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Cleaning a 4 Wheeler in 4 Easy Steps

How Pressure Washing an ATV Keeps It Looking New

By Brian Teitelbaum  |  Pressure Washer Expert
Remember the day you brought your new ATV home? It shined, just like your eyes did as you imagined the fun times you'd have riding it.

What you didn't imagine is how dirty it would get every time you took it for a spin. Cleaning a 4 wheeler by hand with a standard hose takes a lot of time and a lot of elbow grease.

If you want to keep a clean machine without burning through the midnight oil and what little energy you have left after a day of riding, we suggest investing in a pressure washer.

The right tools and a little know-how make it fast and easy to return your off-road buddy to its former glory.
  1. Pre-Soak

    As you return from your ride, your ATV is covered in thick chunks and layers of dirt. It's mostly dried by now, and it's not going to simply wipe clean.

    The first step you want to take is to saturate all of the dirt and let it soak. Use a 40-degree (white) fan spray tip, and spray it down thoroughly so that there's no dry dirt left.

    Stop and let it soak in for a few minutes. If there are exceptionally thick areas of dirt, you may have to spray those areas down again and let the water penetrate all the way through.

    This process will help loosen and soften the dirt so it comes off easier.

  2. Spray It Down

    Now that the dirt has had time to soak up the water you sprayed on it, you can spray the bulk of it away. Using a 25-degree (green) spray tip, spray the dirt away from top to bottom. Walk in a circle around your quad as you clean to make sure you're hitting it from every angle.

    Be sure to focus on the bars, the frame, the wheels and the fenders. These areas love to hold mud, and can make it easy to miss some. Spray the whole thing down a couple of times to make sure you've got it completely clean of dirt, then spot check it to make sure you didn't miss anything.

  3. Use Detergent

    For the best clean, use a little detergent. It's best to brush or scrub the detergent on, and you can either do this by hand or with a rotating pressure washer brush. For even easier detergent application, use a foamer to coat your entire ATV with a thick lather.

    Automotive detergent will work wonders on your four wheeler and have it clean as can be. For oily spots, like those that result from chain lube being flung during a race, you can apply a bit of degreaser. Let the detergent and degreaser settle for a few minutes while they work their magic.

    Once the detergent has had time to do its job, spray it down again with your pressure washer to remove any remaining oils or debris.

  4. Shine It Up

    As soon as you're finished rinsing your quad clean, use a soft lent-free towel to dry it off. Don't let the water dry on the ATV, or it may leave water spots and residue.

    Buff every part of it dry from the top down. Dry the seat, the plastics, the handles, any part of the frame you can, and the wheels. This will leave it looking completely clean all over.

    If you have an air compressor, you can blow water out of the hard-to-reach places to deter rust from forming too. Lastly, to keep your ATV looking like new, you should polish the plastics with a plastic polish. Meguiars makes a great plastic polish, but there are many kinds on the market for you to choose from.

    Your four wheeler now looks like new again. Do this after every time you go riding, and it'll stay looking like new for years to come. And while this may sound like a lot of work, it's not. The pressure washer does most of the work, and you'll be done before you know it.

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