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How to Clean Motorcycle Hand Grips (A Simple Guide)

Over time dirt, grease, and grime will slowly build up all over your motorcycle handlebar grips.

This, in combination with water and hand sweat and oils and the general deterioration of the rubber, will make motorcycle handgrips dirty and sticky.

There is no way to keep your grips from getting sticky and dirty again. It is a normal process. This is why it is a good idea to clean your motorcycle grips thoroughly as well when cleaning your motorcycle. Sooner or later, all riders will have to clean their motorcycle grips, which is a part of the proper maintenance and care.

What follows is a simple guide on how to deal with sticky, dirty, or greasy motorcycle grips while avoiding some common cleaning mistakes that can damage your grips over time.

The best way to clean motorcycle grips

The best way to clean your motorcycle grips is by using regular dish soap, warm water, and a brush. The combination of warm water and dish soap can remove dirt and grime buildups. It is also good for fixing greasy and sticky motorcycle grips as it will wash the grease away.

Here’s how to clean motorcycle grips:

  1. Mix mild soap and warm water.
  2. Use a cloth, scrubbing brush, or a kitchen sponge.
  3. Damp the cloth or sponge in the soapy water.
  4. Using the damp cloth or sponge scrub the dirt on the motorcycle grips away.
  5. Be careful not to damage or chip parts of the grips.
  6. Allow the motorcycle grips to dry completely.

Both dish soap and water are not harmful to rubber. Using a simple cloth or brush and strong scrubbing, you can clean most motorcycle grips without damaging them.

An old toothbrush can also be used to clean your motorcycle grips.

If a lot of dirt and grime has accumulated and does not come off, you can use a little baking soda. Mix the baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Apply the paste onto the motorcycle grips and use a brush to clean and remove the dirt.

Baking soda has an abrasive texture and can be used successfully to remove dirt and grime buildups in combination with a brush. However, make sure not to apply too much pressure because you can damage or scratch the surface of some motorcycle grips.

Can you use a degreaser to clean motorcycle grips?

Degreasers can be used for cleaning motorcycle grips. However, some degreases can damage some rubber or metal motorcycle grips. 

Cleaners and degreasers like Simple Green can do a great job cleaning some motorcycle grips and making them less sticky, but applying the solution for too long or using stronger degreasers can damage or stain some grips.

If you are going to use a degreaser, make sure to check if it is suitable for rubber or metal. Test it on a smaller area of the grips or a different object before using it to clean the whole grip. Do not allow the solution to sit for too long on the grips, and rinse them well with plenty of water after cleaning them.

Can you use cleaning wipes to clean motorcycle grips?

Cleaning wipes can be used to clean dirty motorcycle grips, as long as they do not leave any residue behind. ​Alcohol wipes, lens cleaners, and alcohol pads can also be used to clean motorcycle grips.

Cleaning wipes like Armor All cleaning wipes (the purple ones) can do a good job at cleaning dirt and grime buildup on your motorcycle grips. It is not recommended to use the protectant ones because they leave residue streaks on the grip.

Can you use silicone spray to clean motorcycle grips?

Silicone spray can also be used to clean dirty and sticky motorcycle grips. Many riders swear by it as it can offer both water and corrosion protection, and it can make the grips look like new.

Can you use lighter fluid to clean motorcycle grips?

Lighter fluid can be used to clean dirty or sticky motorcycle grips. However, the lighter fluid should not be allowed to sit for too long on the motorcycle grips as it can start damaging the rubber. After cleaning your motorcycle grips with lighter fluid, make sure to rinse them well with plenty of water.

Can you use rubbing alcohol to clean motorcycle grips?

Rubbing alcohol can be used to clean dirty or sticky motorcycles grips. However, rubbing alcohol can eventually damage the rubber on the grips, so it should be used with care. After using rubbing alcohol to clean your motorcycle grips, make sure to rinse them with plenty of water.

How to clean metal motorcycle grips

Metal motorcycle grips can be made from metal like aluminum or have both metal and rubber parts for additional grip on them.

  1. Use regular dish soap and water to scrub off the buildup dirt on the motorcycle grips.
  2. Rinse the motorcycle grips.
  3. Prepare a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water
  4. Dip a towel or a piece of cloth in the solution and let it soak up a little.
  5. Scrub the dirt and grime buildups with the towel.
  6. Rince the grips thoroughly.

Lemon juice can also be used instead of white vinegar, but white vinegar tends to be the cheapest option.

If the vinegar and water solution is not enough to clean and remove the grime on your metal motorcycle grips, you can use a little cream of tartar and water to make a paste-like substance. Place the paste in the areas that you want to clean, and try scrubbing the area with a piece of cloth or a towel.

Now, if you do not have a cream of tartar, a similar paste of one part baking powder to two parts lemon juice can be used.

How to clean leather motorcycle grips

To clean leather motorcycle grips:

  1. Use a leather cleaner to clean the dirt and a leather conditioner to preserve the leather for longer.
  2. Spray the leather cleaner on the motorcycle grips and wipe it off using a microfiber towel.
  3. Applying the leather conditioner, and wipe it off using a clean microfiber towel to avoid cross-contamination.

If the leather grips are so dirty or dry that the leather cleaner is absorbed almost immediately, then spray more of it. Be mindful when wiping the cleaner and conditioner off, and do not press too hard on them. However, if unable to clean the dirt with a towel, consider using a brush.

How often to clean motorcycle grips

Motorcycle grips should be cleaned at least once every one to four months. If you are riding frequently, you may have to clean them every month, and if you are riding less often and storing the motorcycle indoors, you may need to clean them every 2 to 4 months.

Dirt bike grips may need to be cleaned way more often. However, many riders will not bother cleaning them. Some grips may even fall apart before ever getting cleaned up due to the nature of riding.

For more information on how often it is recommended to clean your motorcycles as well, I recommend checking out my article on how often to clean a motorcycle.

What happens if you do not clean your motorcycle grips?

If motorcycle grips are not cleaned regularly, they will get very tacky and sticky. Not all riders will enjoy how sticky the grips are, and it is possible for the sticky grips to interfere with the riding experience. The dirt, grime, sweat, and other buildups, can be very unhygienic, as well.

What NOT to use for cleaning your motorcycle hand grips

It is generally not recommended to clean your motorcycle grips with WD-40 or similar products. Lubricants and cleaners like WD-40 tend to leave residue after evaporating and can be too aggressive on some rubbers and foam surfaces, eventually damaging them. 

It is not recommended to use acetone, gasoline, kerosene, naphtha, turpentine, Windex, or vinegar. Using products or any solutions that have too much alcohol can also damage and dissolve rubber. Even brake fluid, paint thinner, can damage rubber motorcycle grips.

Strong acids below pH 4 or very alkaline solutions above pH 9 can also damage aluminum motorcycle grips and should be avoided. For example, some strong kitchen degreasers can damage and stain aluminum in just a few seconds after application.

If you are unsure, apply the product you are using on a smaller inconspicuous patch of the grips or on another object made from the same material. Leave the product you are using for a while, and then try scrubbing it off to see if there are any signs of damage to the material.

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