Cleaning the bike chain is part of basic maintenance every cyclist should know. However, it can be a messy affair for some, especially if you’re not using the right tools.
This article will explain step by step how to clean and degrease the bike chain.
Things to note
- Use bike-specific degreasers.
- Rinse the chain thoroughly and dry it before applying a new layer of chain lube.
- Keep the degreasers from getting in contact with the disc brakes.
- Always rinse the degreaser off the bike immediately after cleaning.
- Liquid-based chain degreaser
- Chain cleaner tool
- Chain keeper
How to degrease the bike chain with a chain cleaner tool
- Place the bike on a repair stand. Shift to the largest front chainring and smallest cog.
- Remove the rear wheel and use a chain keeper to keep the chain’s tension. It’s OK if you don’t have a chain keeper.
- Fill up the chain cleaner tool with a chain degreaser. There is usually a line indicating the required fill level.
- Wrap the tool around the chain on the bottom side (below the chainstay).
- Slowly turn the pedal backward. The brushes in the chain cleaner will clean in between the chain links, rollers, and plates.
- Replace the degrease with soapy water once you feel that the chain is clean.
- Slowly turn the pedal backward again.
- Remove the chain cleaner and rinse off the chain.
- Use a clean rag to wipe off excess water from the chain.
- Lube the chain.
Which type of degreaser to use?
Go for a bike-specific degreaser as the ingredients are friendlier to the bike and components. If you’re using the degreaser with a chain cleaner tool, use a liquid-based degreaser and not aerosol.
Stronger degreasers are more effective, but they’re harsher to the bike components and paint job. On the contrary, milder degreasers would require slightly more cleaning effort but are friendlier to the bike.
What if I don’t have a chain cleaner tool?
A toothbrush will also do the job, but the chain cleaner tool makes it easier and faster to clean.
What if I don’t have a chain keeper?
Without a chain keeper, you’ll have to keep the rear wheel on while cleaning.
The chain keeper allows you to remove the rear wheel and keep the chain tension. With the wheels off, cleaning becomes easier without having the degreaser splashing on the wheels.