How to Clean Your Chain.

Introduction: How to Clean Your Chain.


I'm going cycle touring in a couple of days and I can hear how gritty my chain is just by gently turning the cranks when the bike is upside down; It's a terrible noise, just like a baby crying or somebody eating biscuits during your favourite film.

The chain is often neglected and with its 270 moving parts it really shouldn't be.
Well, with the right tool it only takes a short time. 
After doing it once there is an even quicker way.

Step 1: Remove Your Chain.

You will need this tool; a chain-splitter.
These are available online or in bike shops for around £10.

Step 2: Clean Your Chain.

A solvent is needed to clean the grime off.

I pour a small amount of petrol into a 2 litre bottle, feed in the chain, put on the lid and shake for as long as I can.

Step 3: Oil Your Chain.

Remove the chain from the bottle and wipe thoroughly.

Place in a small container and douse in 3 in 1 oil ( or an expensive specialised chain oil.)

I also spray in a bit of TF2 lubricant  or similar because it thins the oil a little and contains Teflon.

The aim is to get the oil in the moving parts of the links.

Shake again and if you have time, leave it to soak for a while.

Step 4: Replace Your Chain.

Wipe your chain clean.

This is not about oil on the outside, that can come off; just like people or sandwiches, it's the inside that counts.

Thread your chain back to how it was originally.

Turn the splitter handle so that is is fully out; place your splitter the opposite way to how you had it before removal and turn clockwise until the rivet is sticking out equally on both sides.

If the link is a little stiff  then hold the links on either side and flex them from side to side about 6 times and this will free it.

Step 5: The Quicker Way of Removing a Chain.

These are power links. (they have various different names)

When you split your chain, you can remove that link altogether and replace it with a power link that simply comes a flick of the wrists, no tool needed.

Happy shaking.

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    11 years ago on Introduction

    nice instructable!
    i wanted to share some things i've been told about cleaning chains, though. i've learned that you should never use degreasing liquids, because they will remove the initial industrial inner lubrication of the chain, which you cannot renew by oiling your chain. therefore, it's better to remove just the superficial dirt, maybe also by using a cloth with a little petrol. another advantage is that you don't have to remove the chain using this method.
    i don't know if it's true for sure, but many bike shop owners and ambitioned bikers told me so.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Hello Ganjamanja,

    Thanks for your reply.

    How to clean and lubricate bicycle chains is a contentious issue and one that is hard to get people to agree on.

    I trust the Sheldon Browns bike pages

    As you have stated, he says that the factory lubrication is excellent, so to not apply solvents is correct.

    However,  after several hundred miles it will start to need oiling which will wash the remainder of the factory lubrication away.

    With my chain, it was so gritty inside that no amount of scrubbing the outside would have helped; it has also done hundreds of miles.

    After the process described in my instructable I went cycling around Spain for 450 miles and my chain was lovely and silent; At home I will always oil and wipe about once a fortnight.

    So, I don't know if this is the best way to clean and oil a chain but it seemed to work for me.

    Kind Regards