Motorcycle Windshield Care & Cleaning

Motorcycle windshields require a bit more care than car windshields. It isn't simply a matter of splashing water on and wiping it with a paper towel at the gas station. By Art Friedman.

The plastic used to make motorcycle windshields is not as scratch-resistant as the glass windshield on your car, and as a result you can not treat it the same way. If you let it get scratched it will soon become hazy, especially when riding into the sun or oncoming headlights.

If you want to make your motorcycle's windshield sparkle, don't use paper (since it will only scratch the plastic) and don't use those gas station squeegies. Apply warm water and a mild dishwashing liquid with a soft cloth to soak your shield before wiping, and avoid glass-cleansing agents such as Windex, or petroleum-based chemicals such as Rain-X and Armor All -- the solvent action of the alcohol in these products can be harmful to some shields. To remove scratches, break out yet another soft clean cloth together with a fine grade buffing compound; hand buffing is recommended for most screens.

To help prevent bugs from sticking to your windshield, use a polish containing wax (but consult the shield manufacturer's recommendations before applying anything). If you simply try to remove a bug that's stuck to your windshield, it will smear if wet or may scratch if it has dried and hardened.

The best way to relocate your insect collection off your windshield is to lay a clean, very wet towel with plenty of nap on the bug-splattered side of the windshield for a couple of minutes. Let the water soak and soften up the offending insect carcasses. Once the water has softened them up, the bugs and their juices can be wiped away easily, using the same wet towel, without scratching the plastic. Be sure you don't use any kind of paper towel, as it will cut into plastic. Follow up your wet wipe with an application of your favorite cleaner-polish. We're partial to Pledge because it's inexpensive, fills small scratches and its basic solvent does a good job of unsticking bug entrails.

When not in use, most windshields can be protected by sliding an old cotton T-shirt over them.

For more articles on how to maintain and modify your motorcycle, see the Tech section of