A beginners guide to bike cleaning

There’s never a more important time to pick up the sponge than during the winter months as a quick jaunt to the local shops can be enough to completely plaster your bike in grime and muck. It’s time to grab that sponge, fill a bucket and get cleaning. Quick and easy.

There’s never a more important time to pick up the sponge than during the winter months as a quick jaunt to the local shops can be enough to completely plaster your bike in grime and muck. You can almost get away with putting off cleaning your bike in the spring and summer months, but during winter? No way, especially if you’re one for off-road adventuring or even the mud fest that is cyclocross. It’s time to grab that sponge, fill a bucket and get cleaning.

Quick and easy

Bike cleans are feared the world over, but it doesn’t have to take hours to get your bikes as clean as a whistle. In reality, it could only take ten to fifteen minutes out of your day, perhaps half an hour if you’re dealing with a particularly dirty machine.

Before we jump into the step by step guide, what are you going to need in your arsenal of cleaning products? First of all, never underestimate the value of a workstand. Homemade or makeshift solutions are all very well, but to avoid damaging your bike and ensure you can get into every nook and cranny of the frame, a dedicated stand is an essential piece of kit.

Next, it’s the holy trinity – bike cleaner, degreaser and lube. To apply all these products, make sure you’ve got a soft sponge, a soft bristled brush (a toothbrush will often get the job done) and a proper gear brush to really dig into the drivetrain.

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A step by step guide to bike cleaning

  • Before you really dig into the grime it’s wise to give the whole bike a quick onceover with a good covering of bike cleaner spray. After you’ve given it time to work its way in, go around the bike scrubbing with a soft sponge and some clean water (preferably warm, if only to make the job a little more pleasant when it’s bitterly cold outside), ridding your bike of that top layer of grime and muck.

  • To get really stuck into the drivetrain, hubs, cassette, brakes and rims, you’re going to want to remove the wheels. This is where a work stand really comes in handy, picking your frame up off the ground.

First, wipe the rims and brake pads, removing any excess debris that might have built up. It’s then time to move onto the dreaded derailleurs and chainset – often the dirtiest parts of your bike. A standard bike cleaning spray is pretty useless here. Instead, you’ll need a specialist degreasing agent to really get at the grime. Once you’ve sprayed the components – including cassette and chain – leave the degreaser for a couple of minutes to really work its magic. Once all the degreaser has worked its way in, it’s time to attack the metal components with a soft bristle brush, ridding the all-important components of the dreaded corrosive grit and grime.


  • Once you’re happy with the amount of muck you’ve removed from the working parts, it’s time to give it another quick rinse, this time to get all the soapy suds and streaky marks off your bike. It’s best to avoid the temptation of using a hose here, and never jetwash as this can damage the frame’s coating and mess with bearings. Instead, refill your bucket with warm water and rinse with a clean sponge.
  • After the bike has dried, it’s good practice to re-apply some lube to the chain and pivot points on the derailleurs. Whether you opt for a wet or dry lube is up to you, but just remember, a dry lube will need almost daily application, especially during the wet winter months.

With this quick and easy cleaning tutorial, your bike should stay sparkling throughout the upcoming winter period. If you’re eager to learn more, why not pop into the shop and pick the brains of our expert mechanics?

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