Motorcycle-Friendly Household Coatings

Three household cleaners that work great on bikes.

When the greenbacks in your pocket are few and you have a choice of polishing your bike or putting gas in the tank, the fill-up wins. As it should! And happily, of course that means you can go riding. As such, young riders without a lot of spare coin—or anyone on a budget—can benefit from looking for inexpensive alternatives to keep their rides looking good. And surprise! Some of the products commonly found in the household pantry or stored under the kitchen sink work remarkably well for detailing your bike. Here are three common household protective coatings we’ve used with success.

Pledge Lemon Enhancing Polish

Smells Good Too

Your bike may smell lemony fresh after using this, but you can laugh all the way to the bank after detailing with this inexpensive product.Amazon

Found probably in just about every household, this spray-on wax works on wood tables, but it will also work on your motorcycle paintwork and chrome. One main job of any wax is to isolate the surface from the elements—particularly moisture—and the ensuing oxidation, and there's no denying Lemon Pledge will help do this. Keep it away, however, from your tires, seat, and grips!

Rutland Black Stove Polish


Designed for cast-iron stoves and similar, this product can also keep your painted-steel exhaust pipes looking good in between repaints.Amazon

If you have an old-fashioned wood stove, heater, or Dutch oven, you're likely familiar with Kettle Black. Designed for black stove-iron castings, it's highly heat-resistant and helps keep oxidation (i.e., rust) at bay on iron while restoring some of the original black finish. We've used it on vintage black exhaust pipes to banish rust in between repainting. It can smoke, though, when your engine heat-cycles for the first time.

One Step Mop & Glo Floor Cleaner

Protector Of Pipes

Designed for floors, this transparent, easy-to-apply, and durable wax can also keep bare steel exhausts rust-free and looking good.Amazon

Custom bikes sometimes use factory-looking welded steel exhaust systems that remain unplated or unpainted by intent. This bare steel looks terrific, but it starts oxidizing quickly when exposed to air and moisture. An economical and quick protector for such pipes—and other uncoated steel parts found on your build—is a coat of Mop & Glo. Inexpensive, readily available, and easy to wipe on, it will provide an invisible barrier between the bare steel and our moisture-laden atmosphere, nicely inhibiting rust. It’s a great solution to bikes in museums or longtime storage too.