We all know how important it is to wash our bikes to maintain them. But how do you go about it and how to clean a bike? You certainly don’t want to have a creaking chain or worn-out tires when you arrive at the house of your friends for the weekend.
Thus, I am going to discuss in this article how you can maintain your cycle in the best possible way.
Using this guide, you will learn how to maintain and clean a bicycle step by step. This will not only make your ride more pleasant but will also help your bike parts last longer. I will guide you through every aspect of cleaning and maintaining your bike in three easy steps.
A day or evening before your ride is the best time to service your bike. After all, any broken component on a bike right before you set out on that great ride is the most irritating thing in the world.
How to Clean a Bike — Essentials of Bike Washing
It is important to have the right cleaning supplies on hand whenever you plan to clean your bike. And I am damn sure that the majority of bike-washing essentials may already be with you if you own a bike.
Still, I would like to highlight some very crucial items that can have a considerable impact on your cleaning process. This way, if you don’t have any particular item, you can think about getting one.
1. Water Source
You’ll need a small bucket. Alternatively, you can use a large bucket too. Basically, any bucket will do. And make sure the bucket is filled with warm water. However, to perform the rinse task, use a separate bucket that is not filled with soapy water at all.
2. Bike Stand
Having the bike at a comfortable height will make it easier to work on it. As a result, all moving or hard-to-reach parts can be cleaned. You can also turn the pedals or remove the wheels by using a bike stand.
3. Chain Cleaning Device
Chain cleaning tools will keep your chain in good condition. Basically, these devices have rotating brushes that automatically scrub the chain’s outer links, inner links, and rollers. You will see a difference in the appearance of your chain after use.
Make sure the chain cleaning tool is filled with Dynamic Chain Cleaner before using it. Then hook it behind your derailleur cage so that you can clean the chain by pedaling backward.
4. Band of Brushes
There are five brushes included in the Band of Brushes. You can use all brushes for cleaning your bike without damaging it since they are bike-specific.
The set mainly contains the following brushes: Soft Washing Brush, Two Prong Brush, Wheel and Components Brush, Claw Brush, Drivetrain Detailing Brush
Degreasers are gentle cleaners that won’t damage your bike’s components. Always degrease your bike or automobile with a biodegradable product and avoid harsh chemicals such as kerosene or turpentine.
There are a variety of bike cleaning formulas available that work well for loosening dirt buildup without damaging the bike. There are some that come in spray form, and there are others that come in a concentrated liquid that needs to be diluted with water.
If you do not want to use a bike-specific solution, then you should opt for a mild detergent that does not contain salt, as salt content can slowly cause corrosion on your bike over time.
7. Bike Chain Lube
A good chain lubricant can make a substantial difference in the smooth engagement of the chain with the chainrings and cassette sprockets, as well as ensure proper shifting performance.
Aside from preventing corrosion, it also reduces drivetrain wear and friction. Thus, it’s essential to use it after cleaning your bike. Note that lube comes in two forms dry and wet lube. So, choose wisely.
8. Clean Rag
Various things can be used as a rag for cleaning purposes, such as chamois cloths, old t-shirts, microfiber towels, or even soft sponges. Paper towels also work well. Make sure you always have a few available for wiping, washing, and drying tasks.
9. Bike Cleaning Glove
Bike washing gloves are also a tool that is commonly used for the purpose of cleaning the bicycle. The advantage of using a bike cleaning glove is that it is very easy to reach every corner of your bike frame and clean it thoroughly.
Since the glove is made up of long fibers, it is able to absorb water, so you will be able to soak off dirt with it. The tool can be used for the following parts: frames, components, and wheels.
Step-by-Step Guide for Cleaning a Bicycle for Optimal Performance
Shiny and clean bikes not only look great but perform at their best for longer periods of time. A bike can be cleaned best by going over every step methodically. This is exactly what I have attempted to accomplish with this section.
Step 1] The Setup
The first thing you need to do is find a good place to clean your bike. Look for a place with good drainage. Make sure the area where you will work is well-lit and has enough space for you to work. A well-sheltered wash area is ideal.
If you want your bike to be off the ground, you should use a solid bike stand. This prevents dirt from splashing back onto your bike.
When it comes to pressure washers, you are mistaken if you believe you need one. You don’t want to strip important grease from bearings and damage your suspension by doing this.
Now the bike stand must be assembled. Ideally, you should find one that rotates 360 degrees so that you can stand still while spinning the bike. Next, you need a bucket; best if it is brightly colored so that you can see any oil or residue more clearly.
The next thing you must acquire is two brushes, one firm and one soft, alongside a garden hose connected to a cold water source and some cleaning products as well.
As far as the solution is concerned, it can be a simple, cheap washing liquid. However, it is advisable to avoid products used on cars as they can be extremely strong and contain oils that can contaminate disc pads.
Step 2] Wash
Now that the bike has been prepared in every way, it is time to wash it. However, there is a technique to follow here as well. Unless you have a strategy in place, you will not be able to clean it well. So, let’s take a look at how to go about it.
a. Clean your bike’s chain and drivetrain
Whenever you clean a bike, it’s important to clean the chain and other parts of the drivetrain first, since they often become clogged.
And the other reason to clean these two things first is to avoid any chances of spraying the dirty water onto the frame after you scrub away the dirt, which isn’t what you want if you have just cleaned it up.
For anyone who isn’t a bike whiz-kid: the drivetrain consists of everything on the bike that makes the back wheel turn. The chainset at the pedals, the cassette on the back wheel, and the derailleurs (the parts of the back wheel that feed the chain).
To clean it up, follow these steps:
- Scrub the chain and cassette with a stiff brush after spraying the degreaser onto them.
- The chainset and derailleurs should be scrubbed more gently with a degreaser if possible – removing them will make the job easier, but you can still clean them while they’re attached as long as you get into the little nooks.
- Remember, once your bike chain has been cleaned and degreased, you must oil it again with chain lubricant to prevent it from rusting. However, this step comes after step 3, which we’ll discuss in a few moments.
b. Cleaning bike frame and other remaining parts
After you’ve sorted out the drivetrain, you can focus on the rest of the bike. I am talking about the fun stuff here: the frame, seat post, handlebars, saddle, wheels, etc. Fill a bucket with warm water and mix in some bike cleaner (or washing-up liquid). Once that’s done, work your way through the bike component with a soft-bristled brush.
Remember, if you’re not paying attention, the mud chunks will fall off the frame onto the hallway underside. So, be careful while cleaning. Also, you should remove the wheels if possible, as it will make cleaning them easier. If you can’t, don’t worry. Just ensure you keep an eye on the rims and spokes of the wheels as you go.
When cleaning bike brake pads, you should gently brush away dirt – if this dirt is left on the surface of the pad for a long period of time, then it may begin to erode it.
Now, if you have removed any parts, just reinstall them and give everything a final coat of spray oil. Make sure the chain is completely dried before applying the chain lube – plenty of kitchen towels are perfect for both jobs. Don’t rush this part. Make sure all links are covered.
Finish up with some bike polish if you want to add a little extra bike shine. It’s really that simple.
Step 3] The Finish
Take the bike off the stand. Place the bike in the sun or another dry area, most preferably a warm one, so that any water sitting on the bike can drain. You can also use a paper towel or lint-free cloth to remove excess water.
After that make a note of any items you will need for next time in your notebook while you are inspecting your brushes and bucket. As soon as your bike is dry, it’s a good idea to lubricate your drive chain, removing any excess lube afterward. Water repellent can also be used to protect seals from water droplets.
If possible, hang your bike’s front wheel up by a hook and keep the brake levers higher than the calipers so that the lubricating oil in the forks is able to sit on top of the foam seals so that they will remain moist for smooth operation right away. It will also allow water accumulating in cables and frame pockets to drain.
How to Wash a Bike — Some extra cleaning tips
1. The best way to prevent dirt from sticking to your bike after you’ve cleaned it is to apply a specialist polish afterward. Make sure you don’t use household polish!
2. Don’t forget to inspect your bike while you’re cleaning it. Make sure you replace any worn components if necessary. You should check the wheels, chain rings, brake pads, and tires. Consider taking your bike to a bike shop if you notice any problems.
3. Work stands can save your back while you clean your bike and prevent it from falling over.
4. Cleaning your bike with specially designed products will give you the best results in the shortest amount of time.
Pros of cleaning a bike regularly
A new bike can offer cyclists a host of benefits, including a frame that shines in the sun and components that run quietly, smoothly, and efficiently.
However, shop freshness is short-lived, especially when the local weather is unpredictable. No matter how good your waterproof jacket is or how grippy your tires are – if you don’t treat your bike with the care it deserves, even the most expensive bike won’t stand a chance against the effects of the rain and mud-like elements.
You might think the cleaning process is a chore, but with the right bike cleaning kits, it won’t be. In this section, I have discussed why you should consider cleaning your bike after every ride. In short, the benefits of riding a clean bike.
1. Your components will last longer
A change in weather conditions can take its toll on your bike, especially in autumn and spring when rain, mud, and grit can build up on your pride and joy, causing components – particularly the drivetrain – to deteriorate rapidly.
To avoid costly repairs and replacements down the road, it’s vital to keep up with maintenance. In addition, keeping your bike clean prevents squeaks and creaks from ruining your peaceful ride.
2. Drivetrain efficiency will improve
In bad weather, your drivetrain – which includes your chain, cassette, chainset, front, and rear derailleurs – is in direct contact with all the dust thrown up by the road.
Keeping your drivetrain clean is therefore crucial to prolonging its life, as well as ensuring that it runs efficiently. After all, it is the drivetrain that converts your effort into speed.
The dirt on your drivetrain will create additional friction, so keeping your components clean will help you ride faster – and more efficiently – whether you’re chasing a strava segment or trying to win a club run sprint.
3. You will be the envy of the club run
There’s a good chance that you’ll want your bike to look as good as possible whether you’ve spent a lot of money on it or not. A cyclist’s equipment is one of the most important things he or she owns.
Moreover, if you ride the quietest, cleanest, and smartest bike on the club run, there is no doubt that you will be the envy of your fellow riders.
Best Bike Cleaners ranked by our experts for 2023
Bicycle cleaning is considered a tedious chore by many people. You can, however, simplify your process with some bike-specific cleaners available in the market. In fact, you will not only simplify the task but also enjoy it. So let’s check out some smart cleaners for bikes without further ado.
1. Oxford Mint Bike Wash
Oxford Mint bike washes all-purpose cleaner cleans your bike quickly and leaves it looking bright and shiny. This high-performance, biodegradable formulation comes in a 1l bottle with a foaming trigger, which makes the cleaner easy and gentle to apply to your bike, because it can be easily dispersed.
This product leaves a non-sticky finish on plastic, rubber, paintwork, metal, and carbon fiber surfaces. And naturally, it smells fresh and minty.
Directions for Use
1. Prior to using Mint Bike Wash, make sure the bike is thoroughly rinsed.
2. After spraying Mint Bike Wash on your bike, let it sit for a few minutes. To ensure even coverage, use an Oxford cleaning brush. Whenever heavy dirt deposits are present, agitate the area.
3. After rinsing, wipe the surface dry with a lint-free cloth.
Great For: Mint Bike Wash is brilliant on Engine casings, Metalwork, Paintwork, Jockey wheels, Forks
2. Duck Smart Bike Ezee
You can get an almighty shine on your bike and its parts with Bike Ezee without adding any water. You can use it to remove grime, oil, light dirt, grease, and dust while protecting your frame with a water-repellent coating. It also gives your bike a banana and chocolate smell, further preventing dirt and mud from sticking to it.
Directions for Use: It only takes a couple of sprays and a microfiber cloth to get started. There is no PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) in Bike Ezee, so it is safe to use on all disc brake brands without causing contamination.
Great For: Bike Ezee is brilliant on Carbon Fibre, Titanium, Paintwork, Rubber, and Aluminium parts.
3. Juice Lubes Dirt Juice
You’ll be able to enjoy shady summers and wild winters with this secret weapon because Dirt Juice is a fast-acting dirt and mud-fighting bike cleaner. When Dirt Juice is applied, grime is grabbed and thoroughly pummeled, leaving it unable to resist your bike-washing efforts. Besides working fast, it’s fully biodegradable, and it’ll also decrease your bits to make them sparkle.
Directions for Use
1. Point the hose pipe at the bike. And use water liberally to soak all the mud bits thoroughly.
2. Then use Dirt Juice, giving it an extra squirt if the mud has really stuck. Using a brush, clean up the worst of the goop and then let the Juice work its magic for two minutes.
3. If there are still any muddy areas, you may need to re-brush them after rinsing them with fresh water. Then again, rinse it. Lastly, make sure your chain and fork are lubricated.
Great For: It can be used on any surface, including pads, discs, and carbon fiber.
4. Muc-Off Nano Tech
With Muc-Off Nano Tech Cleaner, your bike will be free of mud and grime no matter how bad it is. This product works on a microscopic level to remove dirt and grime, but it also takes excellent care of the delicate finish of your bike.
Since Muc-Off’s unique formula is made with the finest ingredients and surfactants, therefore it is called one of the best-kept trade secrets in all of the bike industry.
Unlike those nasty, dangerous acids and chemicals, it has the best cleaning power out there. It is actually a 100% biodegradable cleaner that is free of any acids, CFCs, or solvents and is alkaline based, so you can give it a guilt-free try.
WARNING: It causes severe eye irritation. Keep children away from this product.
Directions for Use
1. Before applying Nano Tech Cleaner, rinse the bike thoroughly.
2. Allow 3-5 minutes to dry after spraying Nano Tech Bike Cleaner on the entire cycle.
3. Using a brush or sponge, work any stubborn grime out.
4. After washing the bike, rinse it thoroughly with fresh, clean water.
Great For: You can use it on any surface, and disc brake rotors while pads won’t be damaged.
5. Guy Martin Proper Cleaner
Introducing the world’s first water-soluble bike cleaner & degreaser, which comes in the form of powerful capsules, the Guy martin proper cleaner. The capsules dissolve into a 100% biodegradable liquid cleaner that can be used on any part of the bike. It reduces single-use plastic and fuel consumption, plus it takes up less room in your shed.
Two plastic capsules are supplied in a resealable pouch along with an empty spray bottle of Proper General Cleaner. You get 1.5L of cleaner once each capsule is diluted, so you get 750ml per capsule.
Directions for Use: Basically, it works by filling the provided spray bottle with half of the water, dropping it in the capsule, shaking it up, and then adding more water as per requirement.
Great For: The material is compatible with carbon fiber surfaces, anodized aluminum surfaces, as well as rubber surfaces. Additionally, the product is safe for disc rotors and pads.
6. WD40 Bike Cleaner
Bike cleaners, like WD-40 Bike Cleaner, are easy to use, biodegradable foams that are safe on various surfaces and bike parts.
It is prepared with a professional-grade formula that is specially formulated to help remove embedded grease and grime, preventing corrosion and surface wear, as well as preventing surface scratches and component wear. Experience the difference for yourself by using this formula once.
Directions for Use
1. Use the WD-40 Bike Cleaner’s wide spray nozzle to spray the entire bike. When tackling hard-to-reach areas or excess buildup, switch to the narrow stream.
2. Let the foam penetrate dirt and grease for a few minutes.
3. For extra-grimy areas, use a sponge, brush, or scrubber.
4. Once you have removed the cleaner, wipe the bike off with a cloth or towel, then polish the surface.
Great For: Safe for use on all bike surfaces, including titanium, chrome, carbon fiber, steel, aluminum, rubber, and plastics.
Wrap-Up — How to Wash A Bike
Clean, sparkling road and mountain bikes looks always good and ride efficiently. Moreover, your bike’s performance and life will be extended to the next level if you maintain it well.
The above tips will help you wash your bike easily and save you plenty of money. Hence, consider incorporating these points into your bike-washing process in order to get the best results.
Still, if you have any suggestions or doubts or something that I have missed, feel free to drop a comment below. I will be more than happy to assist you with your query. Please follow our Facebook Page for more guides like this.
Bike Wash – Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use WD40/GT85 to clean my bike?
WD40/GT85 can definitely be used to clean your bike. These water dispersants are quite effective at removing grime, muck, and dirt from chains and gears. Their shiny finish makes your bike look brand new.
It is important, however, to lubricate your bike chain after cleaning because they don’t act as lubricants. Additionally, keep them away from your rim brakes.
Can I clean my bike with baby wipes?
Yes, you can. In fact, I wipe down my bike’s frame and chain after every ride, no matter how clean it is. In about one minute, the bike is always spotless and doesn’t need to be thoroughly cleaned.
In addition, your drivetrain will last thousands of kilometers longer since it is always clean and will not wear fast. I really don’t know what they add to these things, but trust me, these wipes will clean everything from your baby’s bottom to the worst bike grease ever known to man. I even use them to shine my dress shoes.
Can I use a high-pressure hose to clean my bike?
To put it simply, pressure washing your bike is safe, but as a pro mechanic would do, you should follow some basic guidelines to avoid the risk of damage.
Pressure washing dos and don’ts
1) Avoid spraying directly at grease-containing components (headsets, bottom brackets, hubs, etc.) unless you’re using a lower-power pressure washer.
2) lowly move closer while spraying from a safe distance
Remove any delicate componentry
3) Make sure leather saddles or other absorbent saddles do not get wet
4) Ensure any degreaser has been thoroughly washed off before applying lubricant
5) Make sure that braking surfaces are protected from contamination, especially disc brake rotors