When you return home from a tough old slog over the hills and dales, often the last thing you want to do when you get in is clean your bike.
However, without regular cleaning, the drivetrain will become mucky, parts can begin to corrode, and you’re a lot more likely to find you’re struggling with seized components, un-cooperative gears and squeaky brakes.
How to clean your bike: step by step guide
1. Rinse the frame down
Start by giving the frame a basic wipe. Use a sponge and a bucket of water – don’t be tempted to blast it with a pressure washer as this will force water into the bearings.
Spray the bike with a bike cleaning product, and leave it for a couple of minutes – see the back of the bottle for the optimum length of time.
Then, with more clean water, use a soft bristled brush to give the bike a scrub.
Don’t ever be tempted to substitute the bike cleaning product and soft brush with washing up liquid and a kitchen sponge – this can result in a scratched or even colour faded frame.
2. Clean the rims and brake pads
Give the rims on your wheels a good wash and wipe, and (if you’re using rim, not disc, brakes) wipe the pads to make sure there’s no crud on there that could erode the braking surface.
3. Use degreaser on the cassette and chain
Spray more degreaser over the chain and cassette – and give them a scrub. Using a gear brush really helps you to get into the cassette cogs.
If the chain still looks grimy, use a chain cleaner – simply fill the unit with a degreaser, snap it on and rotate the pedal backwards to feed the chain through. Dispose of the degreaser safely when you’re done.
4. Use degreaser on the derailleurs and chainset
Next, spray the deraillieurs and chainset with a degreasing agent and give them a good (but gentle) scrub. It may be easier to take the chain off the chainring to do this.
5. Rinse the frame, dry and lube the chain
Rinse the soap suds off the bike, dry the chain with an old rag and apply chain lube to the chain and the pivot points on the derailleurs
Bike cleaning FAQ:
What products do I need to clean my bike?
- Bucket – avoid a hose or jet wash
- Gear brush: this has bristles on one end and a serrated plastic on the other, for reaching between the cogs
- Chain cleaning tool if the chain is very dirty
- Bike cleaner, degreaser and chain lube
- Sponge or soft bristled brush (no kitchen scourers!)
How do I clean the chain on my bike?
As outlined in the ten steps above, the chain needs to be cleaned with a good degreaser. Spray or wipe it on, leave it to soak in, and then wipe off with a rag. Once you’re happy that the chain is clean you can dry it with a clean rag and apply a thin layer of chain lube. Don’t forget to give the same treatment to the chainrings and cassette!
How do I prevent the chain on my bike from rusting?
Dry it down properly after its wash, and apply chain lube. This will prevent rust from building up and will also keep the chain running smoothly.
Why should I clean my bike?
Cleaning your bike regularly will help keep it running smoothly, and it also gives you a chance to give the frame and components a quick once over, giving you a much greater chance of spotting potential problems (such as a crack in the frame) before they develop.
Plus, as the video proves, it takes less than seven minutes (even if you stop to explain every step!)
Can I use WD40/GT85 to clean my bike?
WD40 and GT85 are both degreasers. They will dislodge thick muck, grime and dirt – so it’s good to use when you’ve got a lot of built up grease on your chain and gears, or a stuck part that’s become rusted. It will get everything looking very shiny. It isn’t a lubricant – so you do need to use a chain lube after use and you shouldn’t get them near your rims or brakes.
Can I use a pressure washer or hose to clean my bike?
You can – but it’s really not a good idea. The jet will get dirt off the bike, but it’ll also push water into the bearings and cause them to age more quickly.
Can I clean my bike with baby wipes?
Baby wipes are very mild and therefore won’t do your bike any harm.