How to Clean Your RC Car (Step-by-Step)

Updated on
Blog cover: how to clean RC cars?

There’s no denying the thrill of zipping your RC car around the track or testing its limits in the great outdoors, but with all that fun comes the inevitable dirt and grime.

Cleaning an RC car might be a nightmare to some. Don’t worry; we will show you how to clean your RC car Step-by-Step. These tips can be used for RC cars on any scale.

Let’s get started.

Why is cleaning your RC car important?

There are two reasons:

  1. It maximizes performance.
  2. It saves you money.

Friction is the enemy of efficiency. Having dirt and grit in all your moving suspension and drivetrain parts is like having their own piece of sandpaper wearing away at each component.

Friction creates heat and heat kills electronic components.

For example:

The motor: If the drivetrain is all bound up, the motor has to work harder to move the car. The heat in this part is getting higher and higher, resulting in shorter motor runtime and reduced service life.

RC cars motor horizon hobby
How to Clean Your RC Car (Step-by-Step) 9

ESC: If the motor works harder, so do the ESC and battery. Both these things can be cooked by excessive heat.

Some brands of ESC may have a fan for cooling, and if that can’t spin because of dirt, grit, or grass stuck in it, it’ll overheat.

If you’re lucky, it’ll shut itself down before it sustains damage, but if you aren’t lucky, it’s new ESC time.

Steering servo: If the steering mechanism is all gunked up, the servo has to work harder to do its job.

Obviously, it’s not just the electronic components that function better when they’re clean: shocks, drive shafts, pivot balls. The whole car will last much longer and perform better when everything moves smoothly.

So, save yourself some money and have a faster, better-looking car—keep it clean!

What do you need to clean the RC car?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Canned air or air compressor (both are available at most hardware or automotive shops)
  • A leaf blower can be good too, as long as you’re outdoors
  • A couple of different stiffness and size brushes
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Cleaning solution
  • A can of trusty WD-40
  • Windex for added shine
  • Some wash soap
RC car cleaning tools

In the next sections, I will cover how to use these tools to clean your RC car.

Step #1 Remove the RC body and wheels

Use a wheel wrench to separate the body and wheels from the rest of the vehicle, making cleaning the remaining chassis and suspension components easy.

If your car is just a bit dusty, first tip it upside down to get the big stuff out. Then use compressed air to blow it down before using a suitable brush to get into those tricky, hard-to-reach places, paying special attention to components such as shocks, steering links, and pivot balls.

Step 2: Tip RC car upside down
How to Clean Your RC Car (Step-by-Step) 10

It’s worth trying a couple of brushes to see which works best for your car.

If your RC car has entered one hell of a mud pit, it’s time to take it to the next level of cleanup.

Step #2 Scrub with a stiff brush and a soft fiber cloth

You’ll still tip it upside down and bang out the big stuff.

A stiffer bristled scrubbing brush is great for breaking up caked-in mud and clay, and then blow off with an air compressor before wiping down with a microfiber cloth and your chosen cleaning solution.

Step 1: Use compressed air to blow the dust on the RC car
How to Clean Your RC Car (Step-by-Step) 11

Step #3 Emphasize do not use water to clean

If this still hasn’t got your car factory fresh, it’s time we talk about something you absolutely must never ever use to clean your car:


You might think, “Hey, my RC car is waterproof, dummy!”

You’d be right, but waterproof is not the same thing as submersible. A waterproof ESC still has a fan and battery connector that doesn’t really like water sitting in them and certainly doesn’t appreciate being blasted with a hose.

Step 3: RC car cooling fan for ESC
How to Clean Your RC Car (Step-by-Step) 12

Why do I say that? Water is a real corrosion promoter.

When using water to clean your RC car, be extra careful of all your metal components such as bearings, screws, and hinge pins. They’ll need to be properly dried and protected at the final cleaning stages to prevent them from seizing up or looking ugly with surface rust.

Also noteworthy is that you should not use water and compressed air to spray anything sealed, such as bearings or differentials, as this pushes the grit into tighter places and causes more damage.

If it’s easy enough, I prefer to take out the electronics from the car to keep them separate and dry.

Step 3: Remove the RC car battery
How to Clean Your RC Car (Step-by-Step) 13

Next, clean the electronics separately using a fine brush, damp rag, and compressed air. Spraying them with some contact cleaner before reinstalling is a good idea too.

If there is some sticky residue on the RC car, you need to use a special cleaner that will work wonders.

Remember, when using chemicals, read the safety directions to avoid hurting yourself or your beloved car.

Step #4 Dry the RC car & check other parts

Once you’ve finished scrubbing and rinsing everything off, it’s important to dry the car thoroughly.

Start by using a microfiber cloth to wipe and dry off all the excess water before finally drying them off with compressed air. A hairdryer in its cool mode also works well at drying the car off.

It’s a good idea to spray some WD-40 onto a microfiber cloth to wipe down metal parts to help prevent surface rust.

Step 4: Use WD-4D to wipe metal parts to prevent surface rusting
How to Clean Your RC Car (Step-by-Step) 14

Perform some basic checks before reassembly.

You must check for any loose screws, worn and damaged parts, squeaky or stiff-to-move parts, or anything that looks to be crying out for attention.

Step #5 Finally, clean the body and tires

Now, we focus on the body and wheels we removed earlier.


Spray the body with water to remove the bulk of mud and dirt before scrubbing the body with a sponge and soapy water.

Step 5: Clean the RC car body
How to Clean Your RC Car (Step-by-Step) 15

Then, use a microfiber cloth to dry it off. If you’re feeling a little fancy, spray with a bit of Windex to help bring back that factory shine. Be careful not to use any chemicals that will remove your stickers.


First, tape off the breather holes to prevent water from entering the tire foam and damaging them.

Step 5: Clean the RC car wheels
How to Clean Your RC Car (Step-by-Step) 16

Then, scrub the rim, tread with soapy water and a brush, and rinse them off with water.

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my Step-by-Step guide to cleaning RC cars.

Now I’d like to hear from you: Does this help you? Or do you have extra cleaning steps?

Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below.

Did you like this article? Rate it!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Photo of author

Written By Ted Dulles

I'm Ted Dulles, an avid RC hobbyist extraordinaire! My passion for the world of remote-controlled (RC) models ignited in 2018. Just a year later, fueled by this passion, I took a bold step and opened my own RC shop in California. I have a deep fascination with all kinds of RC models – be it cars, planes, or boats. I'm always eager to take on new challenges and absolutely love the thrill and excitement that come with this hobby.

Leave a Comment

RChobby Lab