It is very easy to spill a little gas on your motorcycle’s gas tank. To a certain degree, this is something normal and can happen to anyone. In other cases, a mechanical fault in the pump can easily lead to gas spilled all over your motorcycle.
In either case, it will be important for you to know how to properly clean the gas off your motorcycle.
How to clean gas off a motorcycle? The best way to clean gas off a motorcycle is by using a soft cotton cloth and some mild soap to wipe off and clean the gas before it fully dries. Cleaning the gas off the motorcycle should be done as soon as possible as it can damage the clear coat and paint.
There are a few caveats here that are worth exploring and understanding. Below you will find more in-depth information about the proper clean up after gas spills.
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Best way to clean gas off a motorcycle
Most riders may get really worried about spilling gas on their motorcycle. However, cleaning the gas off the motorcycle is quick and easy.
So fret not, young rider. Below I share with you the time-proven and best way to clean gas off your motorcycle.
1. Use a soft cotton rag or a paper towel
Ideally, you want to use a soft cotton rag or cloth that will not damage the clear coat.
However, not everybody may have a soft cloth handy this is why a good idea of what you can do in a pinch is to quickly grab a few paper towels and use them to soak up the gas spill.
Paper towels should be readily available near the gas pump, including soap solution for cleaning car windshields.
Keep in mind that using paper towels to wipe the gas may scratch the motorcycle’s clear coat.
2. Use mild soap and water
After you have removed most of the gas off your motorcycle, make sure to wash it with some mild soap and rinse it with plenty of water.
Do not use dishwashing or regular household detergents as they can be too aggressive and damage the clear coat and even paint.
While at the gas station, you can also try to dip a few paper towels in the window soap cleaner solution that should be near the gas pump and try to wash most of the gas spill off the motorcycle.
3. Dry the motorcycle
You can either leave your motorcycle to air dry on its own or wipe it dry with a soft cotton rag. Make sure you are using a soft piece of cloth and not something that can damage or scratch the clear coating of the motorcycle.
4. Wax the motorcycle
After your motorcycle has been thoroughly cleaned, it is a good rule of thumb to wax it. Waxing your motorcycle will not only give it a more shiny and fresh look, but it will also protect the clear coat and paint job.
You may also need to consider polishing your motorcycle before applying the wax if needed.
In either case, do not use buffers or polishers as they can do more damage to the clear coat and the paint.
What happens if you do not clean the gas off the motorcycle?
It is important to know that spilling a little bit of gas on the tank or the motorcycle will not necessarily damage it.
To a certain degree, gas is good for cleaning and removing gunk, dirt, grime oil, and other build-ups.
As a general rule of thumb, you want to clean the gas off the motorcycle as soon as possible. The good news is that gas evaporates with time and the smell of gas also goes away after a day or two.
You can even leave the gas to thoroughly air dry for a few minutes, and you will be good to go. Gas evaporates very quickly and does not normally pose any hazards once fully dried.
However, the longer the gas is left to sit in contact with your motorcycle’s fuel tank and any other parts of the motorcycle, the more damage you are risking doing to those parts.
If you leave the gas to dry, it will eat through the wax and clear coat; it can even damage the paint. Gas can be extremely corrosive to paint and will usually leave light brown stains that can be very hard to remove. In certain cases, even thoroughly washing and waxing may not help.
The extent of the damage to the clear coat and paint will vary depending on the type of paint and coating used. Most paints used nowadays can be very resistant to fuel and may not get damaged in any noticeable way. However, single-stage enamel paint, lacquer, and rattle-can paint will be more prone to damage from gas.
If left unattended for longer periods of time, gas can even damage and leave stains on plastic and rubber parts of the motorcycle.
See article: How often should you clean a motorcycle?
How to clean gas stains off a motorcycle
It is always good to clean the gas off the motorcycle as soon as possible and not leave it to air dry on its own. The longer the gas is left to stay in contact with any painted, plastic, or rubber surface, the more damage it will do to it.
Gas stains can be removed even after they have dried off, but sometimes they can be very difficult or even impossible to remove completely. So it is always good to prevent them from forming in the first place.
The process of cleaning gas stains of a motorcycle is the same as cleaning gas spills—simply use dish soap and water.
Since the gas would have time to eat through the clear coat (and the wax if you are waxing your motorcycle) and form a stain, it may be worth using some more specialized cleaning solvent like Cleaner Wax, Purple power, or Prep-sol.
A good car polish (like the Meguiar’s all in one paint cleaner and polish) can be a good way to clean the gas stain and blend things together. Do not focus only on the stained area. Use s softer cloth and polish the whole area in order to blend it as evenly as possible.
Make sure you are not using any buffers or polishers and do it by hand.
Acetone or a methylated spirit can be used for cleaning carburetor and other metal surfaces that may have been stained by the gas.
A few words on safety when cleaning gas off a motorcycle
The biggest fire hazard is if the motorcycle parts where the gas has spilled are particularly hot—like the engine, for example. The problem is not with the liquid in particular but with the gas vapors that can be released afterward. In theory, the mixture of gas vapors and oxygen can—though not very likely—combust if ignited by a spark.
If you have spilled gas over your motorcycle’s tank and engine, wipe it off and give it a few minutes for the remaining gas to dry off before starting your motorcycle again.
Spilling large amounts of gas over your motorcycle is a fire hazard and should be treated as such. It is true. A motorcycle will not burst into flames that easily, however, safety should always be put in the first place.
Can you prevent gas spills from happening?
The more experience you have with filling up your motorcycle’s engine, the less likely it is to experience gas spills. However, they are entirely avoidable.
Use proper fuel tank filling procedures
Do not press the start button before the nozzle is in the fuel tank.
Make sure not to get distracted while filling up the fuel tank and always monitor the fuel level.
Do not pull the nozzle out before it has stopped dripping fuel. Shake off the remaining drops of gas, turn the nozzle upwards as you pull it out of the fuel tank, and replace it.
In addition to that, do not put the nozzle all the way in the fuel tank—you need to be able to see the fuel level. And if the nozzle is all the way in, it will activate the auto-shutoff before your fuel tank has been completely filled up. The fuel should reach the tank’s filler neck, and because of this, it is very easy to overfill your fuel tank.
See article: How often do you have to fill up a motorcycle?
Stay focused on the fuel pump’s nozzle and monitor the fuel level in the tank.
Depending on where you live to activate the fuel pump, you may need to pull the vapor guard with your fingers.
Some riders may decide to keep an eye on the fuel pump’s numbers and get easily distracted to the point where they overfilled their fuel tank.
See article: Can you overfill a motorcycle gas tank?
A faulty gas pump that does not stop when you release it can also cause you to overfill your gas tank and spill a lot of fuel all over the motorcycle.
So being able to react quickly is a must—report the issue to the gas station employees and manager as they should be able to shut off the nozzle.
Use a protective tank cover
Use a motorcycle tank gas protectors. Although not often used, tank protectors can be a cheap way to add an extra layer of protection to your motorcycle’s fuel tank.