How To Clean A Bike – Know The Simple Easy Steps

If you have a bike then you must be well aware that how necessary it is to keep your bike clean. Cleaning a bike regularly is the most important part of a bike maintenance routine. If you do not clean your bike at regular intervals, the expensive parts of your bike will begin to corrode due to the accumulation of mud and dirt; and brakes and gears and other components might seize to work or become un-cooperative. Here in this article I will discuss with you about how to clean a bike in simple easy steps within minutes.

By following these simple steps of bike wash and lubrication, you can make it look better, improve its performance and increase its longevity as well. Remember that a clean bike is a smooth and a fast bike. So clean your bike and make it’s riding enjoyable and fast.

Bike Cleaning Kits:

In order to give your bike a proper cleaning make sure you have the right bike cleaning tools. You will need the following basic tools for washing bike:

  • A good spot for cleaning your bike.
  • A bucket
  • A good bike cleaner or dish soap for cleaning bike frame.
  • A hose (optional) and spray nozzle for running water.
  • Clean Rags (needed in plenty for cleaning and drying )
  • Brushes of different sizes and shapes to get dirt and grimes out from different parts of the bike. An old tooth brush will also do.
  • Sponge (optional)
  • Bike stand (optional) to keep your bike off the ground.
  • Chain cleaning liquid or bike degreaser
  • Bike chain cleaning tool (optional)
  • Bike Lubricant
bike cleaning kits

For suitable important bike cleaning tools you can have a look at the following items and more on Amazon:

  • Muc-Off MOX-904 Nano Tech Bike Cleaner – 1 Liter
  • Park Tool CG-2.4 Bicycle Chain and Drivetrain Cleaning Kit
  • Muc Off Bio Drivetrain Cleaner, 750 Milliliters – Effective Biodegradable Bicycle Chain Cleaner and Degreaser Fluid 
  • Finish Line Dry Bike Lubricant with Teflon Squeeze Bottle, 8 oz.
  • 9 Pieces Bike Chain Cleaner Cleaning Brush Set Cycling Tools Kit Bike Accessories Scrubber
  • Bikehand Bike Repair Stand (Max 55 lbs) – Home Portable Bicycle Mechanics Workstand

How To Wash A Bike : Step by Step guide

Step 1: Make Your Bike Ready For A Cleanup

At the very beginning spot a suitable place where you will clean your bike. Make sure the place has a good drainage system. You can mount your bike on a bike stand which will help to position your bike at a height comfortable for you to work on it. You will be able to move the pedals or wheels while cleaning hard-to-reach parts. Moreover due to bike stand, dirty water will not split back onto the bike.

But if you do not have bike stand, in that case you have to turn your bike upside down over and rest it on its seat and handlebars. Don’t forget to place a towel or a piece of cloth underneath it before the bike wash in order to avoid scratch of seat and handlebars.

 Step 2: Rinse Your Bike       

Rinse your bike thoroughly so that any loose mud or dirt will come off easily. This rinsing will also loosen hardened mud and dirt so that you don’t scratch your bike frame while scrubbing. You can use a hose for this purpose but make sure not to use a pressure washer or intense spray on your hose which will force water into the bearings and cause them to rust.

 You should also avoid targeting water directly at the center of the wheels, headsets, cranks and bottom brackets. If you are cleaning an electric bike then do not take the risk of spraying water into the battery, motor or other electric parts.

Step 3 : How To Clean The Drivetrain Of The Bike

A drivetrain is composed of four parts- a cassette, a rear derailleur, chain rings and the chain. For a silky smooth pedaling and flawless shifting, the drivetrain of a bike must be free off dirt, grease and grime. Cleaning a bike chain is easy. If you are thinking how to clean a bike chain then for this you will need a bike degreaser or chain cleaning liquid and a rag.

Pour some degreaser on a rag and gently rub it over the chain. Give light pressure with your fingers on top, bottom and both sides of the chain. While rubbing the chain, pedal the bike with other hand so that you can clean the whole chain. Repeat it over and over until you are satisfied with the sparkle. You can also use a chain cleaning tool for filthier chains. This will make your work easier.

bike chain cleaning tool

For the cassette, the rear derailleur and the chain rings use an old tooth brush dipped in degreaser. After scrubbing the drivetrain rinse it and make it as clean as a silver jewelry. If you use a tooth brush for scrubbing the chain, make sure not to use the same tooth brush for any other part especially the brakes because that brush will contaminate it with grease and grime ruining its performance. Be careful to get off any mud and grime from the ring teeth and between the rings.

Moreover if you want to clean the drivetrain more then you can move out the chain, chainset and cassette from the bike and dip those in a bucket of warm water mixed with degreaser. Then scrub and clean them thoroughly one by one. Then set them again into their original place after deep cleaning. Witness them glowing.

dip the chain chainset and cassette into warm water

Step 4: Remove Rust From A Bike

 In case you notice some rust in your chain or other metallic parts, you should know how to get rust off a bike. For this you will need a steel wool and some lime juice (citric acid) which is very helpful in removing rust. Skip this step if there is no rust in your bike chain.

Pour some lime juice on the steel wool and scrub the different parts of the chain which contains rust. Steel wool and lime juice both being rough on hands, you should wear latex gloves before the process. Keep on changing the steel wool at intervals as it will be covered with rust as you clean the chain. After scrubbing for few minutes, wipe the chain with a soft rag and see if there is any more rust left. Repeat the process until all the rust is gone.

In the same way you can get rid of rust from other metallic parts of the bike. Once you finish scrubbing and wiping the metallic parts, rinse the whole area thoroughly with water to remove the lime juice and rust. Even a little bit of lime juice or rust can lead to more rust. So be careful.

rusty bike

Step 5: How To Clean A Bike Frame

After cleaning the drivetrain, it is time for you to know how to clean the bike frame. Take a bucket of warm soapy water and dip the sponge or a soft brush into it. Then start to scrub the bike frame softly to avoid scratches. If you use a bike cleaning liquid then spray the liquid on the bike frame and let it stay on it for some times as per given instruction. Then scrub the bike frame with a soft brush or a sponge from top to bottom or front to back. Use small brush or a tooth brush for getting dirt out from narrow spaces. Scrub the crankset softly so that you do not damage the bearings. Then with a low pressure spray hose rinse the frame properly.

Step 6: How To Clean Bike Tires

With the soapy water or the bike cleaner and a firm brush, scrub the tires of the bike in such a way that the rigid or dried up mud and dirt gets out off the tires. The bike stand allows you to spin the wheels and scrub it thoroughly over and over. Scrub around the rims, hub and spokes on from both sides of the wheels. You can use a tooth brush for cleaning the narrow spaces between the spokes attached to the rim.

If your bike has rim brakes then you should be more careful cleaning the rims well since half of the friction of the brake depends on these rims and does influence timely stops. After the scrubs, rinse the leather off with water.

 If you do not have a valve cap for preventing dirt or anything else clogging over the valve, then you should also be careful to look into the valve for any dirt and clean it. While cleaning the tire make sure to look for any cracks, leakage or damage on the rubber and fabric casing of the tire. This is also an advantage of cleaning a bike regularly. You will also notice any scratches, cracks or damage on the bike easily while cleaning different parts of it. Take out the wheels from the bike and clean it if the bike is excessively dirty. This will also allow you to clean the inside surface of the mudguard with brush and bike cleaner or soapy water.

Step 7: Repeat The Process And Rinse The Bike Again

If you think that there is still some dirt and grime left and some parts need to be cleaned then repeat the cleaning on those particular area. Then rinse the bike thoroughly again and again so that no bike cleaner or soap or degreaser is left on the bike.

Step 8: Dry The Bike

When you are finish with your cleaning and rinsing, then with a clean and dry rag, carefully wipe off the extra water from different parts of the bike softly. Pay heed to any parts or joints where the water could stay for a long time and damage different parts. Then leave the bike to dry in the open air before lubricating it.

Step 9: How To Lube Bike Chain

After the bike dries up, it is essential to lube up the moving components of the bike in order to keep them moving and avoid corrosion. Make sure that there is no degreaser left on those areas before lubricating. Slowly pour lubricant onto the chain links while spinning the pedal. Once you get back on the starting point of the chain, stop pouring lubricant. Then lubricate the rear cassette. Next let the lubricant soak for few minutes. Then slowly wipe off extra lubricants with a dry rag.

how to lube a bike chain

Do not drench the chain in lube. You should keep in mind that excess lubricant is not good. It will attract dirt which will then stick to the chain damaging the drivetrain. You can also apply some lubricant to the other moving parts like the brake levers and the shift levers as well. Likewise wipe off extra lubricants from these parts as well in order to avoid attracting dirt and other particles. Note that a bike specific lubricant should be used for the lube rather a household or automotive lube. And try to clean and lube the chain after every one or two long rides.

Advantages You Get If You Clean A Bike Regularly

Needless to say that cleaning a bike has many advantages. Clean a bike and see the difference. It will turn from a filthy one to a new and polished one- from a beggar into a prince (jokes apart). Most importantly, if you clean your bike regularly then its various expensive parts will be protected from rust and damages. So cleaning increases the lifespan of various parts of a bike and saves your money. You will experience a smooth, easy and fun filled ride after cleaning it. Moreover, if you make a habit of cleaning your bike regularly, it will save you from dire consequences. During the cleanup, you get the opportunities to check for any damages such as worn out tires, scratchy frames, rusty chain, unresponsive brake pads, clogged valve, or wheels that need replacement, etc. Thus you can fix those issues before your next ride.

However during the whole cleaning process you should keep in mind that all these cleaning tasks should be performed with attention and care so that not a single part gets seriously damaged.

I hope by now you know very well how to clean a bike step by step. You can also understand how important it is to keep your bike clean. So from now onwards you should include bike cleaning at the very beginning of your bike maintenance checklist.  Experience a smooth, easy, fast and fun-filled ride after every cleanup. 

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