Bike Washing and Cleaning

This article will discuss how to wash a bike, including the frame, drivetrain and wheels. Cleaning the bicycle makes it look great, last longer, and improves performance.


Getting Started

What Tools do I need?
  • Bicycle Cleaning Brush Set: BCB-4.2
  • Repair Stand, holds bike secure for easy work.
  • CM-5.2 Cyclone Chain Scrubber
  • Degreasing solvent: CB-4 Bio ChainBrite
  • Chain Lubricant: CL-1 Synthetic Blend Chain Lube
  • Rags and sponges
  • Buckets: at least 2
  • Soap: a quality dish washing soap is acceptable
  • Water hose (optional)

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.

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-5.2 to clean the chain

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-5.2, empty the CM-5.2 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.

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 useful 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 brushes and clean the repair stand.