If you don’t know how to clean a bike chain with household products, there’s a high chance you have a greasy chain on your bike right now.
Having to ride a bike with a grimy chain isn’t exactly fun. You’ll be at risk of getting your clothes dirty, and it’ll make the cleaning mission harder. Plus, it’s not worth the hassle.
Cleaning the chain is actually much easier than you think. We’ll show you all the steps you need to do to get that chain shiny again.
How to Clean a Bike Chain with Household Products
Step 1: Prepare Your Tools
The first thing you should do is to gather the tools you’ll need and prepare your working space. If you have kids at home, try to keep them away for a while until you’re done. Here are the tools you’ll need:
- Soft cloths
- Protective gloves
- Chain lubricant
- Degreaser or metal cleaner
- Two empty bottles
- Warm water
- Chain checker
- Bike stand
After you get your tools ready, you’ll want to wear your gloves to keep your hands clean from the grease. This is necessary because cleaning grease stains can be a painful ordeal, especially on the skin. If you’re worried about your shoes, too, put on shoe covers to keep them away from harm.
Step 2: Uninstall the Chain
Before going for this step, we recommend that you keep a note of the bike’s assembly steps. You’ll most likely forget which part goes where when you try to reinstall the chain. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can write a note, take a picture, or resort to the bike’s manual if you still have it.
Afterward, place your bike on a stand for easier inspection. It’ll enable you to do a thorough check-up of the bike without having to bend over or sit in uncomfortable positions. Alternatively, you can place the bike upside down.
Next, use a chain checker to make sure your chain doesn’t need to be replaced. Then, you’ll have to look for the master link and remove it to take the chain apart. Here are the steps you’ll do:
- Slide the pin that’s holding the master link out of its slot.
- Slide the chain out through the chainring.
- Keep the nuts and bolts in a safe place for reinstalling.
Step 3: Use a Degreaser
Whether you want to use a degreaser or a metal cleaner is up to you. You can go for whatever you have at your home. A degreaser will clean anything on your chain, even the toughest spots. Meanwhile, the metal cleaner won’t be as effective. You may need to apply a considerable amount to clean all the stains completely.
Alternatively, you can always opt for kerosine, but we recommend against it because things may get too messy. Plus, it has an unpleasant odor, and you’ll have to wear a gas mask while using it to prevent poisoning.
This step goes as follows:
- Fill a bottle with the degreaser.
- Immerse the chain inside and close the lid.
- Shake the bottle vigorously.
- Let it soak for at least 20 minutes.
If you find leftover stains, repeat the process until you’re satisfied with the outcome. You can do it up to three times.
Step 4: Wash the Chain
After the chain is done soaking in the degreaser, take it out using a clamp. You can use any other tool to take it out, but make sure your hand doesn’t touch the liquid. Next, throw the chain in a bottle filled with warm water.
You should now rinse the chain thoroughly until you’re sure it doesn’t have any remaining stains from the degreaser. You can wear a pair of gloves if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.
After you’re sure the chain is clean, dry it with a soft cloth to wipe the loose stains’ rest. Bear in mind that the chain shouldn’t have any moisture before you reinstall it on the bike.
Step 5: Reinstall the Chain
At this point, you’ll have to use the pictures you took of the chain earlier. It’ll help you remember how the chain goes on the bike again. You can also check the bike’s manual for reference.
The first thing you should do is to place the chain on the chainring and run it through the derailleurs. Then, reattach the master link back to its original place. Before placing the pin back in its place, make sure that the chain ends align with the wheels’ midpoint. That way, reconnecting the pin will be much easier.
With the chain in place, run your finger throughout its full length to make sure there aren’t any loose joints. Leaving them can mess with the wheel’s spinning motion because the chain will warp.
Step 6: Lubricate the Chain
After you’re done fastening the chain on the bike, it’s time to lubricate it for smooth rides. For starters, choose a high-quality bicycle lubricant that won’t cause your chain to rust or leave a bad odor.
Hold the lubricant so that you’re ready to squeeze while keeping the bottle’s nozzle hovering over the middle pin. Then, start squeezing gently to avoid splattering around. Let the lubricant go out in a steady stream. Meanwhile, use your other hand to spin the pedals. That way, the chain will rotate, and the lubricant will get to its full length.
After the chain finishes one full spin, it’s supposed to be lubricated well. If you notice it’s still getting stuck at some points, add more lubricant until it makes one smooth cycle.
Now that you know how to clean a bike chain with household products, you should be getting ready for your next ride. The process will only take a couple of hours, but it’ll keep your bike chain clean for a long time.
Not only that, but it’ll also keep the chain intact and preserve it for as long as you have the bike. We hope your next ride will be a fun, smooth one!