How to Clean A Bike

One of my favorite spring cleaning obsessions is taking out my bike and making it shine prior to my first ride of the season. I truly feel that it has helped keep my bike in top shape, and it just feels so good to know I’ve taken the time to deep clean it each spring!

Here are some tips on how to clean a bike and a bike chain!

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SUPPLIES

A majority of the supplies you’ll need are those that you already have in your home for basic cleaning anyway. You’ll need some shop rags, bottle brushes, a scrub brush or two, two buckets, a soft-bristled brush, a garden hose with a trigger spray head attachment, sponges, and some dish washing detergent.

For a more in depth clean, we also recommend buying a bike stand and some degreaser for cleaning your chain. Trust me, it makes all the difference.

Note that you should never use anything particularly abrasive on your bike’s frame, nor should you use high pressured water. Both can cause damage to your bike and lead to long term issues like rust and degraded bearings.

HOW TO CLEAN A BIKE CHAIN

Put your bike in its stand (if you have one) and prep your buckets for cleaning. Fill up both buckets with clean water. Squirt a big dollop of dish soap into one of the buckets and mix it up until it is nice and soapy. Next you will remove the wheels from your bike.

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First, use some degreaser on your bike’s chain, being sure to turn the cranks backward. This will ensure that every link gets degreased. Do this for about 5 minutes. Then, using your hose, gently rinse off the chain with clean water. Then turn the crank again for several rotations, rinsing a second time and turning it again.

Next, take one of your bottle brushes and dip it into your bucket of soapy water. Scrub the chainrings, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies of the teeth, rings, and pulleys. Rinse again with the hose set on a gentle spray setting, repeating the cleaning process as necessary.

You will then drip a little dish soap into the cassette, scrubbing with your bottle brush. Rinse with the hose and repeat the cleaning process if there needed.

HOW TO CLEAN A FRAME

Grab one of your soft sponges (remember, never use an abrasive sponge for this project!) and soap up the frame, cleaning from the front of the bike to the back. Saving up old dish sponges for this project is a great way to reuse and avoid paying for another sponge.

Next, rinse the frame with a gentle stream of water from the hose. If you have caliper brakes, be sure to clean the pads thoroughly. For this one project you may want to use an abrasive sided sponge, but remember to only use that rougher surface for the caliper brakes.

HOW TO CLEAN BIKE WHEELS

If you have a larger, soft-bristled brush for wheel cleaning, it will save you a lot of time. If not, don’t worry. A smaller brush will work just as well, it just won’t cover as much area. Get your brush soaped up with water from your soap bucket. Start at the valve of your wheel and clean all the way around.

Next, work on the spokes and hub of the wheels. This is where that larger brush size will come in handy. When finished, flip the wheel around and repeat the process on the opposite site. Repeat again on the other wheel. Rinse your wheels with your second bucket of clean water.

Finally, put your wheels back on to your bike, spinning the crank to make sure the drivetrain is still working as expected. Wipe down your entire bike with a clean, dry cloth or you can let it air dry in a sunny spot in the yard. This will help ensure that no rust occurs. The very last step is to lube up your chain!

FINAL TIPS

This is also a great opportunity to get your kids in the habit of cleaning their bikes, too! If your child has a basket attached to the bike, it’s a good time to clean and sanitize that area, removing any debris or bugs that have made their way in since the last time it was ridden.