Instructables
Completely cleaning a bicycle is either expensive and time consuming or knowledge intensive. Here is a cheap and fast method for cleaning your bike.

This method allows you to clean the frame, gears, derailleurs, chain and wheels without taking parts off the bike.
 
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Step 1: Collect tools

You will need a degreaser (I use shout the laundry cleaner), a power washer, oil (do not use wd40) and a wet dry vac.

Step 2: Really dirty bike

If the bike is really dirty power wash it first. Please, be careful that you don't use a very tight/powerful setting. You want to avoid ripping the paint off of the bike.

Step 3: Fairly ditry bike

Spray the degreaser on the parts of the bike that are dirity. I like to use Shout! becuase it is fairly viscous and will not easily drip off the bike.

Step 4: Pressure wash bike

After waiting about ten minutes user the presure washer on the bike. You should be able to get into the parts that you can't with your fingers.

Step 5: Check for cleanleness

If the bike is not clean enough for you go back to step two. If it is go to next step.

Step 7: Oil chain and derailleurs

Oil the chain and both deraillerus. After you have oiled the chain take a rag and wipe off chain.

Step 8: Ride bike

Take your bike for a nice ride.
blbaszis5 months ago

Looks like you have it covered, but a lot of local bike shops say not to use a pressure washer or even a garden hose as the water can get into the wheel bearings, and bottom bracket bearings and do some nasty damage. I use a discarded sprayer bottle with laundry detergent mixed 50/50 with water. I f you do use a garden hose stay about 10 feet away from the bike and use a fine mist.

Snotflower6 months ago

When carefully hand-cleaning your bicycle please use green products like those from The Green Oil Company!!!! Detergents are bad for the environment. Please oil your chain with a PTFE free product- this is a nasty substance that ends up in the food chain and slowly poisons everything from the bottom up. Happy cycling!

speedy71 year ago
Never, ever use power wash to wash the bike!
andikam is right. Do not power wash your bike as some bearings (like those around the derailleurs, etc.) are not made to handle that kind of water pressure. They will start to leak water into them and lead to corrosion. A simple sponge and maybe a soft bristled brush (like a toothbrush) combined with soapy water (Dawn is great) are all that is needed.
i highly suggest NOT to use a pressure washer at all, especially if the bike is above 300 bucks. Your bike has numerous rotating parts, therefore numerous bearings (headset, cranks, wheels). Using pressurized water can force grit into the bearings, therefore ruining your good stuff over a period of time. if really dirty, simply get a bucket of warm water, soap isn't even necessary, and a rag to just wash it off.
I agree. I did this once years ago. My crank made grinding feel and noise after. Not a good thing.
andikam5 years ago
Oh my god please don't power hose your bike as instructed here. It can cause serious damage for anyone that is unsure about what they are doing. Use soap water instead or wait for mud to dry and then simple cycle around on the road for a bit and the main bulk will fall off. I repeat don't power hose unless you know exactly what you are doing!
sharlston5 years ago
using a pressure washer can force water into the bearings causing the grease to be pushed out and the bearings to rust
britman7 years ago
as soon as i saw the pressure washer i thought how bad this is for the bike all you really need is a bucket and a sponge and use the same stuff you wash your car with and not dishwashing soap thats bad too but then again if you like repacking with new grease every time you wash go ahead
It only takes 20 secs, srsly with a pressure washer, and of course it sounds like you havent used one before. Pressure washers are machines that pressurise water and spit it out at high speeds, and ususally adjustable speeds. Don't shoot where the bearings are, and it is all good.
I would just wipe the mud off and maybe hose down, but i do a thourough cleaning every month or so.
csnyder6 years ago
I only use the pressure washer to clean up a dirty bike before COMPLETE dissassembly. You don't want water and dirt driven into bearings, and even sealed bearings on bikes are not well enough sealed to use a pressure washer
zom b6 years ago
i'll just agree with the rest of the people who have said using a pressure washer on a bicycle is not a good idea, and generally unnecessary. maintenance, elbow grease and a little patience is far better than blasting your bike with high pressure water!
rooplaw6 years ago
The only problem with this is that the power washer can blow degreaser into the seals and degrease your bearings. Just need to be sure to not spray the bottom bracket, swingarm (mtn. bike), and axles or freehubs.
Even something as high-pressured as a garden hose with a nozzle can drive debris and particulate matter into sealed bearings and cause everything from slightly gritty handling to serious component corrosion. My team manager told us to douse our bikes with water from a bucket and use time, elbow grease, and eco-friendly degreaser to clean the frame and components.
Agreed, jets of water can often do more harm than good. logic as follows: -If you know this, you'd be the kind to clean your bike meticulously in the proper way, so you don't really need a pressure washer. -If you're thinking of using a pressure washer, you wanted something quick and easy and are probably not the type that will know how to fix a serious problem that will stem from this.
where do i buy elbow grease? jkjk
Digi7 years ago
What do yall think about a chain cleaner tool like this one:

http://www.finishlineusa.com/products/chain-cleaner.htm

I use a similar one along with orange degreaser. I can run that sucker through 20 different cycles (no pun intended) of about 10 revolutions each cycle, and there is junk still coming out of the chain. It seems like it might be getting it TOO clean. Afterwards I run it through a couple cycles of water (to clean out the degreaser), get as much water out after, and then lube the chain. Have yall heard anything bad about using a chain cleaning tool of this sort? This is on my MTB by the way...
jongscx Digi7 years ago
yeah, basically, that's just a way of automating the "getting-intimately-acquainted-with-your-bike-and-a-toothbrush" method of cleaning. I've used it before. clipped it on and had the bike in a stand while I turned the pedal slowly with one hand and dripped cleaner with the other. It was a "rescued" bike, so it had all sorts of nastiness on it, rust and just regular gunk... got rid of most of it, so it resembled something safe and presentable.
ampdavolts7 years ago
GoJo white creme hand cleaner: It is soft white soap in an excess of water, plus a bit of low-odor mineral spirits (which is a partial water repellant). -It's safe for hands, non toxic, been around a hundred years. -Soft soap is an excellent degreaser. -Soft soap is a lubricant, largely preventing grit from scratching paintwork -It leaves a beautiful rich shine -it cleans all manner of dirt and oil from all kinds of surfaces, safely -it de-smudges your stainless refrigerator -it de-greases your bike chain Get one of those soft "u" shaped brushes from the auto parts store -dip the brush in GoJo (white creme variety only--not pumice, not "orange action" -Apply to rims, spokes, paintwork, etc. -Slop it on the chain too, and after brushing everything else, attack the gritty chain -Air dry the bike in the breeze of an electric fan--or in the hot sun NOTE: almost all bike frames and parts take on water, "sealed" or not. So any kind of washing is liable to put some water into bearing points. This is why savvy people put a zerk fitting to the bottom bracket, to hubs, and pump in waterproof synthetic grease "Green Grease" is a fine brand. And such a bike and be put into water with no ill effects, just rinse if it was salt water. GoJo (and any identical competing brand) is the most useful all purpose cleaner-- it will make garage sale finds look like new It will make old tired finishes revive in appearance. Use the brush, GoJo and wipe furniture items clean with paper towels; no need to rinse. I've used this stuff for thirty years to clean everything from interior paint, marble, butcherblock (it sucks dirt right out of the pores). GoJo costs a buck per pound tub in the auto parts stores here. I've never seen anyone else extoll its virtues--so i tell about GoJo whenever the topic of cleaning comes up. I no longer use any other household cleaner very much. Dawn is still the best dish detergent. But for de-greasing that grungy kitchen sink, GoJo and a green pad can't be beat. You can do a lot with GoJo. But now you know that!
I forgot to say, if the item can be rinsed with water (the bike), then fine, that's the easiest. But if you can't rinse, or don't want to add water to the item (woodwork), no need to rinse, just wipe off the dirt and let the remainder remain. A slick, glossy surface will result on smooth items, and a satin gloss on satin items, etc. BTW, anyone ever come across an antique radio, for instance--of Bakelite? Never use any strong (caustic) cleaner. No 409--you'd strip the gloss. GoJo is safe for everthing. I'm a fan of cheap microfiber cloths too. Auto parts stores have the GoJo, the inexpensive brush, the cheap cloths. Good luck, and write me if you disagree or find fault with my advices? Thanks, Reid
Y'all's concerns about vulnerable cup-and-cone wheel bearings and bottom bracket bearings can be somewhat avoided by wrapping rag scraps around the bike's "sensitive, cup-and-cone parts." By the way, the old style cup-and-cone spindles are no longer being made, so we will all be using cartridge units soon enough, and these offer better protection. Still, I would 'not use this method. I recommend using a bucket of water, several varieties of brushes, a rag, and Dawn. The bike can be dried using compressed air, if you have a compressor and keep the psi low and the nozzle several inches away (otherwise you may be kissing some paint bye-bye, especially if you have repainted the bike). Otherwise just use a towel. There is very little that rusts on bikes these days save a few nuts and bolts--and a trip to the hardware store for some stainless steel can solve that problem.
adamlorenz7 years ago
shop rat here... please, please, please, continue to power wash your bikes [*cough* sarcasm] it is when people do this that the next thought is, why does my bike look so good yet sound so bad???
- 409, or some sort of soap and water combo in a spray bottle for cleaner...
- citrus degreaser
- apply your favorite lube [hopefully some sort of teflon-based, waxed-based, heck, even soil-based]
- heck you could even use some window cleaner on the rims to help deep clean the braking surface.

and as i believe guns-n-roses said it best...
'have a little patience'

Heather keeps her bicycle squeaky clean!

:]

x
uh oh8 years ago
Why is the bike you're riding different from the one you cleaned? Please don't don't tell me you pressure washed that sweet looking road bike
jordan.day8 years ago
I have to agree with dan here -- using a pressue washer on a bike is bad news. The sort of person who would use this method is also the sort of person that (I'm guessing) doesn't have the inclination to re-grease their hubs or, in the case of older or lower-end bikes, their non-sealed cartridge bottom bracket. Just saying "don't use tight focus" isn't enough warning, either -- even using your standard garden hose can cause damage in the long run.
dan8 years ago
hmm, i'm a bit hesitant to use a pressure washer on a bike because it will get water into all the sealed bearings (bottom bracket, headset, hubs)
tomfolkes (author)  dan8 years ago
If you are not careful you can even rip the paint off the bike. If you are careful you will find that you can clean parts like the chain which are very hard to clean other wise. I don't advise using a powerful washer on tight focus.