Cleaning Your Bike

You may find it helpful reading our article Bicycle Cleaners and Polishes before proceeding with a cleaning routine.

Cleaning equipment:

  • Plastic bucket
  • Sponges
  • Degreaser
  • Cloth
  • Hard-bristled brushes
  • Cassette scraper

Although a bike is a very efficient and durable machine, some of its more delicate parts are at the mercy of the elements. Grit and dirt, for example, stick to lubricants and act as a grinding agent. Clean the parts regularly to keep them running smoothly and prevent them from wearing out.

While cleaning your bike, check all the parts and components for damage. With the wheels taken out, you can look at parts of the bike’s frame that are usually hidden and examine each component for signs of dangerous wear.

The process of cleaning is straightforward. First, remove old lubricants by applying a degreaser. Then wash the dirt off with water and detergent. Finally, rinse, dry, and lubricate the exposed moving parts.

Removing dirt and oil

Remove both wheels
(1) Remove both wheels (see image above) from the bike and put the frame in a workstand or hang it up. Place a chain holder in the rear dropout to keep the chain tight while the rear wheel is out of the bike. This allows the chain to run freely so that it can be cleaned thoroughly. Apply a degreaser to remove any old oil and grit. Spray onto the crankset, the front and rear derailleurs, and the chain, covering each link.

(2) Use cassette scraper to gouge out any dirt and debris that has accumulated between the cogs.

(3) Use hard-bristled brush on the cassette so that the degreaser reaches into the spaces between the cogs. Allow for a few minutes for the degreaser to work, and wash off with soapy water.

(4) Clean the rest of the wheel, including the tires, with a bigger brush and soapy water. Work the bristles in between the spokes and around the hub. Rinse with clean water and dry everything with a cloth.

(5) Spray the chainrings, crankset, and front derailleur with more degreaser if there is still stubborn oil and dirt (inset). Dip the sponge in hot, soapy water and wrap it around the chain. Turn the pedals so the chain runs through the sponge. Use the same sponge to wash the rear derailleur, the front derailleur, and the chainrings.

(6) Apply plenty of soapy water to the rest of the bike with a different sponge. Start at the top and work down. Use different-sized, hard- bristled brushes to work the water into the places that are hard to reach. Rinse with clean water and dry the bike with a clean cloth. Use a sponge to soap into intricate parts, such as between the brake arms and the pads. Replace the wheels sparingly apply light oil to the chain and the moving parts of front and rear derailleurs.

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Bicycle Lubricants