Giving Your Bike Its Weekly Clean and Tidy.




About: A Northern Ireland based maker with a propensity to cause trouble and freshly constructed family.

A great thing to do on a sunny Sunday afternoon after a good bike ride, maybe beforehand, then you'll have something to do after that aswell.

This instructable will cover:

- Cleaning your bike up without using a hose or anything likely to force water in to bearings.
- Cleaning and degreasing the sprockets.
- A little bit of De rusting on the likes of quick releases and small chrome components.
- Cleaning rims
- Some basic checks you should do at least weekly.

Step 1: Stuff You'll Need...

You will need:

- A few rags, here I used a few disposable wet wupes that had been left out and dried up...
- A can of WD40 or similar degreasing compound.
- A can of lubricating oil for bikes or similar, I like 3in1 it's great though perhaps a bit viscous.
- A wire brush
- An hour at most but most likely half an hour

Step 2: Cleaning Down the Frame.

This is very simple, unless it's truly caked in mud you'll need little other than one of the rags and some water.

Wipe down the frame all over just a quick sweep the first time.

Now come back down to the rear and begin removing the mud and dirt that gets flicked in to the frame here, at the bottom where the forks branch off take a little stick or something and poke and dirt out from inside the bolt holes.

You can plug any unused bolt holes with the use of an old valve cap, presta ones alread fit, shrader caps need a little whittling, but this solves the worries of there being dirt and stuff inside the frame, possibly helping cause unseen rust problems (For you maybe, my frame's aluminium alloy which is light but I'm probably going to kill it sooner or later...)

Make sure to get both sides of the bike and any tricky bits you can now...

Step 3: Cleaning Up the Rims.

This is fairly easy though a little monotonous.

Start with the spokes, take your rag and pinch it around the spoke and wipe up and down. Do one side of the spokes at a time, it's a lot easier than trying to get at both sides in one go.

For the rim outer, take the rag and slide it in and out of all the gaps between spokes, go back over wiping around the bottom of each spoke.

It's a bit boring but worth it, dirt can cause and hide rust and other issues, plus it just looks crappy.

Step 4: The Rear Sprocket Set.

Time to get our hands dirty.

Take the rear wheel off the bike.

Lay the wheel down flat with the sprocket set and blast it with WD40.

Leave it for a little minute.

Take another rag, one for dirt and one for oil, keeps the frame oil free and keeps the gears from not being cleaned.

Slide the rag in between the top and second sprocket, take your hands and make a sawing motion side to side, the freewheel hub does the rest of the work for us. Work your way down through all of the gears. After that blast it out again with WD40 and repeat the process.

By now the the sprocket set should look perfect. Set the back wheel aside for now, we'll lubricate it later.

Step 5: The Derailleurs and Front Sprockets.

Start with the rear Dérailleur take the oily rag and pinch it around the bottom of the guide sprockets, pull the chain through the sprocket to remove the buildup of grime. Repeat for the other guide sprocket and clean the dérailleur frame, wipe any dirt off the springs and use the third rag to rub a little oil on to them.

For the front sprocket set, take the chain off the sprockets and rest it on the bottom bearing shell. Spray with WD40 and use the same process to clean the sprockets except use the cranks to move the sprockets round.

For the front dérailleur again just tidy up and dirt and lubricate springs etc, this keeps them from rusting.

For the chain I tend to clean it either with an old nailbrush or by taking a rag and running the chain through it after socking with WD40.

Once you've got everything cleaned up down there check your brake pads while the wheel's off the bike, also clean any spots you missed in there when doing the frame.

Step 6: Little Bits of Surface Rust and Other Spots You May Have Missed.

This is where the wire brush comes in to play.

Mostly one little chromed components such as the quick releases and on the brakes.

To take the rust take out either some steel wool or a wire brush, simply brush the rust away, scrubbing it all off, now take the cleaner of the oily rags and give the bits a rub with it, this just gives a little extra protection against rusting.

Take the seat off your bike, clean underneath and remove any rust from the seat rails.

Check the seat tube for greasing etc. Make sure the grease is still good and hasn't dried out, if it has clean the tube and reapply grease to it.

Check your pedals for string becoming wraped around them, this is usually from your clothes but once some is on it makes it easier to lose the rest of the trousers...

To remove the string simply unravel it in stage and pick at it to get new threads to pull on.

It will always unravel the opposite direction to the way the crank turns when pedalling, this rule applies no matter what way up the bike is.

Step 7: Lubricating the Components.

Put everything back together first of all but don't flip the bike up the right way yet.

Take your oil, not WD40 and drip it directly into the chain while turning the crank with your free hand, while turning the crank slowly dribble oil into the rest of the sprockets and turn for a little longer.

Flip the bike up the right way, lubricate all your cables by starting at the highest point (handlebars) and dripping oil inside the casings every time they start again, pull the brakes back and forth a few times and put the dérailleurs through every gear to spread the oil, take the oily rag and rub the exposed cables to prevent any corrosion.

Step 8: Final Adjustments.

Once you've finished sorting your bike out it's time to do any adjustments needed.

Take a ride up and down the street checking every gear.

Test your brakes out thoroughly and adjust as necessary.

For the front you want to be able to lock the wheel in to an endo if needed and have progessive control over it.

For the rear brake you want to be able to lock the wheel (if you can't they're far too loose) and have a bit of progressive control, granted it's mostly going to lock under any force but having a little travel for control isn't a bad thing.

Make sure your dérailleurs are fully adjusted, Here's a great video by Bicycle tutor.

Check your tyre pressure, both by gauge and what feels good, a few PSI makes all the difference, I decided to up mine a little, the tyres were too soft, they were perfect when it was a little wetter but now the rain doesn't fall hard enough to bother them, also they now wear slower and allow more top speed...

Step 9: Wash Your Hands You Mucky Pup!

Cleaning up your hands will call for a nailbrush and either some proper commercial hand cleaner or something like fairy liquid, washing up soap that is good for degreasing is good for this purpose.

Once clean relax and enjoy your clean bike.

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    61 Discussions


    3 years ago

    can you use wd-40 for the chain part or not


    5 years ago on Introduction

    cleaning oily gunk from your hands is actuall pretty easy :) get your hands wet, then put powdered laundry soap on them. Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary, then wash your hands with normal soap, if you can be bothered
    The powder works as a very mild abrasive to the dirt, the fact that it's a deterget means it takes off the oil and it "soaks up" the muck


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nice 'structable, thanks.

    Just wondering. How well does WD-40 remove wax-based/dry chain lubes? Anyone know?

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Introduction

    as a bike mechanic we NEVER use WD40. It is a water based substance that will cause your bike to rust. Instead use something oil based such as GT85 of which is a specialist bicycle oil containing PTFE - a really lubey substance. It will do the same job as WD40 but without making it rust, it will also lubricate the bike leaving no use for 3 in 1 oil. People bring there bike in to get repaired all to often with rusted chains and when I ask them what they have been using on there bike 9 times out of 10 it is WD40. Don't be one of them :)

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    WD-40 stands for water displacing spray. It is not water based, by definition. It is mainly used for cleaning or degreasing as the poster said but its intended design function is getting rid of water from componants. GT85 is fine but you can buy specialist chain lubricant from most decent hardware shops for that purpose. I personally wouldn't use anything other than chain grease on chains.
    I would recommend that you use wd40 or similar to clean (and free off any siezed componants) and then immediatly use the correct type of lubricating grease for that componant.
    If you're in the UK DON'T go to Halfords as they don't sell the correct products and the people in the store have VERY limited knowledge of bikes.

    Happy cleaning!! :)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    WD40 is a degreaser, it is fine to use as long as you properly clean and re-grease whatever it if you used it on.


    7 years ago on Step 2

    I usually always give my bike a quick 15 minute "maintenance" after I ride... My neighborhodd always seems to have construction going on so dust always gets everywhere.

    1 reply

    I ride out in the country because that's where i live so it's mostly gravel roads and i have not cleaned my bike for 2 years and its still working great!


    7 years ago on Step 4

    its better to use the WD40 AND a toothbrush!

    Redgerrthe stig06

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Because a bike is a bike and if it gets you from pace A to place B it really dosnt matter.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Hey,great instructable,i recently refurbished my old mountain bike thats been left outside for a few years,i didnt use 3 in 1,i used silicone spray its great for derailers and cables just give a quick shot,its fairly water resistant,for the chain i used specific chain oil from halfords

    bad ass pope

    9 years ago on Introduction

    You may already know this, but you shouldn't really wash your hands with washing up liquid (unless it's the specifically hand-friendly kind!). It breaks down the cells in the surface of your skin or something like that; I can't remember the details, but I know it's not good...

    2 replies

    It's the best way to remove the oil and grease other than proper handwashes, after washing your hands with washing up liquid washing them again with normal soap seems to make a difference...


    10 years ago on Introduction

    If the chain and stuff like that isn't clean would a bike make worrisome noises that sound like it's going to break whenever I ride it? Because my friend's bike does that nearly every time I ride it and it totally sounds like it'll break...