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How to clean your bike chain: complete guide

How to clean your bike chain: complete guide

If you are a cycling enthusiast, you know how important it is to keep your bicycle in tip-top condition to ensure high performance and safe riding. Among the various parts of the bike, the chain plays a crucial role in transferring power from the pedal to the rear wheel. Cleaning your chain regularly not only extends its life but also improves your riding experience. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the steps needed to keep your bike chain in tip-top condition.

What to do before cleaning your bike chain

Before starting the process of cleaning your bike chain, it is important to prepare properly to ensure an effective and safe job. Here's what to do before you start cleaning:


Gather the Necessary Materials:

Make sure you have all the necessary tools and products. These include bicycle degreaser, stiff brush, clean cloth, tire changer, socket wrench and chain lube. Make sure everything is within reach to avoid interruptions during the cleaning process.


Place the Bicycle in a Safe Place:

Place your bicycle in a safe position. You can lift it off the ground using a special stand or place it stably so that it does not fall during cleaning. This makes work more comfortable and reduces the risk of damage to the bike or yourself.


Check the Chain Status:

Before starting cleaning, inspect the chain for any damage or wear. If there are no significant problems, you may need to take action beyond cleaning, such as replacing damaged parts.


Raise the Rear Wheel or Remove the Chain (Optional):

If you want a more thorough cleaning, you can lift the rear wheel or remove the chain using the tire changer and socket wrench. This makes it easier to access every part of the chain.


Check previous cleaning and lubrication:

Check if you have previously cleaned and lubricated the chain. If it's been a while since your last maintenance, more in-depth work may be necessary.


Proper preparation before cleaning your bike chain will help simplify the process and ensure effective and safe cleaning, prolonging the life of the chain and improving the overall performance of your bike.

How to clean your bike chain: step by step instructions

Necessary Materials:


  • Bicycle degreaser
  • Hard bristle brush
  • Clean water
  • Dry cloth
  • Fine grain sandpaper
  • Anti-rust chain lubricant




  • Inspection: Locate rusty spots on the chain.

  • Degreasing: Apply the specific degreaser, focusing on the rusty areas. Let it act.

  • Brushing: Scrub the chain with the stiff bristle brush, focusing on the rusty areas.

  • Rinsing: Rinse the chain with clean water.

  • Drying: Dry the chain completely with a cloth.

  • Sandpaper (If Necessary): Gently sand rusted surfaces with fine-grit sandpaper.

  • Anti-Rust Lubrication: Apply anti-rust lubricant to each ring. Let it act.

  • Reassemble the Chain: If removed, reassemble it correctly.

  • Final Inspection: Check for rust removal, ensure chain tension and lubrication.


Follow these steps to keep your chain free from rust, extending the life of your bike and improving performance. Repeat the process regularly.

Things not to do when cleaning your bike chain

Cleaning your bike chain is an important step in maintenance, but it is equally crucial to avoid certain practices that could damage the chain or compromise the performance of the bicycle. Here are some things not to do:


Use Unsuitable or Too Aggressive Detergents

Using detergents not specifically designed for cleaning bicycle chains can damage the components and the frame. Products such as Chanteclair or other cleaners must be carefully selected and tested to ensure compatibility with metal surfaces without causing damage or accelerating rust.


Avoid the use of petrol for cleaning

Absolutely avoid using petrol to clean the bike chain. Gasoline can strip lubricant, cause damage to components and pose a safety risk due to its flammability. The use of aggressive solvents such as petrol can compromise the structural integrity of the chain and frame.

Choosing appropriate cleaners is critical to keeping your bike chain in optimal condition, while preserving the integrity of the components and frame. Opting for bicycle-specific products will help ensure effective cleaning without risk of damage.


Do Not Use High Pressure Water:

Avoid using pressure washers or high-pressure water jets directly on the chain. This could force water into internal components and accelerate rust.


Don't Neglect Lubrication After Cleaning:

After cleaning, don't neglect applying lubricant to the chain. A well-lubricated chain reduces friction and wear.


Don't Skip the Drying Step:

Be sure to dry the chain completely after cleaning. Residual moisture can accelerate rust formation.


Don't Lubricate the Dirty Chain:

Avoid applying lubricant to a dirty chain. Lubrication will trap dirt, forming a harmful abrasive mixture.


Don't Force the Chain:

Avoid forcing the chain when cleaning. Excessive use of force can cause damage to the joints and rings.


Don't Ignore Chain Tension:

Don't ignore chain tension when cleaning. A chain that is too tight or too loose can compromise the performance of the bike.


Not Reassembling the Chain Correctly:

If you removed the chain, make sure you reinstall it correctly. A poorly fitted chain can cause shifting problems and inadequate performance.


By following these precautions, you can ensure effective cleaning of your bike chain without compromising its structural integrity or overall performance.

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