Most of the advice you find about cleaning vehicles is targeted toward traditional paints, which will be waxed to a high shine. But what if you have a different style of paint? A matte paint motorcycle has a bold and distinctive elegance, and it’s definitely an eye-catching look when it’s clean. Just because it’s not shiny, though, doesn’t mean it’s easier—in fact it can be trickier finding the right products. Cleaning a motorcycle presents its own unique challenges, as well. We’ve put together some tips here on how to clean your matte paint motorcycle so it looks its best all the time.
1: Use a liquid matte paint sealant
There’s a myth in the automotive world that matte paint can’t be protected as well as other paints since most sealants, waxes, and other protective coatings add gloss by default. The truth is, you can find sealants that are specifically designed to protect your paint without giving them any gloss or shine.
This set from Dr. Beasley’s (>>> Check on Amazon) gives you everything you need to keep your motorcycle looking great for longer after you’ve cleaned it. It is a bit pricier than your typical wax or sealant kit, but that investment is worth it for how much better your paint job will look long-term. If you’re looking for something on a bit of a tighter budget, Chemical Guys Matte Spray Sealant (>>> Check on Amazon) will get the job done at around ten bucks a bottle.
2: Get the right cleaners for the job.
In a similar vein to the point above, you won’t get the best results cleaning a matte vehicle with a wash made for a gloss finish. Over time, these washes will gradually enhance the shine of your car—good for a gloss finish, but bad news for matte paint. Make sure you get a car wash designed for matte or satin finishes (>>> Check on Amazon). They’ll clean your motorcycle without adding unwanted shine.
Look for a car wash that has a neutral pH rating. Basically you’re looking for a cleaner that’s only soap, with no added compounds that could change the look of your finish. Especially avoid any cleaner that contains wax. When you use this on a flat finish, like matte, it can make it splotchy—not an attractive look.
Some people mistakenly believe you can clean a matte paint with household dish soap. It will often remove the grime effectively, but dish soap can also weaken the hold of any sealant, and make the paint look duller over time—and not in the way matte paint should be. If you’re looking for a DIY option, many motorcycle-owners swear by ammonia-free window cleaner.
3: Use diluted alcohol to remove unwanted shine.
Sometimes trace amounts of oil and dirt can linger on the paint of your motorcycle after you wash it. This is almost unnoticeable on a vehicle with a glossy finish, since it just becomes a part of the overall shine, but it can ruin the effect of matte paint. The good news is it’s easy to remove. Just dilute some plain rubbing alcohol and apply it to a soft cloth to remove them. The shine should come right off.
4: Be more mindful of damage.
Matte paint is harder to maintain than a glossy finish for one key reason: there is no way to fix any scratches, etches, or other damage to the paint once it happens. You can’t buff or polish out the mistakes without ruining the overall matte effect.
This is the main reason it’s so important to seal your matte finish as soon as you get it home, to prevent as much of this damage as you can. It’s also key to remove stuck-on debris like dead bugs or bird droppings from the paint as soon as possible—left too long, they can etch the paint and cause long-term, uncorrectable damage.
There isn’t always a lot you can do to prevent damage while you’re on the road, but you can be especially careful when you’re cleaning your motorcycle. We talked above about the kinds of cleaners you should use, and make sure you’re using a high-quality microfiber for mitts and towels. Soft-bristled brushes are great for the wheels and rims, and the use of high-pressure washers isn’t recommended, even around the engine—you don’t want to risk it stripping the sealant or damaging the paint.
The Final Word on How to Clean a Matte Paint Motorcycle
Matte paint isn’t just normal auto paint without the glossy finish. There are subtle differences in the paint that prevent it from reflecting light, creating that shine-free effect. This means cleaning a matte paint motorcycle requires different tools and a different approach than cleaning one with a traditional glossy paint.
Ultimately, the key is to stay on top of your cleaning and maintenance routine. Regular washings will prevent the build-up of oils and debris that can damage the paint job over time. Preventing damage is the only way to keep your matte finish sharp in the long-term. Hopefully the tips above will help you to do just that.