Time for a spring clean? Top tips for cleaning your side-by-side or ATV…
With the weather warming up, there has never been a better time to give your Polaris ATV or side-by-side (SXS) a proper deep clean so you’re ready to ride into summer…
It’s not just about making sure your Polaris looks its best, it’s also about protecting your investment. After days spent roaming through the fields or out on the trails, the build-up of mud, dirt, sand or dust on your vehicle can damage it – from unsightly stains to serious rust and engine contamination. With a bit of time and effort, you can make your ATV or SXS ready to take on summer with a better-looking and longer-lasting machine.
What tools and supplies do you need to clean your vehicle?
Cleaning your side-by-side or ATV doesn’t require a whole arsenal of tools and supplies. You can wash adequately with a simple detergent or soap, a plastic scraper, and clean cloths, towels, and/or a sponge. For water, you can use either a garden hose or a pressure washer.
Other items that could come in handy include an air compressor or leaf blower for drying, and waxes, polishes, and sprays for post-cleaning treatment.
Pressure washing your ATV/SXS
You can certainly use a garden hose with a spray attachment to wash and rinse your off-road vehicle, but a pressure washer makes the job even easier. You’ll want to be mindful of the settings when power washing your UTV, as you can blast away decals and graphics if you’re not careful. You can use either an electric or petrol-powered pressure washer; the latter will usually be the more powerful option.
A pressure washer is useful at more than one stage of the SxS cleaning process. It’s a good first step for dislodging mud and to wet more caked-on dirt so it’s more easily scraped or scrubbed off. Spray down the side-by-side, let things soak for a few minutes to soften up hardened dirt, and repeat as necessary.
After you’ve lathered up your ride, you can use the pressure washer to rinse off the suds.
What type of soap is best for your SXS or ATV?
There are a lot of options for soap or detergent for cleaning vehicles. The soap/detergent you use should be tough enough to tackle the grime and mud that comes with off-roading, but not corrosive enough to damage your machine’s body or mechanics. Mild washers are the name of the game. A degreaser may also be used in conjunction with the gentle cleanser, though not on plastic parts.
Some components of your ATV or SXS require their own kind of wash. If your vehicle has a polycarbonate windshield, don’t use a regular window cleaner as this can damage it. Instead, opt for hand soap, liquid dish soap, or some other analogously easy cleanser. Fabric cleaner, meanwhile, can freshen up your seatbelts.
Scrubs & cloths
Let’s talk about the best manual tools for cleaning SxSs. A plastic scraper helps you take on those large mud clumps but be careful not to apply too much pressure to scratch the paint or plastic underneath. Use a microfiber cloth/shammy/sponge or a washing mitt for washing and scrubbing without damaging the body. Use a soft cloth or towel for drying; a sponge can be handy for blotting a polycarbonate windshield.
Speaking of those windshields, remember to lather with your cloth using a gentle side-to-side pattern, not a circular one.
Choosing the right plastic cleaner for SXS/ATV parts
In many cases, you can use the same gentle automotive detergent/bike wash for plastic parts as for other parts of the ATV or side-by-side. Special-purpose plastic cleaners are also available. A plastic polish at the end brings out that just-like-new shine, while silicone sprays can minimize mud adherence on your next ride.
Avoiding rust with a proper drying technique
Thorough, prompt drying of your freshly washed ATV or SXS will help you combat rust. Simply letting your machine air dry can result in water spots, and may promote rusting where rinse water lingers.
Use a lint-free towel or water dispersing agent to dry off your vehicle. You can speed the drying process by running your engine and letting your vehicle heat up.
Using a leaf blower or air compressor to dry off your SXS or ATV
It’s nice when the garden tools you’ve already got in the garage can serve another purpose. A leaf blower or air compressor can make drying your clean vehicle a breeze.
Make a cleaning routine
Meticulous washing of your SxS after every ride is a surprisingly important part of vehicle maintenance, and it really doesn’t have to be that much of a pain. Getting in the habit of a regular quick clean will keep your ride better protected from rust and performance problems, and it’ll make those deep cleans much quicker so you can focus on other things with your down-time, like vehicle maintenance!
Read our top 5 ways of maintaining your ATV or SXS here…