Bike being washed

How to clean a bike

Even if your bike isn’t caked with mud, we still recommend giving it a clean every so often to keep it in tip top condition. If you are a regular road rider, we recommend cleaning your bike every 25-30 rides or so and if you’re a mountain biker or cross biker, more often.

It might seem like a simple thing to do to clean a bike and whilst that is true, there are certainly ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ when it comes to getting the best clean possible.

Equipment needed for cleaning your bike

hand in bucket of soapy water

  • Clean rags/strips of fabric etc. you could even use old t-shirts
  • A bottle brush or toothbrush
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Long handled scrubbing brush with a small head
  • Buckets x2
  • Garden hose – preferably with a spray head attachment
  • Sponges
  • Degreasing soap – such as Pura-Trol or dish soap
  • Optional extras
    – A bike stand
    – Degreaser
    – Chain Keeper
    – Washing up gloves

Our top ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of bike washing


  • Clean your bike regularly – a well maintained bike will ride better and last longer.
  • Use rags or bottle brushes to floss around chainrings, cogs and all those other hard to reach areas.
  • Recycle and reuse your kitchen sponges – they’re still in perfect condition for bike washing!


  • Simply blast your bike down with a pressure washer or high pressured hose. Water will get into your bearings and degrade them.
  • Use any abrasive sponges or brushes on your frame. You will get scuffs and scratches!
  • Mix up your buckets and tools. The last thing you want is to coat your bike frame in drivetrain grease.


  1. Fill both buckets up with water and a generous amount of dish soap (or diluted Pura-Trol) and have all your cleaning tools to hand.
  2. If you have a bike stand, place your bike into it. If you don’t have a stand, try hanging your bike by its seat over something like a clothesline.
  3. Remove your wheels.
  4. If you have a chain keeper, use this now to stop the chain from folding in on itself/falling off the bike.

The wash

Bike being washed

Step 1: The chain

If you have a degreaser, apply it to the chain and turn the cranks backwards to be sure it is applied on every single link. Leave it for around 5-10 mins and then rinse it off with gentle stream of water from your hose.

Is the chain still a little grimy? You can apply a few drops of dish soap, grip the chain with a sponge and turn the cranks to complete several rotations. Then simply rinse as before.

Step 2: The drivetrain

Grab a stiff bristled brush and dip it into one the buckets of soapy water and scrub the chainrings. For the crevices around the teeth, pulleys and rings we recommend using something like a bottle brush or toothbrush.

Once you’re happy, rinse with a gentle stream of water. If you can see some bits that were missed, simply repeat the process.

Next, you can move onto the cassette on your rear wheel. Simply drip some dish soap onto the cassette, scrub and then rinse. Again, repeat this step as necessary.

bike cassette being brushed

Step 3: The frame

Once you are ready to move onto the frame, dip a clean sponge into your second soap and water bucket. Be sure to suds the frame entirely from front to back and underneath. If your bike has calliper brakes, clean the pads with something like the abrasive side of a kitchen sponge.

Step 4: The wheels

Grab a nice big soft bristled brush for the tyres and rims – that way you can get every little bit done with less effort! Dip it into the same bucket of soapy water that you used for the frame and then starting at the valve to use as a place marker, scrub all the way around the wheel. Be sure to get the spokes and hub and then flip it to get the other side.

Repeat this process on the other wheel and then simply rinse with a gentle stream of water.

Final touches

Once everything has been thoroughly cleaned, reattach your wheels and spin the cranks to make sure the drivetrain is working as it should. Wipe everything down from top to bottom with clean dry cloths and then simply leave it to air dry.

bike chain being oiled

Once dried, give your chain an application of lubricant such as Owatrol Transyl Oil and you are good to go!

We hope you found this post on how to clean a bike helpful. If you have any further tips or advice, please feel free to leave them below. We love hearing from you!

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How to clean a bike - Pinterest

Owatrol Team
About Owatrol Team

Our team are ready and willing to support you with your requirements whether it is protecting your newly laid deck or renovating a luxury yacht, whatever the application Owatrol has the solution you are looking for.

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