How to properly clean a motorcycle windshield

By: On: June 4th, 20087 Comments »Updated: October 13, 2012

 

motorcycle windshield

How to properly clean a motorcycle windshield or cleaning a helmet and face shield is a question many riders ask.  The thing about motorcycle windshield cleaning or face shield cleaning, is that if it is not done properly, you could make your windshield or face shield look even worse than before you started.

Even though the windshield on a motorcycle is strong, it gets scratches in it when you simply try to wipe off dust. These scratches will only get worse as you continue to wipe! Stop wiping and don’t panic, because you can easily fix this problem yourself with these special motorcycle windshield cleaning products that the professionals use.

While checking out new motorcycles at a local dealer, we noticed that some of the windshields on these brand new bikes looked scratched already.  It looked like someone tried cleaning them with a rag or something that wasn’t very clean (probably trying to remove fingerprints from customers).  When you think about the advanced technology that went into designing and manufacturing these beautiful motorcycles, it’s amazing how just a few scratches on a motorcycle windscreen can kill the entire impression of even the coolest looking motorcycle.

So, the question about how to clean a motorcycle windshield usually comes up after the first attempt to clean it doesn’t go so well.  That’s ok, we explain below how to fix this:

Plexus motorcycle windshield cleanerAs it turns out, it’s not too hard to remove scratches from a motorcycle windshield.  Motorcycle windshields are commonly made from polycarbonate sheet that has been cut & formed.  Polycarbonate generally has a high impact resistance and is a really good material for motorcycle windshield manufacturers to use due to the high impact resistance and strength it has.  A couple of the worlds largest manufacturers of polycarbonate sheet (Sheffield/Bayer and Sabic/formerly GE), advise the following methods for cleaning & scratch removal.  However, please do whatever your user manual, your dealer’s instructions, or your aftermarket motorcycle windshield manufacturers instructions show first.

First, Do NOT not clean a polycarbonate motorcycle windscreen when it is in the hot sun.  Don’t use alkaline cleaners.  Don’t leave any cleaners on the windscreen for long without rinsing.  Don’t use a squeegee.  A squeegee could leave scratches or smears.  And please, don’t use gasoline to clean your windscreen.

Craftics CleanerTo get the best results for motorcycle windshield cleaning, DO rinse it with warm water prior to cleaning, and then rinse with lukewarm or cold water after cleaning.  A great type of motorcycle windshield cleaner to use on polycarbonate windscreens, which almost all are, is Plexus, or you can use common stuff like 409, Joy, Windex with Ammonia D, Palmolive, Naphtha VM+P Grade, or Isopropyl Alcohol.  We recommend using a clean, really clean, soft cloth instead of paper towels.

Plain old mild soap and water is the best place to start as long as you make sure your soap does not have any abrasives in it.  Obviously, don’t use gritty hand soaps like Lava.  Even Soft Scrub has some abrasives, so avoid that too.  Personally, I don’t recommend the Isopropyl Alcohol from my experience with polycarbonate windows on industrial machines, so I don’t trust too much for motorcycle windshield cleaning either, even though it is theoretically ok to use.

For removing “hairline” scratches from a motorcycle windshield (the type that come from cleaning with a dirty cloth in showrooms or at home) polycarbonate sheet manufacturer’s say should be done with these motorcycle windshield cleaning products:  Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Clear Plastic Polish, Cleaner & Detailer, Novus Plastics Cleaner and Polish #1, or Plexus Plastic Cleaner & Polish .  Craftics 20/20 and a clean microfiber cloth is also very good for cleaning your windscreen from road dust.  Novus Plastic Polish #2 and #3 can be used for removing scratches rather than daily cleaning.

These motorcycle windshield cleaner products each include detailed instructions that vary slightly by manufacturer.  Even though there may not be specific motorcycle information on these labels, this really is all the right stuff to use.  Plast-Tec plastic cleaner for motorcycle helmets windshields amd morePolycarbonate is also used for manufacturing the clear head light covers on most of today’s cars.  You’ll notice a lot of them turn cloudy or hazy looking as they get older because of the years of sun exposure.  So, you may see instructions for hot to clean car headlights, or pictures of car headlights on some product labels.

If your motorcycle windscreen scratches are just too deep to polish out, or is cracked, then there are a lots of aftermarket options available if the dealer cost for an original is too high, or if the factory replacement part is no longer available.  If your motorcycle is a popular make and model, you likely will be able to choose from a variety of motorcycle windshield manufacturers.

Some of the best aftermarket motorcycle windshield manufacturers are: National Cycle, Rifle Fairings, Sportech, Harris Performance Technaflow.

Acrylic Motorcycle WindscreenAnother material used for some motorcycle windscreens is Acrylic.  When you seen a colorful windscreen on a motorcycle, there is a good chance it is acrylic.  Polycarbonate windscreens do come in a few different tints also though.  Acrylic does not typically have the strength or impact resistance that polycarbonate has.  So, if you are going for looks more than protection, such as as on a show bike, then acrylic windscreens might be more interesting.  Some popular acrylic motorcycle windshield manufacturers are Memphis Shades, Puig Racing Screens, Zero Gravity windscreens, Hotbodies Racing, Lockhart Phillips and Slipstreamer.

Plexus cleaner in mini pump spray bottleHow to clean acrylic motorcycle windscreens you ask?  First, don’t use paper towels, use a freshly cleaned soft cloth.  For just regular removal of road dust, you can use Novus 1, Craftics 20/20 cleaner, or other similar plastic cleaning products if the label says that it is ok for acrylic.  In fact, this is the same stuff to use for cleaning a motorcycle helmet, cleaning motorcycle fairings, and is also for cleaning helmet face shields.

Windscreens are not just for big motorcycles, you can get them for scooters too.  Some scooters already come with a polycarbonate windscreen from the factory.  Same advice applies to cleaning scooter windscreens and it does for cleaning motorcycle windscreens.

If you have some other handy tips or tricks for motorcycle windshield cleaning or for removing scratches from motorcycle windshields, let fellow riders know what worked best for you by sharing that motorcycle info in a comment below.

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

» has written 130 posts

7 Responded

  1. […] California windshield you choose, be sure to keep it clean the right way.  Be very careful when cleaning a motorcycle windshield, otherwise you could create tiny micro-scratches that can make it look hazed.  Those scratches […]

  2. Dave Bench says:

    When I look through my windsheld its like looking through a foggy glass.how can i clean it or do I have to replace it.The windsheld is a yamaha factory one. Thanks

  3. John says:

    If you’ve tried the basic cleaning techniques described in the article, but your motorcycle windshield remained foggy, then I recommend switching to a an actual polish such as Novus 2, and if you have any significant scratches, you could start with Novus 3, then follow up with Novus 2 to polish.

  4. Robert Greimann says:

    Part of a tire caught my windsheild.Thought about trying to buffer on the deeper scatches.Has anyone out there tried this?Tried the Novus 3 but it didn’t help much.

  5. cmusemeche says:

    Just a heads up about some of the products mentioned to clean polycarbonate windshields in this article. According to the National Cycle website no products containing alcohol or ammonia should be used “Do not clean acrylic or polycarbonate screens with common glass cleaners. The solvent action of the alcohol or ammonia will destroy the plastic. Do not allow brake fluid, alcohol (including Rain-X or similar agents), ammonia, or strong solvents to contact the screen, as permanent damage will result.”

  6. John says:

    Cmusemeche, thanks for the heads-up and the info from National Cycle. I looked into this some more, and Sabic, the maker of Lexan brand polycarbonate sheet, says “Do not use alcohols on the UV-protected surfaces of Lexan sheet.” We can probably assume that most motorcycle windshields are made of UV-protected sheet since they are made for outdoor use. I say let’s add this towards the end of the many reasons why alcohol and motorcycles don’t belong together!
    John

  7. Bryan Dover says:

    I agree with cmusemech. Be very careful in what you use. I almost fainted when I read “Windex with Ammonia D. NO!!! That is WAY to strong a cleaner for Polycarbonate. Nor should you use alcohol. The best cleaner is pure old water and use your fingers to clean the bug spots. The wipe with the softest, finest cloth you can find.