Essential Bike Cleaning Tips

man using a spray bottle and yellow cloth to clean a bicycle

Whether you’re a seasoned road or mountain biker or you simply enjoy cycling to get ice cream with the family, your bike will inevitably get dirty. Take care of your ride by washing your bike regularly and using the right cleaning compounds to keep it rolling smoothly. These bike cleaning tips will have you back on the road or trail in no time!

What You’ll Need to Wash a Bike

Gather these items so you’re ready to learn how to wash a mountain bike or other bike:

  • A water supply (a hose is best)
  • A bucket
  • Dish soap
  • Chain degreaser
  • Two to three rags
  • Bike chain lube

There are many dedicated bike cleaning tools out there, including cycling-specific brushes and cleaning solutions. These tools are convenient but not necessary for doing a great job of cleaning your bike.

How to Wash Your Bike Like a Pro: Step-by-Step

  1. Fill your bucket with water and mix in two to three tablespoons of dish soap. If you have a cycling-specific cleaning product, add that to your bucket instead.
  2. Using a gentle spray setting on the hose, rinse your bike from the top down. Avoid spraying water directly into areas of the bike that may house bearings, such as the bottom bracket (between the pedals) and hubs of the wheels.
  3. Take a wet, soapy rag and wipe your bike down. Start with the seat and work your way down to the frame, handlebars, seat stays, and wheels. Wipe the drivetrain (chain, chainring, and cassette) last.
  4. Apply a small amount of chain degreaser to a second rag and spray a small amount directly onto your chain. Avoid getting degreaser elsewhere on your bike. While turning the pedals backward, run the chain through the rag to remove debris and old chain lube. You should be able to get your chain looking like new! You can learn how to clean a bike chain more thoroughly with help from your local bike shop or online videos. Set this rag aside to avoid using it anywhere else on your bike.
  5. Rinse your bike with the hose, again working from the top of the bike to the bottom.
  6. Leave your bike outdoors to dry, or—better yet—take it for a short ride around the block!

How to Lube a Bike Chain

You’re almost done. Washing your bike removes dirt and grime, but it also removes the chain lubricant that keeps your drivetrain from squeaking and creaking. The final step of cleaning your bike is lubing your chain properly. Here’s how:

  1. Move the pedals of your bike backward, squirting a single drop of chain lube on each link. The round pieces in the middle of the chain, called rollers, need to be lubricated for smooth, efficient pedaling.
  2. Next, take a clean rag and hold it lightly on each side of the chain. Continue pedaling backward, and wipe excess chain lube that may have dripped onto the outside of the chain links. (Lube left on the outside of the chain links will only collect dirt.)

Congrats—your bike is clean, lubed, and ready to ride!

How Often Should You Wash Your Bike?

You don’t need to wash your bike every time you ride, but there are a few signs that it’s time to give your bike some attention, including:

  • A dry or squeaking chain
  • Poor shifting between gears
  • Grinding sounds while pedaling
  • Squealing when braking

Cleaning your bike can address these issues and help you identify necessary repairs. Take the opportunity to check your bike’s tire pressure, inspect the brake pads, and consider checking for chain stretch to see if your drivetrain parts need to be replaced. For more information about routine bike maintenance, check resources from your bike manufacturer or your local bike shop.

Related Topic: How to Store Your Bikes Even If the Whole Family Rides

Free Up Your Time to Put in More Cycling Miles This Season

Make the most of great weather and a clean bike by calling on the housekeeping experts at Molly Maid. Our experienced house cleaning teams work with you to create a custom cleaning plan focused on the areas of your home that require more attention. Choose from recurring cleaning or occasional cleaning when you need it! Go ride your bike, but before you head out, request an estimate today.