Chain Cleaning with a Park Tool Chain Scrubber

Chain cleaning is an essential part of bike maintenance. It extends the life of your whole drivetrain and greatly improves shifting and overall drivetrain function. This repair help article will walk you through each step of cleaning and lubing a drivetrain.


Preliminary Info

What Tools do I need?

The first tip to getting a clean chain is to use a degreaser. Bicycle specific degreaser is formulated to cut through the thick build-up of grime and oil usually found on most bicycle chains.

Cleaning your bike’s drivetrain can be a messy process that involves a lot of prep and a lot of work. Tools like the CM-5.3 and CM-25 can significantly streamline the work and do better job of scrubbing your chain as well.

If you are outside, consider spraying your work surface with water before getting started to make grease and contaminants easier to clean-up after you’re done.


Chain Cleaning Process

First check your chain for wear using a chain wear indicator like the CC-3.2. If your chain isn’t worn beyond it’s service life, you can continue with the cleaning process. If your chain is worn beyond it’s service life, skip the hassle of cleaning and start fresh with new clean chain!

Next, put your bike in a repair stand make sure the chain is parallel to the ground for easy access to all parts of the chain, then shift to the smallest cog and front chainring. If you are using a dummy hub, remove your rear wheel and install the dummy hub. A dummy hub like the DH-1 is recommended but not required as it will add chain slack and keep the loosened contaminants away from the wheel and drivetrain components.

Next, attach the chain cleaner to the lower section of chain while making sure that the chain fully seats into the brushes of your chain cleaner.

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Fully seat chain into brushes

Fill the chain cleaner with solvent to the fill line marked on the body of the CM-5.2 or CM-25.

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Fill chain scrubber to line

Once your chain cleaner is filled with solvent, begin turning the cranks of your bicycle backwards for at least thirty revolutions.

Once you have cycled thirty revolutions, remove your chain cleaning device and pour the solvent into a separate container.

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Pour out dirty solvent

Once the contaminants have settled to the bottom of the container, the solvent can be reused. Always check with local authorities for information on how to dispose of your used solvents. Rinse out your chain cleaner and refill it with soapy water the repeat the process of installation and cycle your chain through the chain cleaner until your chain is thoroughly rinsed. While you are cleaning your chain, it’s a good idea to wipe off other parts of your drivetrain that may need attention, like the chainrings, rear cogs, and rear derailleur pulleys.

Wipe off your chain by running it through a clean, dry rag and leave your chain to air-dry or use an air compressor to blow the excess water off of your chain. Once the chain is dry it is important to relubricate your chain.

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Always lubricate chain after cleaning

Use lube such as Park Tool CL-1 to lube the chain at each individual rivet. Next, use a clean, dry rag to wipe the excess lube from your chain to prevent dirt from collecting on your chain.

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Wipe of excess lube

If you used a dummy hub to clean your chain, remove it now and reinstall your rear wheel in your bicycle. Your chain is now clean and ready to ride.