How to clean your bike

Nik Cook explains exactly how to clean your bike so it keeps running smoothly


The bad news regarding winter bike maintenance is that you should ideally be giving your bike a wash after every ride. The main reason for this is that the salt and grit that’s liberally sprinkled on the road is a deadly corrosive mix for your bike and its components. Left on your bike for just 24 hours and you’ll be confronted with a rusty, orange horror!


So how do you clean your bike? We’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to give your bike a thorough clean, covering everything from muddy bike frames to greasy drivetrains.

We’ve also put together our selection of the best bike cleaners, which have been selected based on industry knowledge and user reviews.

What you need to clean your bike

The good news is that, by getting into a regular cleaning routine, it only needs to be a five-minute job and will ensure your bike keeps running smoothly and the life of your components is maximised. For a basic five-minute bike wash, you’ll need:

How to clean your bike in eight steps

  1. Spray degreaser onto your drivetrain, working it into the cassette and chainrings with the stiff brush.
  2. Run the chain through liquid degreaser using the chain-cleaning device.
  3. Give the rest of the bike a good going over with the soft brush or sponge and hot soapy water. Avoid the drivetrain as the degreaser is working its magic.
  4. Rinse the whole bike, paying particular attention to the drivetrain, with clean water or a hose.
  5. Dry the frame with the rag.
  6. Spray water dispersant on the drivetrain and run the chain through the rag to remove excess.
  7. Apply lube to the chain, turn the pedals backwards for a few rotations so that it’s evenly dispersed and penetrates the links. Run the chain through the rag again to remove excess.

Top image: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images