Bicycle Cleaning




Introduction: Bicycle Cleaning

I studied computer science at the University of Maryland. I have done computer projects for NASA...

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.

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 6: Vacume Bike

Use a wet dry vac to dry off the bike.

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.



    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest
    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest

    28 Discussions

    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.

    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!

    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.

    1 reply

    I agree. I did this once years ago. My crank made grinding feel and noise after. Not a good thing.

    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!

    using a pressure washer can force water into the bearings causing the grease to be pushed out and the bearings to rust

    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

    1 reply

    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.

    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

    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!

    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.

    2 replies

    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.

    What do yall think about a chain cleaner tool like this one:

    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...

    1 reply

    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.

    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!