How To Clean Bike Chain (Quick Steps)

As stated, keeping your chain clean is crucial for maintaining the performance of the finest road bike groupsets. A filthy chain will slow you down. We'll explain how to clean a bike chain in this article and the importance of doing so.

Should You Clean Your Bike Chain?

Should You Clean Your Bike Chain

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The obvious conclusion is that a clean chain moves more quickly than a filthy chain but by how much? Several testing methods have shown an average loss of one to two percent in power at a modest 250w output, depending on the chain and its state of cleanliness. 

Friction losses, which may drain an extra three to five watts compared to a clean chain, are the main cause of the discrepancy. And that's just a couple of road rides later.

Naturally, friction increases with chain cleanliness, and as a result, power output losses increase. A chain covered in muck, common in cyclocross and mountain biking, may reduce your power output by three to five percent.

It's crucial to keep in mind that your bike chain has an impact on more than simply your economy and power output. Also, when your chain travels through the drivetrain, it passes through various chainrings, catchers, cassette sprockets, and derailleur pulleys. 

A filthy chain may damage your drivetrain and your power measurements, making maintaining cleanliness more crucial than ever, given the worldwide lack of bicycles and parts.

Hopefully, by this point, you've recognized the importance of maintaining a clean chain for your bike's speed and lifespan. What is the most effective approach to keeping it clean, then?

Your bike chain may be cleaned in one of two ways: by taking it off the bike or by keeping it in place.

How To Properly Clean The Bike Chain

How To Properly Clean The Bike Chain

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You don't need much time or a specialized workshop for thorough bike cleaning.

Step 1: Start using the chain cleaning tool

Start by adding the recommended quantity of degreaser to the chain-cleaning tool and affixing it to the bottom section, about in the center between the lower jockey wheel and chainrings.

After it is fastened, keep it there while turning the cranks backward to get the chain moving through the apparatus. Count between 30 and 40 pedal rotations. Examine the chain to see how it appears.

If the chain is particularly filthy and requires extra cleaning, keep rotating the pedal. If the filth is difficult to remove, add more fresh degreaser to the chain cleaner.

Step 2: Clean your teeth (and jockey wheels)

Scrub and agitate the dirt throughout the drivetrain using a degreaser and a stiff brush, giving close attention to all the cassette sprockets, rear mech, jockey wheels, and chainring teeth - essentially everything that moves.

Using a common bike cleaning spray or dirt remover (note: this is not a degreaser! Degreasers are used to remove oil and grease from chains, while standard bike cleaning sprays serve to aid in the breakdown of road filth and dirt. At this point, the latter (which cannot adequately clean a chain) may also assist with the outside components.

Step 3: Rinse once more

With thorough cleaning, it will likely be a total disaster. But don't worry! It is time to wash it away, spreading the dirt with the sponge and hot, soapy water.

This is a crucial action to take. Be sure to wash and rinse the chain and other parts completely with hot, soapy water.

If you have one, although it is not required, you may also use a hosepipe at this point, but be careful to keep the water pressure low so that you don't push water past your bearing seals.

The easiest approach to finish is to give the area one more rinse with clean water to ensure that all of the degreasers have been flushed away. If any degreaser is still there, it will start to act on any fresh chain lube you apply and quickly transform it into a disgusting black sludge (a mistake many often make).

Step 4: Reapply lube after drying

Dry the chain completely. A good place to start is by rapidly turning the cranks, which will force water out of the links. Here, a decent microfiber cloth works well. An old t-shirt will work, but not as well.

It's a good idea to leave the bike in the sun to dry naturally for a short period if it's a warm sunny day.

Apply fresh chain lubricant when you're certain everything is spotlessly clean and completely dry. Avoid over-applying; it's a classic error to do so. Instead, use it sparingly yet often.

Your chain will last longer if you clean it often and keep it topped up with new lubricant, saving you a lot of money.

It will take just a little work if you clean your chain after each ride (and after every dirty/wet ride). If you let piles of filth and mess accumulate, cleaning it will be much more difficult, and it may never be free of muck. You should buy the best bike chain cleaner to clean better. 

Consider this: If you don't consistently brush your teeth, you'll get dental problems quickly. Same with dirty drivetrains. They are expensive to repair and don't last very long.

A quick five-minute clean may prevent all of that.

Issues To Look Out For While Cleaning

  • Strong Links

These links are no longer smoothly bending. Watch each link of your chain as it travels through the narrow bends of your rear derailleur to identify them as you carefully pedal your chain backward.

Most are brought on by corrosion or debris between link plates, which may be remedied with cleaning, lubrication, and a little back-and-forth flexing. Others are caused by damaged chains or poor pin installation (the pin holding the chain links together is improperly inserted through the links and rollers). 

When link pins are improperly fitted, they may be moved back and forth within their chain plates using a chain tool or your hands. Chains that are broken need to be entirely replaced.

  • Chain Extend

Chains lengthen as they deteriorate. Stretch is the term used to describe something, yet nothing stretches. Chains become longer when the link pins and rollers wear down. In certain circumstances, this results in gear "skipping" due to slop or free play. Your chainrings and back cog teeth experience more wear and strain.

A chain may be replaced for much less money than a gear set. Use a chain wear indicator tool to determine if your chain needs to be replaced since it is so worn.

Top 5 Techniques For Cleaning Your Bike Chain

The Top 5 Techniques For Cleaning Your Bike Chain

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Maintaining a clean chain line may be difficult, particularly while riding in the winter or inclement weather.

These are our best recommendations for a tidy chain line!

1. Use a high-quality lubricant

Good chain lube is effective. Your chain line will remain as clean as possible if you use a renowned brand like Finish Line.

2. Strive to avoid unfavorable circumstances

You'll acquire a filthy chain if you ride in bad weather. Your chain line has little control over how much road debris and dirt will be kicked up.

3. Regularly clean the chain

Linkrevires advises washing your bike after every ride if you want a flawless chain line.

Remember that you must reapply, degrease and lubricate after each clean. If you're serious about maintaining your bike, it's a difficult, worthwhile job.

4. Avoid muddy roads

Indeed, only road cycling is affected by this.

Avoid the unkempt roads while riding the bike if you desire a tidy chain line. I like to clean up after, but if you're pressed for time, stick to the routes with the cleanest asphalt and the fewest dangers.

5. Steer clear of sand at all costs

There are many videos of individuals riding bikes on beaches that you can see on YouTube and Instagram, which may encourage you to try.

The worst thing for a chain is sand, and a few trips to the beach are all it takes to damage and cover it in muck completely!


Can WD-40 be used on a bike chain?

WD-40 is a fantastic water-based chain lubricant for bicycles that lubricates the chain excellently and prevents rust and corrosion. Also, it lessens the buildup of filth, which lessens the chain's wear and strain.

Can you wash the chain on your bike?

Both a clean and well-oiled chain are essential. Chains should ideally be fully cleaned after every ride. Even a brief wipe with a clean towel may significantly impact, but sadly, only a few of us have the time to do this.

Can I clean my bike chain with dish soap?

Use hot water, dish soap, a solvent, or a degreaser to remove grease. Step 2 Insert the bike chain that was removed into the pan or plastic container. Let the chain soak for a minute or two. Step 3: Take the chain out of the cleaning agent.

Should I clean the chain on my bike after each ride?

If you often ride in damp, snowy, salty, or where there is more dirt, particularly sand, you should lubricate and clean your chain after each ride. Choose dry or Teflon-based lubes when riding in dusty or sandy circumstances since they don't draw as much abrasive dirt and sand as oil-based lube.

What happens if your bike chain needs to be cleaned?

Dry substances like sand and grit quickly destroy metallic and composite components. If you don't maintain your chain, your drivetrain's other components will quickly deteriorate, shortening the bike's lifespan.


You must maintain a spotless chain on your bicycle, lock them up with the best chain lock for bike if necessary. If a chain is destroyed, it may skip or act differently. Your gears may change smoothly if the chain has enough rust or other debris. You now know how to clean a bike chain, so don't worry.

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