How to wash your bike (with pictures)

How to wash your bike (with pictures)
How to wash your bike (with pictures)

A clean bike will look much better and run better, which will help you go faster. If you clean it regularly, you will save yourself additional costs for repairing damage caused by rust and corrosion. Plus, it only takes ten to fifteen minutes to do it right. To your sponge!


Part 1 of 3: clean the transmission

Wash Your Bike Step 1

Step 1. Start with the transmission

You should always start by cleaning the transmission that propels the bike. It is an element that consists of four parts: the sprockets (cogwheels on the rear wheel), a rear derailleur (a metal arm on the rear wheel), chainrings (large cogwheels at the pedals) and chain. The drivetrain is the part that keeps you going, but as dirt, rust, and grime build up in it, you could have trouble with the chain.

Frequent cleaning and proper maintenance of the drivetrain can add many years to the life of your bike

Wash Your Bike Step 2

Step 2. Put it in position

Lift the bike up or turn it over so you can spin the wheels without moving it forward. You will have to rotate the chain to clean it properly. If you don't have a stand, you can just turn it over and put it on the saddle and handlebars. Do not forget to put rags that you can dirty without regrets under the bike to avoid soiling the saddle and the grips.

Step 3. Use a rag and a degreaser to scrub the chain

The degreaser or the biodegradable solvent dissolves the grime without damaging the chain or filling it even more. You will find it in most bicycle shops, next to lubricants. Pour some on a cloth and wrap it around the chain loosely so that it can continue to move between your fingers. Step on the pedals with the other hand and spin the chain at least two or three times.

  • You should rotate the chain two or three times, pressing hard enough with your fingers on the top, bottom and sides of the chain.
  • Remove any visible grease or dirt with the cloth.

Step 4. Clean the transmission

Use an old brush or toothbrush to clean between parts of the transmission. You need to clean them to prevent grime and grime from building up in the gears. Dip the brush in a mixture of water and degreaser and pass it between the pinions. If you find it easier, hold the brush in place while operating the pedals with the other hand.

Use a screwdriver or remove deposits in hard-to-reach corners by hand

Step 5. Wipe off the grime on the outside of the derailleur and chainrings

If they look dirty, you need to clean them. Use a damp cloth and a little degreaser to pass between as many teeth and wheels as possible to keep your bike clean. Let the wheel do the work for you when possible by holding the cloth in place and spinning the wheels as you operate the pedals. Here are some areas we often forget:

  • the small toothed wheel which is on the derailleur and which must also be cleaned,
  • the back of the chainrings (closer to the bike),
  • the frame, fittings and hinges near the chain.
Wash Your Bike Step 6

Step 6. Buy a cleaner for heavily soiled chains

If the rag and toothbrush aren't enough, you may need to purchase a cleaning product. You pour it into a container that you attach to the chain. You can hold it in place as you pedal, allowing the chain links to be brushed and rubbed for you. It should cost you between 20 and 30 € and you should find a degreaser and a brush for the more difficult corners.

Step 7. Lubricate the bike chain immediately after cleaning it

Even if you don't use it often, you should always have a bottle of lubricant on hand to lubricate the chain and protect it from dirt and moisture. Spin the pedals slowly after cleaning and drying the transmission. Apply a drop of lubricant every two to four links where they connect. Once you have lubricated the entire chain, operate the pedals and apply another ten to twelve drops, including the sprockets, to make sure all parts are covered. Use a kitchen towel to wipe excess lubricant from the chain when you are finished, as too much lubricant can trap dirt and cause grime to build up. If you are going to clean up the rest, wait and do it at the end.

  • Your goal is to apply a thin layer of lubricant to the chain, not to make it drip. You should barely have any on your fingers if you touch it.
  • Touch the chain with your fingers, if it looks dry you need to apply more lubricant.
  • Do not use any product other than a lubricant specially designed for bicycle chains.

Part 2 of 3: clean the frame and wheels

Wash Your Bike Step 8

Step 1. Set up the bike

Place it against a post, on a stand, against a tree, or upside down. Lay a blanket or an old sheet on the floor to protect the saddle and handlebars from dirt and marks if you have turned it upside down. Make sure you are in an open, well-ventilated area that you can spray with water without damaging anything.

Wash Your Bike Step 9

Step 2. Water the bicycle with a low pressure hose

You don't have to spray dirt all over, you just want to wet the bike to remove dirt and grime before you start scrubbing.

Never use a high pressure or fine drip hose. This could cause water to enter the components of the bicycle and cause rust or wash off the lubricant on important parts

Wash Your Bike Step 10

Step 3. Fill a bucket with lukewarm water

If you wish, you can also mix in your favorite cleaning product, but you should avoid using dish soap as it often contains salt which could rust parts of the bicycle, including the frame. You should use a different bucket and sponge than you used for the transmission. Grease from the chain and sprockets will end up on the frame if you don't use others, ruining your cleaning.

Wash Your Bike Step 11

Step 4. Remove the wheels

You need to clean them as thoroughly as possible and you will also have to wipe the inside of the frame with the sponge. Leaving the wheels on may make it more difficult for you to clean the parts of the bike that are closer to the ground and the tire, the parts that are usually the dirtiest.

Step 5. Use the soft side of the sponge to clean the frame

Scrub the entire frame, which is the metal part that makes up the body of the bicycle, with a sponge and lukewarm water. Never use a brush that is too hard or abrasive on the frame, even on difficult tasks. This could scratch the paintwork and accelerate corrosion of the bike.

  • If there are parts that are more difficult to clean, apply a little soap or degreaser to them with a little water and let sit for several minutes. Rub well, in circles, until the dirt is gone.
  • If you have buffer brakes (two pieces of black rubber on both sides of the wheel), use the rougher part of the sponge to wipe off any dirt that has built up there.
  • If you have disc brakes (metal discs attached to the wheels), wipe both sides with the soft side of the sponge.
Wash Your Bike Step 13

Step 6. Wipe down the edges of the wheels

Tires, which will get dirty the second they hit the ground, do not need to be cleaned. However, the metal edge the tire is attached to can also attract dirt that could prevent you from braking properly. Use the abrasive side of the sponge to clean the edges, then wipe them down to make the metal part of the wheel sparkle clean.

  • Use a toothbrush to scrub the hub, the small cylinder that sits in the center of the wheel, and the screws and nuts on the sides.
  • If you want to clean the tires or see large chunks of dirt stuck in the molding, use a large stiff brush to clean them quickly and without breaking a sweat.
Wash Your Bike Step 14

Step 7. Use a clean rag to thoroughly clean the sprockets

The sprockets on the rear wheel are a set of cogwheels on the rear of the bike. Even if you cleaned it up quickly in the previous step, you should still take the time to make sure the entire bicycle is clean. Run a little soapy water over the gears and use a clean rag to run between the gears and remove any dirt that may have accumulated there.

Step 8. Gently wipe down the bike and let it dry in the sun outside

You should not let the water sit there for too long. Take a clean, dry cloth and wipe off the excess water. Focus on the links and the elements, wherever water might be present for a relatively long period of time. When you're done, put the bike up and let it dry, preferably in the sun.

  • If you had it on the saddle and handlebars, wipe them off when you turn it over before you start to dry anything.
  • If you clean it on a damp or overcast day, take a little longer to dry it.

Part 3 of 3: keep the bike clean

Wash Your Bike Step 16

Step 1. Find out about regular maintenance

They will allow you to extend the life of your bike. They are made of screws, pulleys, nuts, screws and cables that must work in harmony while you ride a bicycle. Rust, dirt, and lack of lubricant can cause these different parts to rub together, increasing wear and preventing you from enjoying this activity. By taking care of cleaning your property, you save a lot of time and money in the long run.

By wiping down your bike with a damp cloth after riding in dirt or mud, you can save a lot of time and avoid a deep cleaning

Wash Your Bike Step 17

Step 2. Clean it up quickly

It is important to do this after a walk in the rain or on wet ground. Dry it as best you can with a clean towel or cloth and check the chain. Water and mud can make their way through the sprockets and chain and cause serious problems later, but they are easier to remove right after arriving home. Wipe down the chain and remove any dirt from the chainrings and derailleurs before adding four to five drops of lube to make up for the one you just wiped off.

Check the chain. If it looks dry, it's time to re-lubricate it completely

Wash Your Bike Step 18

Step 3. Add one to two drops of lubricant

It will have to be done 2 to 3 times a year, or after a deep cleaning. The chain is not the only part of the bicycle that must remain lubricated in order to function properly. Even though they don't need that much lubricant to function well, the following parts may not suffer from a little lubricant every now and then.

  • The hinges on the brakes, usually the parts that hold the two sides together (on pad brakes only).
  • Use your fingers or a small cloth to coat the cables with a thin layer of lubricant.
  • Gears, if present, use only bicycle lubricant.
Wash Your Bike Step 19

Step 4. Closely monitor the transmission

There are very few areas on the bike that get as dirty as the drivetrain, but this is probably the most important part to clean. If you cycle every day, you should clean the chain, sprockets and derailleurs once or twice a week.

You're probably going to have to clean the drivetrain more often than the rest of the bike. At a minimum, you should check, clean and lubricate the chain every week or every two weeks

Wash Your Bike Step 20

Step 5. Regularly clean the bike to protect it from rust and damage

You should wipe and clean it once a month at a minimum. Your best bet would be to clean it well after every 20-25 uses. You can thoroughly clean it and top up with lubricant at least once every year or every two years. That being said, there are also situations in which you should always wash your bike:

  • after using it in wet or muddy conditions,
  • when you hear squeaking and rubbing,
  • when you see dirt, grime or grease on the fittings, brakes, sprockets or chain.


  • Before washing the bicycle, remove large pieces of dirt.
  • Instead of washing it with water, you can wipe it with a damp towel. It works best if it's not too dirty and you can wait a little longer for a deep cleaning.
  • While cleaning, inspect the bike thoroughly for any problems. Repair or replace the necessary items when you are done cleaning it.
  • You must not put wax on the bikes, it could leak and damage the elements.


  • Use only bicycle lubricant, nothing else.
  • Do not wash it with a high pressure water jet, this will also remove the grease and lubricants necessary for its proper functioning. It could slip into areas where there should not be water such as the gears and pedals.

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