Introduction: Cleaning Your Bike

Picture of Cleaning Your Bike

After a while of riding your bike, you probably notice how dirty it can get.

This instructable will show you how to clean your bike safely, without rusting.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

These area the basic materials you will need for cleaning your bike.

- Leaf blower (optional)

- rags (old, clean socks and shirts work well)

- WD-40 or any good oil

- brake parts cleaner (optional)

- hose (with water in in it)

- grease

Step 2: Washing

Picture of Washing

Now it's time to spray your bike off. Be sure to spray every part off. If your seat is old and falling apart, you might not want to spray it. This is a list of the following places you might want to clean.

- Chain

- sprockets

- under side

- rims, if rim brakes

- disks, if disk brakes

- pretty much everything

Just blast away. DON'T USE A POWER SPRAYER. You might peel the paint off.
Also, the grease on the chain picks up a lot of dust and dirt, so be sure to spray it off.

Step 3: Drying

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Now that you gave your bike a nice shower, my guess is that it's wet.

Start the leaf blower, and blow as much water of the bike as you can. Be sure to include the chain, sprockets, and anything that contains moving parts. Also, if your bike has scratches on it, be sure to remove any water from around it. Other wise, it may start to rust.

If you don't have a blower, than you can use a rag. Make sure the rag has no sand or dirt in it, or you will scratch the bike up.

Step 4: Oiling

Picture of Oiling

Now that it is dry, it's time to oil it. Oil places that have moving parts in them.
Use grease on:

- chain

- sprockets

- shifting gears (on the back of the bike)

- peddle bar axle

- wheel axles

Use WD-40 for:

- shifter box

- Brake handle axle

- do not oil your brakes, disks, or rims. Otherwise, you lose some of your braking power.

- peddles

The oil helps make less friction, like micro ball bearings. WD-40 stands for water displacement, and the 40 is because the person who invented it, perfected it by the 40th time

Step 5: More Cleaning

Picture of More Cleaning

Just in case the the oil got on the disk or rim, you might want to clean it with brake parts cleaner.

Spray on the disk or rim, and wash of with the rag. Be sure not to get any of the cleaner on the paint; it might melt it away.

Step 6: Done

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Now you can ride a nice clean and oiled bike.

Have fun!


and good luck

creator 1

Step 7:

guys, i get the picture that you think wd is bad for a chain, so there is no reason to keep telling me that.  my dad is a millwright, and he works with machinery with chains and other stuff all the time.  he's been doing it for over 30 years.  and we've been oiling our bike with wd, and  never had a problem!


voenie (author)2013-05-02

WD40 is not a good lubricant for sensitive bike chains. Heavy, slow running chains for machinery could be lubed with WD40, but the super-light, super-fast running chain on your bike needs a better lubricant.
The chain on higher-end bikes are really thin and can be flexed to the sides for shifting gears. They are not to be compared with machinery chains.
Buy oil which is likely cheaper than WD40, save money on your lubricant & on not having to replace your parts as much.

Malhecho (author)2011-11-07

yeah i use brake cleaner also. i was using 3 in one as my oil but it gets really dirty really fast. so i might switch to white lighting good for desert enviroment.

susumilo (author)2010-01-15

yes, wd 40 isn't good for bearing parts such as hub-freehub-chain-bottom bracket and headset..silicone lube will be great

garrys newman (author)2009-12-25

wd40 as problems, it remove any greasse  so i sugest silicon lube

eatin ramen (author)2009-05-31

use rags! don't burn gasoline to dry off your earth saving machine

ricardjorg (author)eatin ramen2009-08-22

everytime i get home after using my bike, i shower it with the hose and let it dry overnight and the next morning i do the oiling =D
never had a problem with it

theburn7 (author)eatin ramen2009-07-13

Thats the way we do it in america, live with it

Chucky Shamrok (author)2009-08-10

Another Quick Remark, Don't spray the chain either. It can take the oil off the chain and cause it to rust faster.

greysplash (author)2009-07-28

Agreed... WD-40 is terrible for bikes, it removes what lube is already on the drivetrain and then quickly dissipates. Only use lube and grease that is specifically formulated for bikes.

spearhead224 (author)2009-07-26

Rubbing alcohol also works. I use denatured alcohol to clean my brakes. I think I might try brake cleaner though.

Aar000n3y (author)2009-05-15

I've heard people saying a power sprayer will take off the paint on bikes before, but I've cleaned more than 20 bikes using a power sprayer and no problems with paint coming off. Most of those bikes were over 20 years old, and one was over 50 years old. As long as you don't have a really powerful sprayer it should be fine - even if you do you can just turn it down a bit. Power sprayers work great for bike cleaning Also, WD-40 is not a chain oil. You can use it as a light lubricant like you suggested with other parts, but not for constantly moving parts like the chain, the axles, and the bottom bracket. After opening a wheel hub after spraying WD-40 on the axle by accident, all of the lubricant inside was watered down and I had to overhaul the hub again. I like the idea of using brake cleaner though - hadn't thought about that before. Might have to try it some time

theburn7 (author)Aar000n3y2009-07-17

OMG i didnt think of power sprayers! I just used it the other day, but it removed paint from my 1 coat paint job, and not on the 3 coat, and a quick and easy job to get dirt off after a ride in the mud and dirt, with awesome results, I recommend it

creator 1 (author)Aar000n3y2009-05-15

I guy at my bike store said wd was fine for a chain. I have grease I can use otherwise. I was also using the wd for removing the water from my chain. If you raely think I should change my instructable, I will when I have more time.

saintstoffel (author)creator 12009-05-22

You should stop going to that bike shop. WD is great for breaking up rusted or stuck parts, but should never be used as a lubricant on a bicycle. It may cost a little more, but chain oil like Phil's Tenacious or others is better suited for the job.

theburn7 (author)saintstoffel2009-07-13

That WD 40 Thing is a myth

TomassozzomaT (author)2009-05-18

Hey, one quick remark - should you want your bearings live longer... DO NOT spray the bike. Use a free flowing stream of water to rinse dirt off parts, but do not direct a pray of water on the bottom bracket or axles, deraileur etc. They're supposed to be lubricated by grease, not water-dirt mixture. So rinse them, wipe them, rinse again, use a chain washing tool or wash it using a toothbrush and gasoline.

creator 1 (author)TomassozzomaT2009-05-25


MajikMan (author)2009-05-17

It's really not a good idea to use grease on a chain, either. Chains need a much lighter lube - there's no way that any grease is going to be worked into the parts of the chain that need lube the most. Furthermore, grease on any of the exterior parts of the bike will only serve to attract and hold dirt, sand, etc., and gives it a path into the bearings.

creator 1 (author)MajikMan2009-05-17

That's why I put to use WD-40 at first, and people told my it was a bad oil. My dad has been a mechanic for over 20 years, and he told me not to use grease for the same reason. He also said that wd would work fine, because the chain is made up literally of tiny axles, and they only move a little every time it goes over a gear. He said it only needed a light oil. I'll try to change my instructabe asap. Thanks for the advice. ><> creator 1

Aar000n3y (author)creator 12009-05-17

chain oil not only lubes the pins on each chain link, but protects the chain from rusting, and allows the chain to slide onto each gear smoothly

mightysinetheta (author)2009-05-16

Hi creator- Nice instuctable overall, I'm stoked on your use of pictures and your instructions are pretty clear. I just wanted to second what the commenters above have been saying about WD-40. It's a very light lubricant, so it will dilute or remove the greases and oils that are good for your bike, then evaporate. Of course, WD-40 is better than not lubricating, but many parts, such as the hubs, headset and bottom bracket are packed with grease, and don't need maintenance too frequently. A good alternative to the specialty bike lubes for the chain is Triflow, which is a good light oil that is relatively cheap and available everywhere. I believe it is also ok for the seals on shock absorbers. One other thing, which I feel that many will disagree with, is that you should never ever hose down a bike, and certainly never ever shoot it with a pressure washer. Water is your bikes enemy, and pressure washers in particular can drive water past the seals in your moving parts. Even a hose can introduce water into your frame, which can then corrode over time. (This is more of an issue with steel bikes than aluminum.) I prefer to use a wet rag and some simple green to wipe down the frame and other components, and then remove the chain and soak it in a good solvent while I clean the rest of the drive train with a rag and brush. Perhaps I'm a bit obsessive about these things though. :P I do enjoy your use of the leaf blower though, that kinda made my day.

When I use the water, I hold it at a distance just so that I don't "force" water into areas you don't want it. For the picture, you can only be so far if you try to take a picture in one hand, and a hose in the other. Also, the reason I used wd for most of the oiling, was to displace any water that could have leaked to far. I have already removed the part about wd and the chain, and I will add a picture on greasing it.

monterto (author)2009-05-15

you will ruin your bike if you lube it with WD-40. Bikes need a thicker lube for the moving parts (drivetrain) and a heavy grease for the bearings etc. etc. Your LBS (local bike shop) will have the lube you need for your chain and you can get the other grease at CanadianTire or other automotive store.

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