If you want your bike to stay in good shape, you need to keep it clean. One question I often hear from bikers is “Can you use kitchen degreaser on a bike?”
A bike is a significant investment and if you have bought a sports-performance one, it could well have cost you thousands of dollars. Therefore, it is important that you keep it maintained and squeaky clean to avoid baked-on grime and corrosion.
As far as kitchen degreasers go, they are good ways to clean a bike. Although there are bicycle degreasers available in the market, a kitchen degreaser can serve you just as well. Dawn dishwashing soap, vinegar, and baking soda solutions are good ways to get rid of grease and gunk on your bike.
In this guide, we will help you find out if you should clean your bike using a kitchen degreaser. We will also let you know about good bike degreasers and how you should degrease your bike to ensure it does not get damaged.
As a bicycle enthusiast, I have been washing my own bike with various types of kitchen degreasers for years. Let me share my thoughts with you.
Difference Between a Degreaser and a Chain Cleaner
Since the chain is one of the most important components of a bike, keeping it clean is of particular concern. You can clean your bike chain with either a degreaser or a chain cleaner.
The main difference between these two types of products is mainly the concentration of the active cleaning agents. Most chain cleaners have the same chemicals found in bike degreasers but at a slightly higher concentration.
Can You Use Any Degreaser on Your Bicycle?
Although there are dozens of varieties of degreasers available in the market, not all of them are very good for your bike. For example, some automotive and citrus-based degreasers (the ones that smell like orange) may be quite concentrated and may strip your chain of all the oil and leave it dry, which can lead to corrosion. In addition, they will also thwart your efforts to re-lube the chain if some of the residue of the degreaser remains on the bike.
This is the reason I advise you to always use mild degreasers to clean your bike.
There are some less-concentrated degreasers that are free of solvents like plant-based or water-based bike cleaners. A good bike cleaner is Muc-Off which does not have harmful chemicals and has mild degreasing abilities that do not strip off all the oils from your bike.
However, my favorite kinds of degreasers are the common household items found in your kitchen.
Dawn Washing Liquid
Since it is made to wash dirty dishes, Dawn is an excellent degreaser for bikes. I have used it plenty of times to wash my bike. The detergent is affordable, can be found at any supermarket, and is very effective for cleaning your bike. If you don’t use Dawn for dishwashing, you can use any standard dish soap to degrease your bike and it will do a good job of it as well.
Baking Soda Solutions
You can also make homemade degreasers from the ingredients found in your kitchen.
To make a baking soda solution, add two tablespoons of baking soda to one teaspoon of hot water in a small bowl and make a paste. If you want to level up its degreasing power, add a few drops of lemon juice to the mixture.
Spread it gently over the grimiest areas of your bike. Spray some vinegar to make the solution bubble so it gets easier to clean.
Vinegar is a highly effective degreaser and stain remover. However, make sure to only use white vinegar.
Place one cup of vinegar and four cups of water in a spray bottle and spray it on the greasy surfaces of your bike. Alternatively, you can also dab a soft cloth in the solutions and wipe your bike with it. The grease should come off with minimal effort.
Let the solutions sit on the bike frame for about 10-20 minutes and then rinse it with water.
Should You Use a Kitchen Degreaser on Your Bike Chain?
To make sure that your bike shifts and accelerates well, it is important that you degrease the chain frequently to get rid of difficult grime. This will lead to a reduced risk of corrosion and will extend the life of your bike chain.
With the right kitchen degreaser, you can easily clean your bike chain in less than half an hour.
Here is how you can degrease your bike chain:
- If you are not familiar with the mechanics of your bike, you should take pictures of the bike chain and the way it is set up before removing it for cleaning.
- Take a kitchen degreaser of your choice and either spray or brush it onto the chain. Depending on the amount of debris on the chain, it can take 10-20 minutes for the degreaser to get the job done right.
- For a deeper degreasing process, you may need to apply the degreaser a second time.
- Use warm water to rinse off the degreaser and grime with ease from the chain.
- Take a rag and rub the chain dry to ensure it is free of moisture before placing it back into your bike.
How Often Should YouUse a Degreaser On Your Bike Chain?
The general rule of the thumb is that you should degrease your bike chain once a month. However, if you take your bike on dirt trails and through mud often, you should degrease it more frequently.
To find out whether your bike chain needs to be degraded, you need to check it first. If the chain is very dirty and slimy and has developed a layer of sludge, it is definitely time to clean it.
Most cyclists who ride regularly would degrease their chain once every week or two or after they have ridden 100 to 200 miles, depending on the terrain and the riding conditions.
Checking your bike chain regularly for gunk will protect the chainring from rust. A clean bike chain will also let you notice any changes to it, including damaged or stretched links.
Do You Need toClean Your Bike Chain After Every Ride?
This question is different from the one above. When we talk about degreasing, we mean a deeper cleaning of the bike. However, when we recommend cleaning your bike chain every day, we mean taking a simple rag and using it to gently wipe the clinging mud off the chain and bike frame. It does not necessarily require any cleaning products with the exception of warm water and some chain lubricant if needed.
To wipe your bike chain, centralize the bike chain on the cassette and then backpedal to run the entirety of the chain through the cloth and ensure all parts of it are clean.
Does Degreaser Damage Bike Paint?
If you use heavy-duty degreasers with harsher chemicals to clean your bike, it will not just strip away the bicycle lubricant but will also chip the paintwork over the long term. That’s why using mild kitchen degreasers is a safe choice.
No matter what type of degreaser you use, however, it is important that you rinse it out after 20 to 30 minutes as prolonged exposure to it may damage the bike paint.
Should You Leave Degreaser On Your Bike Overnight?
There is no point in leaving the degreaser on for hours on end because if the grease doesn’t come out in 20 minutes, there is a small chance it will come out overnight. On the other hand, leaving degreasers for too long can damage the paint as well as the metal framework and chain of the bike.
In short, the effective way to keep your bike clean is to use a smart and effective lube and a daily rub with a wet rag to make sure it does not build up any gunk.
If you do this always, you will only need to use a kitchen degreaser once a month or so. And then, you will have lots of safe options to choose from.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson