I’m pretty sure that since you invested your hard-earned cash in your bike, you’d want to have it in the best shape possible, right?
Well, just taking it to a repair shop for maintenance, upgrades or repairs is amazing but unfortunately, it’s not enough.
As it turns out, cleaning your bike regularly will do wonders. The best part about it is that you can do it yourself. Well, it’s not as easy as just swiping a wet towel over the dirty parts or releasing a spray of water using your hose and that’s where we come in. Depending on why your bike is dirty, there are lots of different ways you can get it clean.
At the end of the day, you’d want to keep rust, grime, and dirt away and in the long run, buy your bike some extra years of operation. That being said, let’s dive into it.
Here’s how to clean a bike easily and the best way to clean your bike properly.
When to wash your bike
First things first, you need to know exactly when to wash your bike since you don’t have to do it each time you come from a ride. Well, you could do some light washing such as wiping the chain down and lubricate it a little more.
On the other hand, if your bike is filthy, such as when you come from a muddy terrain, you’ll want to do a full washing. If particulates get into where they aren’t supposed to be such as in the bearings, the bike’s performance will be profoundly affected.
In some cases, you may be short-handed and don’t have a bucket of clean water or access to a hose. In such a scenario, it would be a good idea to pay a visit to a bike shop.
Essential tools needed to clean your bike
Bucket/Hose and plenty of water: Either of the two will work provided you just have enough water to clean and rinse your bike
Clean rags: I’d recommend that you keep plenty of these at hand. Doing otherwise will leave you at a disadvantage when dealing with oil and grease
Gear brushes: here, you simply have to get brushes that’ll get into hard to reach places with ease. Soap / general cleaner: the best way would be with preformulated bike wash but diluted dishing soap would do just fine too
Chain cleaning tool: you could get a chain cleaning device and if you don’t have one, a stiff-bristled toothbrush will do
Degreaser: DO NOT go for kerosene or turpentine. I’d recommend a solvent that’s easy on your hands and the environment to clean up gummy parts like your chain
Paper cloth: this will come in handy when you need to do some touch-ups around the rotors.
Bike polish: to give your bike a sparkle (optional), you’ll need this once you are done with the major cleaning process.
Bike stand: necessary before you start to handle the cleaning so that you can have it at a comfortable height as you work on it.
How to clean a bike – Step by step DIY cleaning tips
Here is a step by step guide to getting your bike cleaned the proper way.
1. Using a hose, spray your bike.
The first thing you’ll want to do is rinse down the frame. We recommend using a hose for this. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, you just need to get water all over your bike. As such, you can also use a bucket of water and a sponge if you can’t find access to a hose.
If you choose to use a hose, you don’t need to use a lot of pressure such as what you’d get from a pressure washer. This could result in water getting into the bearings which then leads to rusting which is the last thing you’d want.
2. Clean up the derailleur and chainset.
When you get to the drivetrain, you’ll not want it to be gummy at all when you are done. To get it clean, simply soak it up with a degreaser. Next, using a drivetrain brush, scrub the components down real good.
These include the chainring, cassette, and derailleurs. If you find it hard to do the cleaning with the chain still on the bike, you could take it off to do the job thoroughly. When you are contented that the drivetrain is clean enough safely dispose of the degreaser.
3. Get the wheels and tires as clean as possible
You couldn’t avoid getting these dirty and they need to be cleaned up, right? To get it done right, you’ll need to use a dirty brush. Simply plunge it into a bucket of water mixed with just a few squeezes of soap.
So, why soap?
Soap not only serves to get the tires clean but if you have any puncture in them, the hole will result in the soapy water foaming up. If any, you can then patch it up before going for your next ride. As it turns out, it will be quite easy to maintain your bike if it’s cleaned, right?
4. Wash down the frame
By now, the bike should be cleaned up pretty well. The last thing you need to do to complete the cleaning process is to get a bucket of water/hose and a soft brush. With this combination, you should be able to clean any crud off the frame.
Unless you were careful, you are bound to have a little bit of grime and grit. Similarly, don’t use a lot of water pressure. Just rinse it gently with your soft brush. With the bike clean, you will be able to notice any scuffs from your shoes or dings. These are quite easy to take care of.
5. Final touches
If, for some reason you are in a rush, you could pat the bike dry using a clean towel. Otherwise, just let it sit in the sun and dry up.
Reoiling: After the chain is dry, grab your chain lube and have one revolution of a steady stream of this on the chain. This should be allowed to soak up for a minute and after that, you can wipe it down.
Polishing: To give the bike an extra sparkle, you can use rubbing alcohol to remove the scuffs. As for the dings, you can use a bike polish to give your bike an extra sparkle.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Question: Which are the recommended products for cleaning my bike?
Answer: Some of the most essential things you’ll need include lots of water and a bucket/hose, a sponge/soft brush, gear brush, chain cleaning tool, degreaser, chain lube.
Question: Can I use WD40/GT85 to clean my bike?
Answer: These are amazing degreasers for thick grime, muck or dirt. You will, however, need a chain lubricant thereafter. You should also not get the degreaser near your rims or brakes.
Question: Can I clean my bike with baby wipes?
Answer: These are mild and ideal for a quick wash down of the frame between a full cleaning of your bike.
Question: How to clean an old bike?
Answer: Since rust is the main problem on an old bike, an easy DIY solution would be scrubbing the rust off using an aluminum foil and a soft drink or white vinegar. The amount of effort you’ll have to put depends on how rusty the bike is. Smaller bike parts can be soaked in either of these solvents.
Question: Which is the best way to get my bike chain clean?
Answer: A quick, easy and recommended way is with a chain cleaning tool. Alternatively, you could use a brush after which you can rub it down with soapy water.
With all that we’ve said, there’s a lot that needs to be done when cleaning your bike and if you follow all the steps outlined above, you should be good to go. After all, the cleaner your bike is, the longer it will last and the easier it is to notice any faults.