My mountain bike is dirty from dust, mud and oil. Does it do any harm to the parts if I leave it dirty for a few more months - and for the sake of background information - or forever? I can imagine the granulate part of sand doing harm to the transmission (3x9 Deore XT), however that already happens if the mud splashes on it during the ride and the effect should wear off after some kilometers.
I'm interested on the effect of the varnish of the frame as well as dust entering into rotating parts (usually all embedded in an axle bearing) or the suspension fork. In order to remove oil film I need to use a degreasing product which might do more harm to those parts than the dirt remaining on it. Cleaning techniques involving pressured water might increase this effect.
Having clean tires is probably a good advise for security reasons/grip, but the combination of profile and my tracks causes them to become clean pretty much automatically.
The ideas should apply to other bike types as well.