry not! We’ve assembled a list of the best tips on how to clean off all of the muck and grime from your ATV after a hard day of riding. Let’s begin.


If you’re wondering why your forest green ATV is now a lovely shade of mud brown, a good presoaking is definitely your first order of business. Simply grab your hose and douse your ATV with a wide spray of water so that all of the filth that you accumulated during your ride is either loosened up or washed off. After you’ve thoroughly soaked your ATV, hit it with a second wave of water. You'll want to make sure that even the most stubborn dirt patches know whose boss.

Pressure Washing

The presoaking method is great for loosening up all of the extra mud on your ATV, but you’ll now want to take things to the next level to truly give your ATV the bath that it so desperately needs. The next order of business is to use a pressure washer to blast off all of the mud that you couldn't remove during the presoaking stage. Pressure washers are both gas and electric powered (gas being more powerful). Both will get the job done.  If you happen to be short of a pressure washer and you can’t borrow one from the neighbors, you’ll have to make the best use out of your hose and nozzle. Focus on finding the most powerful setting on your nozzle and spray your ATV down. The point of this process is to get as much of the muck and debris off of your ATV as possible. The cleaner you make your ATV at this stage the easier your job will be later on.

Tips if you live in an urban setting

  • If you happen to live in a suburban or urban neighborhood, be wary of washing your ATV on your lawn. You might introduce foreign plant life to your yard. Before you know it, you might find an army of weeds strangling your lawn to death. It would be best to wash your ATV elsewhere.
  • If you clean your ATV on your driveway try to be mindful of the people who live around you. You’re going to make a mess as you wash all of the muck and grime off of your ATV, so rinse all debris down your driveway and into the gutter. No one wants to step into a pile of mud while casually strolling past your house.

Soap and Sponge

If pressure washing doesn’t exactly get the job completely done, turning to the tried and tested method of sponging down your ATV with some good automotive detergent will definitely finish what you started. And even if pressure washing your ATV worked, you’ll likely want to give it a sponge bath anyways. Focus primarily on the frame, seat, plastic, wheels/tires and other parts of your ATV that display the most dirt residue. Some parts of your ATV may be a bit too rough to tackle with a sponge. A strong brush with good thick bristles ought to do the job. Thick bristles are great for cleaning oil and deeply embedded dirt. The purpose of the detergent, besides the obvious purpose of helping to clean your ATV, is to break up oily buildup. Extra oily surfaces, such as chains, may only come up with the help of adegreaser.


There are multiple ways you can approach drying your ATV. It seems that each person has their own special technique of drying their ATV, so we’ll cover a couple of them. There’s of course, the sun and lint-free towel method. This is great if water spots haven’t set in yet. You simply remove most of the water with the lint-free towel and allow the sun to finish the job. Even better would be to use an air compressor. An air compressor is excellent for getting water out of even the smallest crevices of your ATV. Sorry towel users, but even a lint-free towel can’t dry every part of your ATV. Using a compressor may help you to avoid future rust issues because you’ll be able to dry every part of your ATV.

Add a coat of shine

If you don’t care if your ATV looks brand spanking new, then you can skip this step entirely. After all, you’re just going to take it back into the woods and get it dirty again. However, adding a coat of shine to your ATV will not only give it that “like new” look, but it will also help to minimize any scuffs on the plastic and give the faded areas on your ATV more longevity. The moment your ATV is completely dried and free of any water spots, you should spray it down with a good plastic polish. It’s recommended that you use a polish like SC1 or Plexor, which are sprays that you can spray on and wipe off to give the plastic on your ATV new life.

There you have it! Follow these steps, and your ATV will look brand spanking new in no time! There’s one more step you should take to keep your ATV looking fresh and clean (until you take it back out into the woods again that is). You should invest in a good ATV cover. Covering your ATV will allow you to protect it from the wind, rain, snow, and the spiders that roam your garage. With the combination of giving your ATV regular baths and protecting it from the elements with a cover you’ll keep your ATV looking like new for a long time to come.

Featured image: rihaij / Pixabay

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