How To Clean A Bike Chain With Household Products? This question is one that we’ve been asked multiple times, so we’ll show you exactly how to get a perfectly clean chain at home.
The bike chain is among the most important components of your bicycle, and it’s also one that needs the most care. A dirty, rusty, or poorly lubricated chain can make your ride less enjoyable and more strenuous. If you don’t clean and maintain it regularly, it will start to wear out more quickly. Most people tend to ignore this simple thing while owning a bike.
Luckily for you, you’ve found this article.
We’ll share the seven (7) simple steps and the right household products to use to clean your chain. With these easy-to-follow steps, you’ll be able to keep your bike running smoothly for years!
But before we go into the steps to clean your chain, there are a few items you’ll need that we’ll go over below:
How To Clean A Bike Chain With Household Products
Before we go into the steps to clean your chain, there are a few items you’ll need that we’ll go over below:
What Household Items are needed to Clean a Bike Chain?
For any job, one of the first things to consider is finding and putting together the right tools. Doing so will make it much easier to make your task go smoother and quicker.
So, what household products can you use for cleaning a bicycle chain? Here are few items that work which we feel most people should have lying around their house:
- Bike Stand – Having a bike stand isn’t a must, but it will be great to help you clean your bike chain. The bike stand will act as your partner to hold your bike up for you so you can simply focus on cleaning the chain without the bike shifting around.
- Old Toothbrush- You’ll need an old or even a new toothbrush to help clean the bike chain since it will need to be scrubbed clean.
- Dry Rag – A dry rag is important when cleaning a bike chain because it can be used to wipe away any excess lubricant is left on the bike chain. If you don’t have a rag, you can use an old newspaper or paper towel.
- A Pan or Old Blanket – If you want your floor to stay clean, use a pan below the chain or put a blanket down. Simply keep the pan below the section of the chain you are cleaning or spread the old blanket below your bike, so you don’t have to worry about grease drops.
- Gloves – If you hate getting your hands dirty, you can consider wearing gloves when cleaning your bike chain. However, it isn’t necessary as you can simply wash your hands with a little soap to clean them afterward.
- Baking Soda + Vinegar – Baking soda can act as an abrasive material to help remove any grease. When mixed with vinegar, it becomes one of the best natural degreasers you can find.
- Dish Soap – Dish soap can help you clean a bike chain easily because it can act as a degreaser to remove grease.
- Rubbing Alcohol – If you have a chain that has rusted over time, alcohol may help dissolve some of it and make cleaning easier.
- Household Cleaners – A household cleaner like 409 or other powerful cleaners with similar ingredients will get rid of dirt and grime very
- WD-40, Kerosene, Turpentine* – These are very good bike chain cleaners because they easily remove dirt and grime better than dish soap or detergent.
- Bike Degreaser – If you have a bike-specific degreaser, that is the best. But if not, you could use any household decrease to clean your bike chain, and it will work. This will make it much easier to clean your bike chain at home without as many household items.
Steps to Clean A Bike Chain With Household Products
Following the steps below, you can clean your bike chain with household products.
Step 1 – Put your Bike on the Bicycle Stand or Lean it on a Wall
It is advantageous to have the bike secured on a bike stand for safety and ease of inspection while you’re working on it. Using a bike stand also prevents your bike from wobbling and falling to the ground, which could cause damage.
It is best to use a bicycle stand for bike maintenance. But if you don’t have one, rest your bike on its seat and handlebars. Once you’ve either set the bike on the bicycle stand or turned it on the seat and handlebar, you’ll want to do an inspection of the chain.
Step 2 – Remove the Chain
The next step that we highly recommend is to remove the bike chain. If you can’t remove the chain, I suggest moving on to the next step and cleaning it while still on the bike. There aren’t any serious risks to cleaning it on the bike apart from it being a little more work.
Why do you need to remove the bike chain to clean it?
The bike chain generates a lot of dirt and grime. And even if you used household products, some of them will get embedded into the links and not come out unless you take off the chain so that they can be cleaned thoroughly.
How to Remove a Bike Chain?
There are multiple ways to remove a bicycle chain. First, you need to find the master link that is usually very easy to identify as it will be the only link that looks different. When you have found the master link, use a bike link plier or a smaller plier that can fit in between the master link to remove it.
If that doesn’t work, then just move on; you will need to split the chain using a chain breaker tool. Or follow the steps in the video below:
Step 3 – Grab your Tools
At this point, you’ll need the other items that we suggested earlier. So grab your gloves, old toothbrush, pan or blanket, rag, degreaser(use wd-40 or household degreaser).
Step 4 – Start Degreasing
Degreasing the bike chain will help remove any rust, stubborn grease, dirt, and grime. You can use any available household degreaser such as baking soda and vinegar, dish soap, or bathroom cleaner that contains detergent. If you want the best result in less time, I highly recommend using kerosene or turpentine. However, you will need to use these in a well-ventilated space, preferably outdoors.
If you managed to get the chain off, go ahead and place it in the pan you have available and spray or soak it in the degreaser for about 20 minutes. If you didn’t get it off, just spray it while it’s on the bike. At the same time, you’ll want to inspect your chainring and derailleur for grease and give them a little attention too.
After degreasing for 20 minutes, I suggest giving it a rinse then reapplying the degreaser before moving on to the next step.
Step 5 – Cleaning the Chain
Once you’ve soaked or sprayed the chain in your available degreaser and it has been sitting for a while, you can now go ahead and start the cleaning process.
This part is labor-intensive and requires a lot of care to ensure that your chain is fully cleaned.
Take the toothbrush you’ve found, scrub every link and your chainring thoroughly, and then rinse and repeat until perfectly cleaned.
Step 6 – Putting it Back Together
At this point, you should now have a clean bike chain so you can go ahead and reverse the steps you took to remove the chain.
Step 7 – Lubricating
Your bike chain is made up of many small metal parts that need to move smoothly. When the bike chain moves around the gears, there should be no friction which you will have if it isn’t lubricated. So after you clean the chain, you should apply a lubricant. This will help to protect your bike from damage or wear.
Step 8 – Testing
Now that you’re all done, you should make a few revolutions of the pedals to see if everything is running smoothly.
Is there an easier way to clean your bike chain?
The easiest way to clean your bike chain is to use a chain bath scrubber tool. If you don’t want to spend 30 minutes to an hour cleaning your chain, you may also opt to use this method. It’s much faster and requires way less effort. Furthermore, you won’t need to remove the chain from the bike.
With a chain bath tool, all you’ll need to do to clean your bike chain is to wrap the chain around it. The tool will hold your bike’s chain in place while you pour the household degreaser into the top reservoir. Then just backpedal your chain through for a few minutes, and it will be clean.
After that, you just need to lubricate the chain.
Cleaning your bike chain is an important part of keeping it in good condition and extending its lifespan. You can clean a bike chain by using household products. All you’ll need to have is some form of degreaser and an excellent lubricant. You also need to know how to remove and return the chain.
The best way to make cleaning a chain at home easier is with a Chain Bath Tool that will do all this for you quickly! But whichever way you opt for, you’ll have a cleaned chain in minutes!
Last Updated on October 14, 2023 by Daniel White