How To Clean A Bike Chain With Household Products (7 Easy Steps)

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Cycling is a great exercise with loads of health benefits like improving muscle strength and cardiovascular stamina, decreasing fat and stress among several others.

How To Clean A Bike Chain With Household Products

One of the biggest impediments in cycling is an inefficient chain, which can easily demoralize you. 

The bicycle’s chain performs the all important function of transferring your energy expended on pedaling to rotate the wheels. An inefficient chain leads to wasting your energy. Which puts a ton of extra stress on your body.

It goes without saying that, in order to avoid this excessive pressure on your body, you need to maintain your bicycle chain in a good working condition. 

In this article, I will teach you how to clean a bike chain with household products! The best part is you can do it in less than an hour.

If you follow the 7 simple steps, you won’t need any special equipment and can clean your bike chain using normal household items. 

What's In This Guide?

      1. Put Your Bicycle on Stand

      Putting your bike on a stable stand, so that it doesn’t fall off or move while you’re inspecting it or working on it is very important.

      It’ll ensure that the bicycle remains steady and secured, so that it doesn’t suffer any damage by falling off during the repair work. 

      Preferably, the bike should be placed on a maintenance stand. If you interested in a bike stand check this one out on Amazon.

      The second best option is to set it in an upturned position by balancing it on its handles and seat.

      This will enable you to do a detailed inspection of your bike, clean it up and work on it in a comfortable way. 

      2. Inspection 

      Now that you’ve got your bike in perfect position, carry out a thorough inspection of the chain.

      Check for excessive gunge or dirt that may have got stuck to the grease due to environmental pollution.

      You must clean it; as a rule of thumb you should clean your cycle chain every 200 miles or at least once every 2 weeks. 

      A regular inspection and cleaning of the chain enhances its durability and keeps your cycle running at high efficiency.

      It also brings to your attention, if there’s any likelihood of damage to any links or if the chain is getting excessively stretched. 

      3. Look for the Master Link

      BIke chain master link

      The visual inspection gives you the opportunity to not only check for the grime and dust for cleaning, but it also allows you to check if the chain needs to be replaced.

      This can be effectively done, if you’ve got a ‘chain checker’ (check this one out on Amazon). 

      A master link is a link in your chain that makes it easy to remove and refit the chain. It enables you to clean the chain effortlessly.

      Generally, all cycle chains come fitted with a master link. If you don’t find a master link in your chain, it’s a good idea to get it fitted; it’s just about $15 and is simple to install. 

      4. Clean Utilizing Household Items 

      As I mentioned earlier, you can clean your bicycle chain using everyday items that can be easily found in a normal household.

      However, it doesn’t mean that you can use anything and everything; using something wrong can actually cause damage to your chain.

      A few items that I recommend for cleaning the bike chain are given below; even if you don’t have these in your house, you can get them from the nearest hardware store.

      There are several degreaser solvents available in the market. My personal favorite is the Orange Citrus Degreaser.

      It’s biodegradable and completely natural!

      It not only removes the muck from the chain, but its remnants help in further lubrication. With zero phosphorus and ammonia, it doesn’t damage your cycle parts like other cheap varieties. 

      Shellite is a white spirit based light fuel, which is generally used to clean small amounts of grime from the chain.

      It’s very similar to kerosene, which is normally used for such tasks, but shellite’s low odor makes it my favorite over kerosene.

      It’s not as messy as kerosene and does an excellent job on easily removing all the dirt stuck up in between the joints and links of the chain. 

      In addition to the above lubricants, you’ll need a pair of gloves, some cotton rags, wire cloths hanger and a couple of spray bottles.

      As you can see all the other items except the lubricant can be found in your house itself.

      I highly recommended buying a good quality lubricant, something like the ones mentioned above. Compromising on this item can prove to be highly damaging for your cycle. 

      5. Degrease Your Bike Chain

      Before disturbing the chain, take a few pictures of its original position. It’ll be helpful while refixing or replacing it later.

      Don’t underestimate the importance of doing this, even if you’ve got some experience in removing and refixing the cycle chain. 

      Take some degreaser into a spray bottle and spray all over the chain, allow some time to the degreaser to work before rinsing.

      If there’s still some dirt left, repeat the process. However, if the chain is too greasy and grimy, it’s better to remove it for a thorough cleaning. 

      To remove the chain, slide it out of the sprocket wheel, unlock the master link and pull out the chain gradually through the cycle’s drivetrain.

      Immerse the chain into the degreaser bottle, then close the bottle cap and shake it nicely for a few minutes. If the dirt is too much, leave it in the bottle for up to 20 minutes. 

      Use the hanger’s hook to take out the chain from the degreaser bottle and put it inside the other bottle hot water.

      While the hanger allows you to handle the chain without getting yourself dirty, the hot water bath removes all the grease as well as the degreaser from the chain.

      Finally, using the cotton rag, wipe the chain completely dry. 

      6. Put the Chain Back on the Cycle Drivetrain 

      Derailleur drive chain

      Before putting back the chain on the cycle, ensure that it’s completely moisture free.

      The utility of the picture that you took before disturbing the chain will come in handy at this point. You may also watch an online tutorial for more help. 

      Once the chain is put on the drivetrain, fix the master link back in its position.

      Keeping the chain ends at the midpoint between the wheels makes this task simpler.

      Finally, complete the connection by sliding the master link’s pin in position. It should be checked for proper connection by running your fingers because an incorrect or loose joint can cause it to buckle, thereby damaging the cycle. 

      7. Lubrication 

      The final step in this procedure is to lubricate your bicycle chain.

      It’s important to use a high quality lubricant so that there are no frictional losses.

      It also helps in protecting the other parts of the cycle. If you use a substandard lubricant, you may end up damaging your cycle. 

      The best way to carry out lubrication is to place the lube bottle at midpoint of the chain and squeeze gently to maintain a steady stream onto the chain.

      As the lube starts falling on the chain, rotate it by pedaling gradually with the other hand. Continue till you’ve lubricated the entire chain.

      Now you’re ready to cycle your way to a healthy you! 

      Photo of author
      Bryan Ray is the Co-Founder of The Biking Apex. He's a cyclist and a trainer who loves fitness and loves to teach people how to ride and maintain their bikes and bike accessories.

      The Biking Apex

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