White wall tires can be quite difficult and annoying to maintain. However, when you follow the right steps and keep a regular cleaning routine – it’s really not that bad. The key is cleaning them periodically in order to avoid a large buildup of grime.
Now, there are few different ways that you can go about cleaning white wall tires, but some of them have serious drawbacks.
But before that, let’s briefly discuss chemical cleaners that you shouldn’t use on your tires.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Harsh Chemicals on Tires
While some chemicals may seem effective in cleaning the stains and grime, they may negatively impact your tires. Some of these chemicals include:
Bleach and Alcohol
The use of bleach and alcohol might seem like a good idea, however, it may cause permanent damage to your tires. One of the disadvantages of using bleach and alcohol is that they are powerful oxidants and are quite harsh to tire rubber.
Bleach and alcohol are also known to cause the breakdown of UV conditioners and polymer bonds. This dries out the rubber over time and causes hairline cracks in the sidewall, which not only reduces the lifespan of the tire but also poses a safety risk
WD-40 is useful for versatile cleaning needs and works extremely well on chain oil and other roadside grime. Though it’s certainly effective, the cons that come with it are quite serious.
WD-40 is a very oily, water-resistant chemical. Because it’s oily, using it on motorcycle tires is a very bad idea and will put you in danger of losing traction while the motorcycle is leaned over. Seriously, there are quite a few stories of guys losing traction while cornering and going off the road – just because the tires were slippery due to tire dressing, etc.
How to Clean White Wall Tires on A Motorcycle
Cleaning oily, and grimy white wall tires on a motorcycle can be a hassle. You need to make the right choice of cleaning agents that you are going to use. Most of the commercialized chemicals and bleaching agents may yield short-term benefits, but the long-term damage that comes with using them makes it not worth the risk. Therefore, we recommend going for mild cleaners.
Things That You Will Need:
- Microfiber towel
- Scotch Brite pads
- Clean water
- Soapy water or Simple Green
- Baking soda
Once you have everything set, follow these steps to get your white wall tires back to brilliant white. Sure, there are different ways you could go about this, but the following is the least likely to cause any harm to your tires.
1. Choose Your Cleaner
The first step is to choose the right cleaning product. It all depends on how grimy and oxidized the sidewall is.
For maintenance cleaning, you may just use soapy water and a brush, but if there is a lot of grime or if the white wall looks yellow, then you’ll need something that’s more specialized and works better than just soapy water. All you need to avoid are petroleum-based products. With that said, Simple Green is the most popular choice for a good reason.
2. Clean The Rims First
Cleaning the white sidewalls should always be the last step because cleaning the rims afterward will make dirt drip down to the sidewall.
So get your soapy water and a microfiber towel, and clean the rims first. If the grime is really oily and difficult to remove, use WD-40 but make sure you don’t get any on the tire. WD-40 removes chain oil extremely easily and does not damage the paint on the rims, however, it does damage tires and can even make you slip if it gets on the tread.
3. Scrub The Sidewall With Scotch Brite Pads
White wall tires turn yellow because of UV damage, heat, and oils from the rubber leeching through – that’s why being gentle with them won’t get you far. You need to remove the uppermost microscopic layer that’s damaged, and the best way to do that is scrubbing it hard with a Scotch Brite pad or something similar.
First, spray the sidewall with Simple Green to soften up grime and lubricate, then scrub with Scotch Brite pads. Keep scrubbing the same area until it turns bright white – there is no magic shortcut, just good old elbow grease. Once you’re satisfied with how your sidewall looks, rinse it off with clean water.
4. Apply Baking Soda
If you’re still unsatisfied with how your sidewall looks, then it’s time for the finishing touch – baking soda. Baking soda is a really underrated cleaner and it works wonders on pretty much any surface, even whitewall tires.
Sprinkle some baking soda in a clean damp cloth and wipe your motorcycle white walls in small circular motions, just like you would while buffing off car wax. Rinse the cloth and reapply baking soda every few minutes until you’re satisfied with the results.
Cleaning white wall tires on a motorcycle can be quite annoying, but it doesn’t have to be. If you follow the right steps and make sure to clean them regularly (once or twice a month), then you won’t have to put nearly as much effort.
However, you need to make sure that you don’t reduce the lifespan of your tires, as some cleaning products can be too harsh for tire rubber and accelerate dry rot. Always stick to mild soap-based cleaners that are specifically designed for use on tires.
And most importantly – never ever put tire dressing on motorcycle tires. If oily tire dressing drips down to the tread, then you will risk losing traction while leaned over.
Jake is the site’s primary contributor.
Motorcycles and automotive repair have been a big part of his family for generations, therefore it’s only natural that he decided to become a heavy-duty diesel tech.
Outside of work, you’ll find Jake restoring and riding rare street bikes and ATVs.