How To Remove Bugs From Motorcycle Without Ruining Your Finish

motorcycle riding gear

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You’re going to hit bugs when you ride there’s nothing you can do to avoid it.  Here’s a simple method how to remove bugs from a motorcycle that works well without scratching and ruining your paint.

Do you hate spending time getting your motorcycle all nice and clean only to have it covered with bug guts?

Nothing can be more frustrating at the end of the days ride and looking at the front of your fairing seeing tons of bugs caked all over… well everything.

Left unchecked bug guts can eat through your wax job and cause damage to your paint and windshield if not dealt with in a timely manner.

bugs with stripes
The longer your leave bugs on your motorcycles finish, the worse the damage over time.

There are a lot of ways that bug guts can be removed, but the safest method to get them loosened up for cleaning without scratching or damaging anything is using plain ‘ol warm water and cotton towels.

This method gets bug debris loosened up and ready for you to wash your motorcycle.

How to remove bugs from motorcycle, safest method:

Soak 100% cotton towels in warm to hot water and apply towels to affected area and let stand for 1-2 minutes. Wash with soap solution and apply wax.

The purpose of this method is quite simple;

It re-hydrates the bug guts on your motorcycle which in turn loosens them up for washing.

The cool thing is that you can just use water to accomplish the task without crazy chemicals that might have a bad reaction to the plastic on both your fairing or windshield.

What you need:

Container filled with warm to hot water (mild soap is optional)

100% Cotton Towels (at least two)

Separate Bucket w/Soap solution (whatever you wash you motorcycle with)

2nd bucket with soap

Wash sponge/rag


Microfiber rags or other soft rags for waxing/finishing

How to remove bugs from motorcycle step by step

This method is pretty easy, but there are a couple of crucial things to know. Let’s break it down.

Step 1: Fill bucket with warm or hot water

Find yourself a good size container that will not only hold the water you’re going to be using but also the rags.

I keep a couple of five-gallon buckets on hand to hold everything in, but you can use any decent sized container.

There are advantages to using either a large bucket or a smaller bowl but it may depend how big your particular job is.

If you’re trying to get bugs off of your windscreen and the front of your fairing, you may want a larger bucket (five gallon) because you’ll be using more water and multiple towels.

For working on just your windshield, you may only need a bowl large enough to hold the water and some rags.

bird in bucket

After you’ve found the container you’re going to use (or the kitchen bowl your wife will allow!) we’ll be filling it with water.

You’ll want to at least put warm water into the container.

Whenever I use this bug removal method (or just wash my motorcycle generally) I use as a water as I can stand. I’ve had good results so far.

Step 2: Use 100% Cotton towels

Make sure that whatever rags you’re using for this job are a pure cotton. The towels that you’re using can either be bath towels or the cotton baby diapers, it doesn’t matter as long as they’re cotton.

Why cotton?

Cotton is a breathable material that’s gentle and doesn’t scratch surfaces and it’s easy to buy just about anywhere.

Rags that contain a cotton/polyester blend can leave scratches and damage the finish or windscreen.

What about using a microfiber rag?

Microfiber rags are great for polishing, waxing and finishing, but not for cleaning. Although microfiber is highly absorbent, it’s also made up of synthetic materials.

[blockquote align=”center” author=”MCTT”]My preference are the cotton baby diapers. You can get them just about anywhere and when you buy them they usually come in a nice bundle. They’re not super big and hard to manage like a towel.

I’ve used them for not only cleaning my motorcycle but polishing my boots back in the day in the military. They’re always good to keep on hand.[/blockquote]

Step 3: Soak the towels

Now we’re going to take the towels and put them into our container of warm (or hot) water. Make sure that they are good and soaked.

If you’ve already made one application of towels make sure that you rinse any previous bug debris off of your towel before you re-apply.

Step 4: Apply towels to affected area

Wring your towel out so that they are not dripping wet.

You don’t water getting anywhere on your motorcycle where you’re not working that dries and leaves water spots.

Simply drape the towels on the areas of your windshield and fairing that your trying to clean.

Let the towels remain in place for about 1 or 2 minutes.

At this point the bugs should be good and loosened up. Feel free to use your towels to wipe the area down and clean. If necessary, you can re-apply the warm towels as many times as you’d like.

I always use the same towels for the same job every time. In other words, if I use a cotton towel to clean bugs, that’s all I use it for. Same with waxing and finishing rags.

As a friendly reminder, make sure you rinse the bugs out of your cleaning rags when your done so they’ll be ready for the next time.

There is always a next time!

Step 5: Wash you motorcycle like normal

Once you have the bulk of, if not all bugs cleaned off wash your motorcycle with whatever method or soaps you normally would use.

The nice thing is this;

You’ve already done a lot of the hard work, so now you can get down to the nitty gritty of getting your motorcycle cleaned and polished.

parked motorycles on the street

Step 6: Wax your motorcycle

When you’re all done with the bug removal and washing your bike, the final step to keeping bugs off of your motorcycle is to put a nice coat of wax on it.

Get this:

Waxing your motorcycle not only makes it look awesome, but also serves to protect it against bugs the next time you ride.

The thing is, if you did use hot water to help get the bugs off, you’re going to need to use some kind of wax or finishing product to help protect the bike.

Clean your motorcycle quickly

Remember that as soon as an insect commits suicide by hitting your motorcycle it starts the process of decaying.

Bug guts are essentially acidic and the longer they remain on your fairing and windshield the more damaging they can become. The longer they remain on your finish, the more potential damage they can do.

Remember this;

If you fail to clean bugs off of your windscreen, it may become permanently damaged and stained and no product will reverse it.

The best defense is a good offense where you wipe your motorcycle down as soon as possible with a rag or sponge and soapy water.

The sooner you clean you bike either after a ride or during the less likely you’ll have any permanent damage caused by bug guts etched into the finish or staining the windscreen.

What I’m using to make my motorcycle look awesome

armor all wash and wax
I highly recommend Armor All’s Wash and Wax. A little goes a long way, so a bottle will last quite a while.

For washing

I’ve been using Armor All’s Wash and Wax protectant and I highly recommend it.

It does a great job cleaning and waxing the bike at the same time.

As long as I clean my bike right away after a ride with a lot of bugs, it does a great job and I don’t need to use hot towels.

For me, Armor All’s Wash and Wax has been a great all in one solution. I’ve used it on my fairing, windshield and chrome with no issues.

The finish work

final touch by 3D
Final Touch by 3D has become my new favorite product shine my motorcycle with. It works on the paint, chrome and windscreen.

A good friend of mine got me started using a product called “Final Touch” by 3D. It actually does a couple of things;

The first, it makes my bike look awesome! I can shine my motorcycle up in way less time than it would take to wax it.

The second is that it works as a bit of a cleaner. If I have any leftover bugs on the bike that I missed I can put on a little extra and it will remove them.

Using these two products for me not only makes my bike look great, but simplifies the whole washing and waxing process for me.

Other methods to clean bugs off a motorcycle

There are almost as many opinions as there are riders out there that have suggestions how to remove bugs from a motorcycle.

I’ve gathered a list of the most popular, but in the interest of full disclosure, I have yet to try any of them.

Just remember when it comes to applying any cleaners and other products to your windshield, be very careful.

Products to remove bugs:

  • Pledge (A favorite amongst Goldwing riders for years)
  • Rubbing alcohol (also used by detailers to remove water spots)
  • 50/50 mix of hydrogen peroxide and water
  • HD bug remover
  • Meguires quick detail spray
  • Dryer sheets in warm water
  • WD40 – for bugs left on
  • Simple green
  • Pam cooking spray
  • Simple Green

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