How to Clean the Electrical Contacts of Your Motorcycle

Routine maintenance is not just about changing the oil and waxing your bike’s paint. You should regularly inspect and clean the electrical system of your motorcycle. If you wash your bike regularly, then you should also learn how to clean the electrical contacts of your motorcycle.

You can easily avoid the accumulation of corrosion, dirt, and debris on the electrical system of your bike by cleaning the electrical contacts at least twice a year.  You should clean them more often if you use your bike every day, since your machine is constantly exposed to sun, wind, rain, snow, and salt.

You can also avoid electrical problems like dimming lights, spark plug misfires, problematic switches, and even hard starting if you pay just a modicum of attention to those sensitive electrical contacts.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths surrounding this. There are people who claim that their methods are the most effective, while others say that purchasing a can of electrical cleaner is the only way to go.

If you really love your bike, you need to know how to clean electrical contacts like a pro. But first, here are some things that you need to know.

  • Never clean electrical contacts with plain water only. Water and electricity DO NOT mix. Accumulated moisture inside the contacts are the primary causes of electrical shorts and malfunctions.
  • You should be careful when purchasing so-called ‘contact cleaners’, because some of them can damage or destroy plastic parts. These harmful cleaners have a tendency to dry out the plastic parts of your electrical contacts, which will eventually cause cracks or breakage.
  • There are times when you need to remove certain parts in order to access the electrical contacts. If you don’t know what you’re doing, then I highly suggest that you let an expert do the job. Mixing and matching the contacts may cause adverse effects on the entire electrical system of your bike.
  • It would be best to let your bike cool down before removing and cleaning the electrical contacts, especially after riding it for a while. If you just washed your bike, it is better to dry all surfaces thoroughly before removing and cleaning the contacts.

How to Clean Motorcycle Electrical Contacts

There are a lot of ways to do it, but here are the most proven methods to clean the electrical contacts on your motorcycle or car.

Clean Battery Contacts with Baking Soda

Corrosion deposits will decrease the performance of your motorcycle battery. If you see a lot of whitish and fuzzy stuff on your battery terminals, those are actually deposits of sulfuric acid.

You can easily remove corrosion deposits on your battery terminals and connectors by using baking soda and water.

Things that you need:

Step 1: Sprinkle baking soda on terminals and connectors

It would be better to remove the electrical connectors from the battery terminals before proceeding, but you can leave them on if you like.

Sprinkle a moderate amount of baking soda directly on the terminals, especially on heavily corroded areas. Use enough baking soda to coat the connectors and terminals.

Step 2: Pour water

Pour a bit of water on the terminals coated with baking soda. This will cause a bubbling reaction. Don’t worry, this is normal. The baking soda is dissolving and neutralizing the build-up of sulfuric acid on your battery connectors.

Step 3: Scrub using old toothbrush

Get an old toothbrush and use it to scrub off the corrosion from the connectors and the battery terminals. Pour a bit more water to rinse the area. Wipe dry using a cotton rag.

Helpful tip: After cleaning with baking soda, you can smear a thin coating of petroleum jelly on the terminals and contacts to protect against corrosion.

Clean Electrical Contacts with Contact Cleaner

For headlight sockets, handlebar switch pods, ignition switches, fuse holder clips, and turn signal light sockets, you can clean them using a commercially available contact cleaner like the DeoxIT D-Series by CAIG Laboratories.

Contact Cleaner

I personally use this product on my motorcycle because it not only cleans and deoxidizes, but it can also improve the conductivity on all electrical contacts. It can instantly dissolve corrosion and flush out any dirt and debris.

Best of all, this product is safe to use on all plastic parts.

Step 1: Spray cleaner on one connector at a time

Disconnect one electrical socket at a time, and spray a small amount of contact cleaner on each socket.

Step 2: Wipe off excess cleaner

Wipe off excess cleaner with a clean cotton rag before connecting the sockets again.  

Repeat step 1 and step 2 for each successive electrical contact.

Using Alcohol to Clean Contacts and Sockets

You can also use 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean electrical contacts if you don’t have a contact cleaner on hand. You can buy isopropyl alcohol from the nearest grocery or convenience store.

Things that you need:

  • 70% isopropyl alcohol
  • Q-tips or cotton swab
  • Cotton rag

Step 1: Disconnect one socket each time

Disconnect one socket at a time when cleaning them. This will prevent mixing up electrical connectors, which can lead to disastrous results.

Step 2: Pour a bit of alcohol on cotton swab to clean electrical contacts

Simply pour a small amount of alcohol on one end of the cotton swab.  Use this to clean the electrical connectors and sockets. Use the dry end of the cotton swab to dry the area.

Make sure to wipe off excess alcohol with a clean cotton rag, especially from your paint. This may cause stains or unsightly marks on your bike’s finish.

Repeat step 1 and step 2 to clean all electrical contacts of your bike.

Isopropyl alcohol is safe to use. It won’t leave a lot of residue on your electrical contacts, and it dries easily as well.

Make sure that the contacts are dry before reconnecting them.

Conclusion

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to learn how to clean electrical contacts. What you really need is a bit of time and patience so you can thoroughly inspect and clean the entire electrical system of your bike.

Remember that clean electrical contacts will ensure that your motorcycle performs flawlessly each and every time you hit the open road.

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