Ride your bicycle to work every day? Well, at some point your bicycle will get dirty, especially when you ride in the rain or over mud. And, cleaning your bicycle is likely the last thing on your mind. Or, maybe you have no time to clean it. Some of you will attempt to clean it by simply spraying it down with a hose, then leave it out to dry while others have the common sense to at least wipe it dry with a cloth.
Hate to tell you this, but this cleaning technique does not work. A bicycle is composed of multiple parts and components. And these parts are exposed to grime, mud, and debris during your ride. If you don’t clean your bicycle properly, it will eventually perform poorly.
Spraying with a hose may be able to clean the outer layer and appearance of the bike, but it won’t clean the cogs, gears, chains, and lever of the bike. Cleaning these parts from time to time will help improve your bikes performance, and it will help increase the bike’s lifespan as well.
Before we proceed to the cleaning process, we must first know what materials we’ll need.
Things you need to clean a bike
You don’t need fancy equipment and cleaning materials to clean your bike. Regular household items and some hardware products are all you need.
The most basic and most important cleaning material. With a clean and dry cloth, you could probably clean most of the bike’s parts. You could get a bike cleaning cloth but any clean rag or fabric of clothing will do.
A clean cloth is usually used to remove dirt, mud, and grime from the bike. It can also be used to lubricate some parts of the bike as well.
It’s almost impossible to clean a bike completely without water. Water can help remove mud, grime and other foreign material that is clinging to your bike.
However, we recommend that you use a low-pressure hose when you’re cleaning a bike. High-pressure water may damage some of the more sensitive parts of the bike. You should use a bucket of water, a low-pressure hose, or a cloth dipped in water to effectively clean your bike.
Soap, bike wash, detergent, and other cleaning substances
Soap or any substance designed for cleaning bikes will do. You could get a formulated bike wash or you could simply use diluted soap to do the job.
You’re going to need brushes of different shape and sizes for this. An old toothbrush is also a good option if you’re on a budget. The brushes are going to be used to clean the chains, brakes, and other small components of the bike. They will also be useful in cleaning hard to reach places as well.
Chain lubricant or Oil
It’s best if you could use a chain lubricant designed for your bike chain. However, if you are on a budget, then we highly recommend you use WD-40. WD-40 is a great all-around product that can be used to lubricate your bike’s chain.
First, you have to remove grease from your bike parts before you can put oil in your chains or other parts of the bike.
You should definitely get a degreaser meant to clean your bike. You should avoid kerosene, alcohol, and turpentine. Sure, kerosene might be able to degrease your bike but it’s too potent. Its potency may end up damaging your bike in the process.
This one is optional but having a bike will make your job easier. A bike stand will allow you to place the bike in the best possible position for cleaning. It will allow you to disassemble and clean the pedals, lever, chain, and other components of the bike without moving it around. Even hard to reach parts will be easy to clean when you’re using a bike stand.
General outline in cleaning a bike
It’s really easy to clean a bike. Most of the components of the bike can be easily cleaned with a dry cloth, some water, and brushes.
Here are 6 simple steps to clean your bike:
- Clean the outer layer of the bike. This includes the wheels, the bike frame, the bike seat, and everything that can be wiped with a cloth.
- Either leave the bike to dry or wipe it dry with a dry cloth.
- Disassemble the bike chain and start cleaning it.
- Clean the brakes, the derailleur levers, and the derailleur cables
- Lubricate the bike chain, the derailleur levers, and the derailleur cables.
- Put back the chain and other parts of the bike together. Make sure everything is in place before leaving the bike.
Tips on cleaning the various parts of a bike
Cleaning the bike frame
- It is recommended that you use a bucket of warm water mixed with diluted soap. Use a brush to gently remove the mud, dirt, and grime in your bike.
- It is easier to work from the top down than from the bottom up. You can start with the handlebars and work your way down to the brakes.
- Avoid using soap to clean the disk brakes, brake pads, and rotors of your bike.
- Use bike wash or specifically designed rotor cleaners to clean the brake pads, disk brakes, and rotors of the bike.
- It is highly recommended that you use a brush to clean the outside of the bike chain, the cogs, and the crags.
- After scrubbing and wiping off the dirt. Rinse the bike using a bucket of water.
Cleaning the bike chain
- Remove the chain from the bike so you can clean it easily.
- Use a degreaser to properly remove grease and grime.
- Wait for the degreaser to dry before cleaning it up.
- Use a small brush to remove dirt and grime that are clinging to the chain.
- You could use cotton buds to clean hard to reach places.
- Lubricate the chain with a decent amount of oil.
- Do not over lubricate the chains.
- Again, you can use cotton buds dipped in lubrication fluid to lubricate the hard to reach places.
Cleaning the brakes, derailleur levers, and derailleur cables
- Dissemble the brakes, derailleur levers, and derailleur cables to clean them properly.
- Use a cloth to properly clean the brakes.
- Apply a small amount (a drop or two) in the derailleur lever pivots.
- Use a cloth dipped in lubrication fluid to lubricate the derailleur cables.