What are Some At-home Supplies That Could be Used to Clean or Wash a Bike?
After my tip on cleaning a drivetrain, I received a flood of messages asking if there were any more commonly found household items that could be useful. Here are a few items that could work in a pinch or could be added to the regular shopping list.
Dish soap mixed with water can make for a great general cleaner. You don’t need much soap to do the job, and I would slowly add as needed. It breaks down grease efficiently and removes grime effortlessly. I have noticed that some brands can leave a layer of residue if not washed off with a sponge or towel.
Simple Green is another option for cleaning parts and works very well. My only hesitation is that I have left a few components in a pool of Simple Green to find that it also compromised the finish of the parts.
Glass cleaners like Windex are another option for a quick wipe-down. It can leave a faint layer of residue if the cloth you are using is not clean, but overall does more good than bad.
Clorox wipes make for an easy option for cleaning dirty cranks.
For knocking the dirt off, I prefer the softest dish-scrubbing brush or sponge I can find and most grocery stores and convenience stores have a small selection of inexpensive options.
“I had a few people e-mail me telling me that they use motor oil on their cassettes and chains. While this could be an option in an emergency, it’s not something I’d recommend.”
Brake cleaner used on automobiles and motorcycles can work as a degreaser, but it is very strong and, in my opinion, overkill for a bicycle. If you choose it, make sure to keep away from sealed bearings, freehubs and your frame. I would remove the parts you’re trying to clean to isolate them from the bike.
I had a few people e-mail me telling me that they use motor oil on their cassettes and chains. While this could be an option in an emergency, it’s not something I’d recommend. The mess and cleanup that would be needed after even just one ride would deem it in my opinion not recommended.
Many of these substances and methods are not recommended, because they can cause damage to paint, carbon and even the alloys used in bicycles and their parts. Using bicycle-specific methods and substances are always highly encouraged, and if you resort to anything else, don’t be surprised if there are negative side effects.