Can You Use Simple Green To Clean Bike Chain? | PedalChef

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A clogged bike chain can keep you from cycling smoothly, while a dirty chain exterior can stain your pants around the ankles.

If you use Simple Green products at home, one of your first instincts after noticing a dirty bike might be to use Simple Green to clean the bike. But will that harm the bike?

You can use Simple Green to clean the bike chain as long as the Simple Green solution contains 50% or more water or a neutral diluent. A concentrated cleaner can be harmful to some bike chains, so diluting the solution before cleaning the chain is crucial.

In this article, you will learn about two ways to clean a bike chain with Simple Green alongside their respective pros and cons. You will also discover if Simple Green is the best method for cleaning and relatively safer alternatives.

This post also contains the best practices of bike chain cleaning in general derived from a sample of 15 accounts of using various cleaners and cleaning methods. It also goes over what the manufacturer of Simple Green has to say about cleaning bike chains with its products.



How to Clean a Bike Chain with Simple Green?

You can clean the bike chain while it is in place or remove and soak it in a container full of Simple Green. The dirtier the bike is, the longer you need to soak it in Simple Green to get rid of the grime and dirt on it.

There are advantages and drawbacks to both cleaning methods. Before you pick one, you need to be aware of the benefits and limitations of your chosen method.

The advantage of using a rag to wipe a chain while it is in place is that you don't need to know how to remove or reinstall a bike chain. It is pretty easy to do this. But the drawback is significant: the internal areas of the bike chain remain unclean.

If you remove the chain, you can clean it really well by soaking it in Simple Green. However, this method requires more effort. Still, it remains the main method of cleaning a chain with Simple Green, so we will explore its specific steps in this chapter.

Step 1 - Choose a Container

Any plastic container works as the medium in which Simple Green can be diluted using water. The size and shape matter because the container must have just enough width to allow the bike chain to be laid flat in it. It should also have enough breadth to submerge the chain in liquid. A tray that is 3 inches high and 10 inches wide is more than sufficient. You can also use a regular baking bowl for this, but it will use a lot more Simple Green.

Step 2 - Fill Almost Half the Container with Simple Green

You should fill the container up to 45% or even 49%. This leaves enough room to add water for dilution without making water spill over. Err on the side of less, but don't go any lower than 40% as this can leave less liquid overall for the chain to soak in. It is okay to use estimates here.

Step 3 - Pour an Equal Amount of Water

This is an essential step to reduce the 'bite' of the cleaner. The hand-spray variety, Simple Green, is already formulated to be applied more directly, but the pour variety is stronger. Pour at least as much water into the bowl as the solution. Here, you should err on the side of more.

Step 4 - Remove the Bike Chain and Soak It

You should have the bowl with the solution nearby when you remove the bike chain. The main reason for the solution being prepared beforehand is to ensure that the chain doesn't rest on a dry surface. Placing it on the ground would make dirt stick to its greasy exterior. You must remove it and dump it directly into the solution.

This video covers how you can remove a bike chain:

Step 5 - Keep the Chain in the Solution for 5 Minutes

This step requires no action. You just need to wait at least 5 minutes before taking the chain out. If you're wondering whether you can keep the chain in the container overnight, the answer is no. You have to get it out within 7 minutes at maximum.

The longer you expose the chain to the Simple Green, the more you risk hydrogen embrittlement of the metal. The chain can start cracking with prolonged exposure to concentrated (and even diluted) Simple Green. Here it is better to err on the side of waiting less. At 5 minutes, even according to the manufacturer, the bike chain is safe in diluted Simple Green.

Step 6 - Wipe the Bike Chain

At this point, you must take the bike chain out of the solution and wipe it dry with an absorbent rag. It is better to rinse it with water before drying it because of the adverse impact leftover Simple Green might have on the chain.

Step 7 - Put the Chain Back on the Bike

The final step is to place the chain back in place where it belongs. As long as you've followed the previous steps properly, this is the last time you will need to think about cleaning your bike chain for a while.

How to Wipe Your Bike Chain Clean?

As mentioned earlier, a low-effort way to clean a bike chain is to wipe it with Simple Green. Here are the steps you can take to do that:

Step 1 - Take mix 50% Simple Green and 50% water in a small container

Step 2 - Take a clean absorbent rag and dip it in the solution

Step 3 - Use the rag to wipe any superficial dirt on the bike chain

Step 4 - Wash the chain surface with water

Step 5 - Use a dry rag to wipe the chain clean

Bike Chain Cleaning Solutions

Now that you know how to use Simple Green to clean a bike chain let's consider if it is the best option for cleaning. While Simple Green can be used to clean a bike chain, it is not the best product for cleaning metal products, including bike chains. The cleaner itself is corrosive, and water, too, can harm metals. Kerosene is a better cleaner for a clogged bike chain.

Since the all-purpose Simple Green can pose a risk to the integrity of your bike chain, you should use safer bike chain cleaning products like the following:

  • Finish Line EcoTech Bike Chain Degreaser - This is the most convenient option as it is an aerosol spray formulated specifically for bike chains. You don't have to adjust proportions to make it chain-friendly.
  • CB-4 Bio Chainbrite Bicycle Chain & Component Cleaning Fluid - Backed by ParkTool, this chain cleaning fluid is Amazon's choice for its category of bike component cleaners, and for a good reason. It is 100% biodegradable and has an overwhelming number of positive reviews.
  • WD-40 Specialist Bike Chain Lube - WD-40 is a well-established brand in lubrication and degreasing space. Its specialist product formulated for bike chains is diluted without water to make it safe for metals.
  • Finish Line 1-Step Cleaner and Lubricant - This apply-and-wipe cleaner makes cleaning your bike chain easier. It can also be used for gears and other components as lube or as a cleaning solution.