You may have left your bike parked after a rainy and muddy day, then forgotten to clean it. Later, when you came to pick it up again, you found that the mud had dried out and made a mess. Besides it shining and glittering, it is important to keep your bike clean to extend its components’ life, as well as to dry it well in order to prevent rusting.
Handy tips for cleaning and degreasing your bike
- Use a specific machine for cleaning bicycles – it is designed to shoot water at the right pressure.
- A hose will also do well if such a specific machine is not available.
- Avoid the use of high pressure machines, such as those used to clean cars, as this could damage bearings, wheels or other delicate components. If you have to, shoot the water at least at a distance of 1.5 meters.
What you will need to clean your bike
- Bucket of clean water: It will be useful for cleaning your sponge.
- Soap: There are specific soaps for cleaning bicycles, which help to remove grease and dirt from the frame. You can use other types of soap, but the ones specially designed for bicycles are not aggressive to paint or components.
- A couple of rags: One to clean the dirtiest areas and another to wipe off excess water
- Sponge: The typical big ones for cleaning cars, those work perfectly for cleaning bikes too.
- Latex gloves: Not essential but recommended, so your hands are protected from grease and aggressive substances, such as degreasing agents.
- Brushes: Perfect for cleaning hard-to-reach areas, such as hubs and cassettes.
- Degreaser: For removing grease from the chain and the entire transmission.
How to clean and degrease your bike
1. Remove the wheels
You will find it much easier to get to hard-to-reach places on the frameset and it will be much simpler to clean them separately.
Use plenty of soap and water. Never spare any resources for your bike.
2. Start by cleaning the frameset
In order not to clean some areas twice, it is important that you clean always from the top to the bottom.
Start with the obvious: get the frameset, handlebars, seatpost, saddle, crankset and pedals wet. As it has been previously mentioned, never use high-pressure water. Also, never point directly towards bearings or suspension elements.
3. Then, focus on the transmission
Once everything is wet, pour the degreaser on the transmission – chain, chainring, sprockets – and let it work. Try not to get any on the brake pads, they could get contaminated and you would have to change or file them. Quite a mess. Put a rag around the brake disc, or a special protector, and you’ll ensure that nothing falls out.
In the meantime, apply spray soap to the entire bike and use the sponge to start cleaning from the top of the frame to the bottom. You can use a sponge or a soft brush. Keep an eye on the inside of the fork, the rear stays and the bottom of the bottom bracket shell.
4. Clean the bike chain
Once the degreaser has started to decompose dirt and grease from the transmission, you can brush the chain, cassette and chainrings. Take advantage of the movement of the chain by moving the cranks back and leaving the brush fixed in one point. Clean thoroughly between the sprockets of the cassette as well.
5. Brush both hubs
Before rinsing, let the soap continue to act on the frame and clean the wheels – tires, rims, spokes and hubs – with the sponge. First rinse the sponge in your clean water bucket. You can use special brushes to clean the hubs, which allow you to reach the spots between the spokes and hubs easily.
6. Assemble both wheels
Rinsing with plenty of water but without applying too much pressure to delicate areas.
7. Let dry and lubricate
Before you finish, wipe the whole bike dry with one of your clean rags. It is very important that everything is dry, even inside the screws and fasteners.
Finally, lubricate the transmission. You can use oil or wax lubricants for the chain. Remember to apply some to the pedals as well. At this point we can take advantage to remove the seat post, dry it well and apply assembly grease, to avoid annoying noises.
8. The final touch
To keep your bike as good as the first day you rode it, you can apply a protector to keep it shiny (or matt, depending on the finish) and provide a protective film that will prevent dust and dirt from adhering easily.
Now all you have to do is get out on the street, enjoy your bike and get it dirty again.
How often do I need to wash my bike?
There are no fixed rules. Obviously, if you go out when it has just stopped raining, you should clean it that same day, but if it is left parked in the cellar for a long time, you should also dust it and re-grease it. As for lubrication, we recommend applying it on mountain bikes after every ride and every two or three times on road bikes in dry weather.