Author Topic: DIY bike cleaning products?  (Read 1449 times)


  • Stubble
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DIY bike cleaning products?
« on: May 19, 2019, 08:35:01 AM »
Did some forum searches but it doesn't seem like there were a lot of mentions of products or anything you could DIY (if oossible?). It recently occured to me I should clean my bike, especially after biking in the rain. I've looked up some eco friendly or biodegradable cleansers but am wondering if there's anything anyone just makes themselves? Also, what are some recommendations for other maintenance products such as oil/lube?

Some Google searches recommended WD 40 if you clean your bike regularly, but other sources suggest a heavier long lasting lube if you don't clean it regularly. I'm trying to get into the habit of cleaning the bike at least weekly but I dont gave any degreaser and lube yet.

Wondering if anyone has any expert tips to offer.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: DIY bike cleaning products?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2019, 11:26:37 AM »
I avoid WD 40 on the chain as I read once that the detergent in it attracts gunk? But agree it is good for cleaning. Personally I use magic erasers (but the Home Depot generic brand melamine foam sponges) to clean almost everything. Standard machine oil is good & not too expensive, plus doesn't come in a wasteful aerosol can. I finally used up some carcinogenic bike chain substance that I bought years ago from a bike shop. Because it's so poisonous I don't think I'd buy that again.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: DIY bike cleaning products?
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2019, 01:08:43 PM »
I use this Park Tools chain cleaner, and it makes it a very simple process.

I didn't buy the kit with the cleaner, but got the machine and brush separately, then bought a gallon of Pedro's Oranj Peelz cleaner, which I bought back in early 2014 for $50. It's showing up for $60 these days. After five years, I still have at least 25% left, so it does go a long way.
I use it to clean chains, cassettes, wheels, the frame...just about anything that gets grease on it.

A chain measuring tool is very useful for telling you when your chain needs replacing.

If you don't replace a stretched chain, it causes more wear on your cassette and chainrings, plus it can start skipping shifts on you. I get around 3,000 miles on a chain.

If you can find a used bike stand going cheap (I think I paid $75 for this one), it makes working on the bike a lot easier. I set this up in my basement or driveway, depending on the temperature outside, and I can pop the bike in there and do all my maintenance at once.

As far as chain lube goes, don't use regular WD-40 - that's a solvent rather than a lubricant.
A lot depends on where you ride, so check some articles like this one and see what matches your riding style.


  • Stubble
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Re: DIY bike cleaning products?
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2019, 11:14:35 AM »
For general cleaning I use Simple Green. I bought a huge jug of it, I then dilute a portion of it with water in an empty spray bottle I had laying around. It's a degreaser and has directions on the back for mixture amount for light cleaning/heavy cleaning etc. I think it is somewhat eco friendly and it smells quite pleasant. Just spray it on, wipe it down and you'll have a clean, good smelling bike.
As far as the chain, I had one of those park tool chain car wash things and while it did a good job, it was a pain in the ass and not worth the hassle to me. Now I just wipe the chain down with a clean rag after a few rides and apply fresh lube. I will also clean the cassette/jockey wheels on derailleur when I see them getting full of crud. I use ProLink lube in the drip bottle for the chain.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2019, 11:16:36 AM by MatthewK »

Car Jack

  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: DIY bike cleaning products?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2019, 11:47:49 AM »
When I worked as a bike mechanic, I cleaned everything with WD-40.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: DIY bike cleaning products?
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2019, 11:56:27 AM »
Simple Green. Its Biodegradeable, safe/non-toxic, highly effective, cheap.

For lubing the chain, avoid WD40. Best choice depends on what type of conditions you ride. I typically use a dry/wax based lube.


  • Stubble
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Re: DIY bike cleaning products?
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2019, 01:23:23 AM »
Simple green works well. Dish soap works great! Take an old sponge or rag, wipe down the chain with dish soap that is mixed with only a little water. Let it sit for a few minutes.

Then come back with a bucket of soap and water and wash the whole bike. Rags or brushes work fine. Rinse everything off well. You can use a hose, just donít spray with high pressure.

Hold your dirtiest rag around the chain and spin the cranks backwards. Keep wiping grease off the chain until it looks clean. Once you think the chain is clean, wipe it off some more.

Hop on your bike and ride it around the block to help dry it off. Then put a little bit of medium weight oil based lube on the chain links. The brand really doesnít matter. Spin the cranks some more to work the oil into the links. Then take a rag and wipe as much excess lube off as you can. You just need lube in between the links of the chain so they move smoothly. Anything on the outside only picks up dirt. After a few rides, wipe the chain down again. If you arenít riding in the rain or mud you can go a long time without lubing your chain. Just clean and re-lube if it starts to squeak or feel completely dry.

Donít get wax-based lubes. The wax gets squeezed to the outside of the chain and makes a nasty mess. I use wd-40 sometimes to help clean my bike if it is really nasty. You can also use it as chain lube in a pinch, but it is too thin, so youíll have to keep re-applying it.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: DIY bike cleaning products?
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2019, 11:43:23 AM »
Don't use WD-40, that's for driving out water or loosening stuck fasteners. Get some proper bike chain lube from a bike shop. In dry conditions I use basic chain lube, but in the winter when the roads are wet all the time I switch to a thicker product designed for wet conditions.

For cleaning, I also use the Park tool, but fill it with ordinary citrus degreaser from the hardware store. It's the same stuff bike shops sell as chain cleaner, but for a fraction of the cost. Buy the most concentrated stuff you can find and then you won't have to use much of it. The eco products are just watered down degreaser and I find they do a shit job of cleaning and I just end up using a ton of the product. I may be I'm in the minority here though.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: DIY bike cleaning products?
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2019, 03:15:20 PM »
For general cleaning, you just need any decent degreaser. Homemade degreasers are usually based on vinegar (straight up, simply diluted, or mixed with soap and/or baking soda). After cleaning you'll need to lube, I'd be less confident in DIY products for that part of the job.


  • Stubble
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Re: DIY bike cleaning products?
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2019, 09:24:34 AM »
Thank you so much for the tips everyone!! :) Happy biking!


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: DIY bike cleaning products?
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2019, 08:44:37 AM »
I will just add that HomeDepot's HDX citris degreaser is great for drivetrain cleaning. As good as anything bike-specific, and the big jug will last YEARS. I still keep a mason jar of mineral spirits for *really* grimy stuff, and re-use it until it basically evaporates (only when necessary, ventilation/gloves required). Riding through the winter in Ontario can leave a mess.

I use a little bit of "car wash" soap in a bucket of water to wash the rest.


  • Senior Mustachian
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Re: DIY bike cleaning products?
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2019, 10:16:35 AM »
WD-40 is OK for cleaning your chain, especially if it hasn't been cleaned in a long while and there's a lot of built up greasy crap on there.  You just have to remember that it doesn't contain enough lube to be useful . . . so after wiping the chain dry from the WD-40 re-lube with a proper bike lubricant.  If you don't do this, your chain will rust very quickly after applying WD-40.

As far as cleaning goes, I'm a fan of a big bucket of soapy water (a few drops of dish soap is great) and a large sponge that you don't mind turning black.  Takes about 5 minutes:

- Quickly go top to bottom with the sponge, wiping everything clean.  (If you have coloured bar tape, use a separate rag/sponge for this, or grease from previous washes will make your bar tape kinda blackish.)
- Put the sponge against both of your jockey wheels on the rear derailleur and backpedal to wipe them clean.
- Wrap the sponge around the chain and backpedal a bit to clean off most of the grime there.
- Take the rear wheel off, and wash down the cassette and braking surface on both sides of the rear wheel.
- Spin the front wheel and wash off the braking surface on both sides
- Put the rear wheel back on, and hose everything clean with some water
- Bounce the bike a couple times to knock most of the water off
- Finally, re-lube brake pivots, pivots on your derailleurs, and chain

In the winter I do the above after every ride, but first spray WD-40 on the chain as a degreaser/to get slushy salty crap out of it.  If you use boiling water it melts the snow and ice, and if you work fast it will not re-freeze before you're done.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2019, 10:19:10 AM by GuitarStv »