How to Clean a Bike Chain with Household Products

Wondering How to Clean a Bike Chain with Household Products?

You have tried mountain bike chain lube and maintained a perfect lubrication scheme to keep things going well. Also, you don’t mind investing in a proper air compressor for bike tires to make your rides smooth.

But now, when you are planning to do something about the regular cleaning of your chain, you’re wondering whether your already existing household products can be an alternative to another purchase for a store-bought cleaner. Well, it is possible to some extent! There are several items available at your home that can play the role of a cleaner.

And so, I decided to provide the entire process of how you can clean a bike chain with household products and talk about the whole thing a bit today. Hope It Helps!

How to Clean a Bike Chain with Household Products

Before You Try to Clean a Bike Chain with Household Products.

The very first thing that you should consider doing is deciding your cleaning agent for this process. Since we are excusing those bike-specific chain cleaners that are formulated professionally, it should be a household item.

Some like to clean bike chain with dish soap only and that’s completely fine. Now do keep in mind that you are not going to use baking soda types of solutions to get your vulnerable condition chain back to work.

When I say household products here, it’s referring to those items that are generally used to clean not just bike chains but other home items as well. And so, you will still need to use a degreaser product (or at least something that works as a solid alternative) as well as a lubricant solution after cleaning the chain with a basic soap. Here are a few examples of what you can use as chain degreasers and lubes:

  • Multi-Surface Cleaners.
  • Green All-Purpose Cleaners.
  • Oven Cleaners.
  • WD-40 Bike Lubes.

Keep Your Bike Securely on a Stand.

Some people simply use the side kickstand to keep their bikes in place before starting cleanup process. But it’s still not enough to keep things stable and secure. Imagine what a bump or jostle can do in such a hold. Instead of that, try to utilize a proper bike stand if possible. Or maybe a wall can help, you just simply need to lean the bike against it.

Inspecting The Chain Condition.

Before cleaning, you should also consider how much dirt needs to be dealt with. Also, if you are a serious cyclist, you should check the chains every week anyways.

If there’s too much dirt and grit that regular soap cannot handle (probably when users don’t remember last when they cleaned the chain) then stop this agenda of household product at this point and consider using a serious bike chain cleaner.

However, if things are not yet that bad, continue with the process. Also, if you are planning to remove the chain for a deeper cleaning, then take a few pictures beforehand. In case you get confused later on how things fit back. The pictures will help as a further reference if such a thing happens.

Get Into Cleaning the Chain.

cleaning bike chain

For this process that I’m going to share, you’ll need mostly household items except for the chain lubricant. These are a clean fabric or rag, isopropyl alcohol, a bottle, wire clothes hanger, and regular working gloves.

Start by taking some isopropyl alcohol on the cleaning rag that you got. And then use it for holding around the chain. You want to gradually pedal at this point. Make sure it’s pedaling forward.

This helps in cleaning the chain properly. Now if you are here to figure out how to clean bike chain without degreaser then you can stop the process and directly jump to the lubrication step to finish things off. But in case chain needs further cleaning, follow the next steps as well.

Breaking Down All the Excessive Dirt.

You need another dry and clean rag. This time apply some degreaser on it. And use the rag to clean chain. If you need to go for a deeper clean, use a bottle. Simply put the chain inside and these two sessions of degreasing will help in breaking down plus getting rid of all the excess dirt and grimes.

Look for the master link to open it. There should be a pin that you need to slide for pulling the chain out from the drivetrain carefully. By taking the chain out you will be able to clean it even better. However, keep two things in mind when removing the chain:

  1. Always go for gentle pressure and also it should be firm enough to get chain out of the drivetrain.
  2. Don’t apply too much force for almost tearing the chain as it can also damage bike.

Now that you have the chain out, put it inside the degreaser bottle. And shake the bottle a few times. This will work excellently to break down that stubborn piled dirt that is fixed with the chain. Also, if you are wondering how to clean rusty bike chains then this is the way to go for. After shaking, let it soak inside the bottle for at least twenty minutes.

Usually, with degreasing, the factory from the chain will be eliminated. This is why you must consider lubrication.

Those who are desperate to avoid using a degreaser at all costs can go with some other items, but keep in mind those won’t be enough strong as well as fast to act. Some bike chain degreaser alternatives are kerosene, paint thinner, and also isopropyl alcohol that we used in the earlier step.

Back to DriveTrain & Connecting Master Link.

Time to use the coat hanger for simply hooking the chain on it. Get a dry rag and give it a good rub. So that there’s no residue of degreaser left. You should use your hand pressure at this step to slide the rub.

Depending on which bike series you own. The detaching as well as reattaching process of chain to drivetrain can be different. This is why I told you to take pictures before removing them. You can also refer to the provided bike manual that will have clear notes on it.

The bike chain’s end should meet with middle point of wheels. This is usually the part where one connects the master link. You want to lay as well as thread the bike chain within drivetrain. And while doing so make sure one of the ends is reaching either bottom or top of the middle point that is between wheels.

Lubrication is a Must If You Degreased for a Long Time

This step also helps in keeping your bike rides as smooth as possible. Basically, hold the lubricant bottle right above the top-middle part of a chain. You want to squeeze the bottle so that a steady thin consistency starts to come out. At the same time, pedal with slow hands. So that the entire chain can be lubricated thoroughly.

Finally, you have your clean bike chain that doesn’t make any weird noise and also is perfectly ready for the next road adventure.

How To Get A Perfectly Clean Chain

Wrapping Up

After reading all of that, how do you feel about cleaning a bike chain with household products? It’s definitely worth giving a try, so do that and then decide.

Also, keeping the chain clean isn’t something a bike owner does for aesthetic purposes. A dirty chain can be affecting the whole performance of your bike. And that can be holding it back from living a prolonged life. Plus, the annoying noise that it starts making after accumulating grease and dirt. So, for sure, never keep the need to get your bike chains cleaned unattended.