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Repair Help and Education

Bike Washing and Cleaning

Useful Tools and Supplies

This article will discuss bicycle washing. Cleaning the bicycle makes it look great, last longer, and improves performance.  Washing a bike is a messy job. Begin by changing to clothes that fit the job, and putting on an apron such as the SA-1 or SA-3. Next, find a work area that is appropriate. Gather together all the materials for cleaning. See list above.

Gather supplies before being the work.

Fill the buckets with hot water. Just like when washing dishes, warm water cleans better. Use a biodegradable dishwashing liquid or similar soap, and mix it in one of the buckets.

Add soap to water and mix.

If the bike is to be clamped, scrub inside the jaws holding the bike. Also wash area you will be clamping. The jaws will not scratch, but if there is dirt between the jaw and the paint, it may mar the finish.

Clean inside jaws   Clean area clamped


Begin by cleaning the dirtiest items first, which is typically the chain and drive train. Use a chain cleaner such as the Park Tool CM-5.2 Cyclone Chain Scrubber.


Use the CM-5 to clean the chain.

The PRS-20 and PRS-21 Repair Stands offer an option for holding the chain. Remove the rear wheel and reverse the frame on the stand. The axle will hold the chain for cleaning.

PRS-21 or PRS-20 holds the chain for cleaning.

Use the GSC-1 brush to clean the derailleur pulley wheel, derailleur cage, and chainrings. Use solvent, but do not drip solvent into hub or bottom bracket bearings.

Clean greasy items with brush and solvent.

Clean all chainrings with GSC-1.

After scrubbing the chain with the CM-5, empty the CM-5 and fill it with soapy water. Using two different types of solvents, a degreaser and a soap, is very effective in cleaning the chain and removing grit.

Use soapy water to scrub chain after using a solvent.

Wrap a rag or sponge around the chain while you spin it.


Rinse the chain with water.

If the wheels and rear gears are especially dirty, it is best to pull them from the bike. Scrape out packed in grass, dirt, and grime from between the gears with the GSC-1.

Use gear comb
Clean between the teeth by scrapping with a "gear comb."


Lean the wheel so the cogs are facing the ground to minimize solvent dripping into bearing as you scrub the cogs with solvent.



With the wheel either in or out of the bike, use the pointed brush to clean the hub between the flanges and outside flanges. .

Use the sponge brush to get between spoke nipples of the rim.

Clean the frame and the bike components. Use the sponge with soapy water to clean the tubing. Use the tapered detail brush to clean hard to reach places such as behind the bottom bracket, derailleur and even under the saddle.


Don't be shy with the sponge and soapy water.


Use brush to clean all components.


Bottle brush cleans the hard-to-get to places.   


If you are using a hose, use only low pressure with a wide spray. Let the water drip down from above. A water bottle may also be used for rinsing. NOTE: Mark the water bottle as unusable, as it may become contaminated with soap.


Rinse bike from top down.

Allow the bike to dry after rinsing. Use compressed air if available, but do not blast bearings directly. Use a light lubricant such as CL-1 on the chain, pulley wheels, cables, and pivots points. After the bike is washed, take the time to rinse off the BCB-4.2 brushes and clean the repair stand.