Paint Care

Professional Tips on How to Care for Your Artwork


The information provided here is based on the opinion of the author and other independent sources.  It is not intended to discredit any person, product or company.  Readers are advised to form their own opinions based on research and experience as has been done here.  No person or company associated with this information or web site shall be held responsible for the actions of any person using this information.

Protect your Investment

In 40+ years of painting motorcycles the question I am asked most often by my customers is: “How do I take care of my paint?”  Over the years I have researched many different professional sources, so I could give my customers an informative and accurate answer to that question.  The information in this article can be used by anyone who wants to take good care of their motorcycle, regardless of who painted their bike or whether it is painted at all.  I have tried to include some important dos and don’ts to help protect your investment.

Most pin-stripers or free-hand artists are probably using 1-Shot Lettering Enamel to do their work.  It is an exterior, oil based, enamel paint that will maintain its gloss, shine and durability in all types of weather conditions.  It is designed to create exterior signs that stand outside in the weather, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through all 4 seasons.  It is so durable that I give all my customers a lifetime guarantee on everything I paint but even the best products require some informed care by their owners.

Things to Avoid 

If you clean your bike with Windex or other glass cleaners like Windex you should be aware that, although it will clean the dirt from your paint and chrome, it will also remove your wax and polish.  This means every time you clean your bike with Windex, you will need to wax it again to maintain a level of protection.  Some pin-stripers even use glass cleaners to prep their bikes (remove the wax) before they paint on them.  Isopropyl alcohol can be used to remove tree sap and Mineral Spirits can be used to remove road tar but both products will also remove your wax and polish.  After using these products, you should reapply your wax and/or polish to the affected area.

In my opinion, you should never use glass cleaners on a motorcycle windshield.  Motorcycle windshields have a very thin coating on their surface to protect the clear plastic from scratches.  These glass cleaners may cause sections of this coating to come off, leaving that area susceptible to scratches.  In my opinion, you should never use Rain-X on a motorcycle windshield.  Although I believe Rain-X works great on glass it is the opinion of some people that it may cause a motorcycle windshield to turn cloudy.  The one product you should never use on your custom Scarecrow Artwork is a product that cuts oil and grease off engines.  Any product that cuts oil and grease will also remove wax and polish.  The company has requested we not mention their name on this web site.


Here are some important recommendations from professionals who do the detailing on expensive show vehicles.  Wax is for protection!   Polish is for shine!  Once or twice a year, at the beginning of the season and/or before you put your bike away for the winter, you should put on a good coat of Carnauba wax to protect the finish.  Carnauba wax is made from a plant and leaves a clear protective coating over your paint after it dries.  The rest of the year you should use a good brand of polish to help maintain a good shine.  Any detail or cleaning products made by Maguire’s or Mothers are highly recommended.  Any polish that says 'shake well' has been diluted.

It is very important that you do not leave dead bugs on your bike.  A dried bug can eat through your factory paint if left there long enough.  The best thing for cleaning bugs off is very warm water on a soft cloth.  Remember that dish soap is designed to clean dishes, not motorcycles!  It is very abrasive.  When you use soap in your wash water, use a good, car wash soap designed for clear coat finishes.  I don't know if it's still available but the Mr. Clean Auto Dry system has a de-ionizing water filter (like the spot free rinse at the car wash) that removes the minerals from the water that cause spots on your paint and chrome.  It eliminates the need to dry your bike after washing.

Honda or Harley Spray Polish and Cleaner is a good all purpose product that people use on paint, chrome and windshields to clean road dirt and remove bugs.  (Note: The Harley Spray Polish and Cleaner is the same as the Honda Spray Polish except that the Honda Polish has a lemon scent and the Harley Polish has a musk scent, even though some of my Harley customers swear to me that the Honda Polish works better.)  Some people will use the Spray Polish to clean their whole bike.  Some carry a can in their bike to clean bugs off the fairing and windshield when they stop to rest or buy gas.  Maguire's also makes a quick detail formula.

Smart Alternatives

A company called Cycle Care ( makes and sells a complete line of polish and cleaning products, made in the USA, designed specifically for the motorcycle owner.  They also offer products that address motorcycle specific problems such as leather care, chrome, paint and metal polishes and a great Scratch & Scuff remover to remove surface paint scratches and the rub marks on tanks from knees or intercom cords. 

Ultimately the shine and beauty of your motorcycle is largely determined by the pride and motivation of its owner but hopefully this information will help some readers to better maintain their paint and protect their investment.
Ride safe,
Scarecrow ~ Post Office Box 2 ~ Bryson City, NC 28713 ~ 828-788-0505