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How to Clean Bicycle Chains

Aug 24, 2010 | By Rose Welton

A dirty bicycle chain can not only affect a bicycle's performance, but it will also affect the life of the chain. To ensure that a bicycle is shifting and accelerating well, the chain must be frequently cleaned and lubed. This will extend the life of the bicycle chain as well and is an important part of bicycle maintenance. For best results, a bicycle chain should be cleaned monthly. The process can be done while the chain is still on the bicycle, or it can be removed from the bicycle prior to cleaning.


Clean a Chain on a Bicycle

Step 1  Fill a pan with hot water and dish soap.

Step 2  Soak a cloth in the hot, soapy water. Use the cloth to wipe down the chain on the bicycle.

Step 3  Turn the bicycle pedals with your hands to advance the chain. This will allow you to wipe the entire length of the chain.

Step 4  Soak another cloth with a degreaser. Wipe the chain with the cloth, pushing the bicycle pedals to advance the chain, and wipe the entire length.

Step 5  Rinse the entire length of the bicycle chain with a cloth soaked in water.

Step 6  Dry the bicycle chain with a clean rag.


Clean a Chain Removed From a Bicycle

Step 1  Pour about an inch of cleaning solution into a pan or plastic tub. You can use hot water with dish soap, a solvent or a degreaser.

Step 2  Place the removed bicycle chain into the pan or plastic tub. Soak the chain for one to two minutes.

Step 3  Remove the chain from the cleaning solution. Scrub the chain with a coarse brush or scouring pad.

Step 4  Place the chain back into the cleaning solution. If the solution is excessively dirty, place the chain into a new pan of solution. Soak the chain for one minute.

Step 5  Remove the chain and wipe the cleaning solution away with a clean cloth. Dry the chain.


Tips and Warnings

  • Apply bicycle chain lube after you have cleaned the chain. Coat the entire chain with lube and wipe away the excess lube with a cloth. Clean your bicycle chain in a ventilated area or outdoors, especially if you are using degreaser or a strong cleaning solvent. Consider wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands from strong cleaning chemicals.

Things You'll Need

  • Pan or plastic tub
  • Dish soap
  • Degreaser
  • Clean cloths
  • Coarse brush


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