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  1. #1
    nimble biker
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    Is it safe to use liquid dish detergent to wash chains & cassette ?

    Is it safe to use liquid dish detergent to wash chains & cassette ?

    has anyone use detergent to wash chains ?

  2. #2
    squish is good
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    I've done it but I don't recommend it. Lets too much water get into the tight parts of the links. I've gotten away with it but found just soaking the chain in lube and giving it a good wipe down with a rag cleans it good enough and no risk of rusting.
    Bike good, work bad.

  3. #3
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    I asked my LBS about cleaning the chain and cassette, and they basically told me that detergent wasn't strong enough for degreasing it. They said you could use white spirit, but just be careful that you don't let it stay to long on your frame if you spill it. Then you should just re-lube your chain.
    Last edited by Innota; 04-14-2012 at 02:08 AM. Reason: Typos.

  4. #4
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    I use special chain degreaser. I found spirits or petrol to be to aggressive. The special cleaner keeps the chain somewhat lubed after cleaning. Loads of water to wash out and then dry with air compressor.
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  5. #5
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    ive been using water based products for decades and have never had issues with water getting into the "tight parts of the links". I have quick links on all my chains and remove the chain to wash.

    After washing, ill just lay it in the sun for a couple of hours, then lube. Not a spot of rust on my chain. Ever.

    Just dont let it sit around for a couple of weeks prior to lubing it and youll be perfectly fine.

  6. #6
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    I agree with the poster above. I live in a place with a LOT of dust and I need to clean my chain at least every other ride. I usually just hose off the cassette (or use a specially purchased toilet brush), but to clean the chain I take it off (using KMC quick links). I live in China, and it seems like our dishwashing detergent here is stronger here than in the US. I put 2-3 tablespoons in the bucket, put the chain in the bucket, and fill it with very hot water to about the level of the chain (1/2 inch or so). Then I slosh the chain around for a few minutes and rinse it. Chain comes out very clean. I hang it and let it dry, maybe overnight, and then when I know it's dry I put it back on and re-lube it. Haven't been doing this long, but it seems to work very well, especially if you use thin oil for lube.

  7. #7
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    If nothing ejse is available, go for it. I do prefer dedicated solvents though. They work better, faster, and don't add the possibility of corrosion. I also like to use Prolink lube between cleanings. It flushes a lot of gonk out and lubes at the same time. Just remember to wipe the chain down after EVERY lube. That will decrease gunk buildup on the chain and increase the number of miles before you have to really scrub it again.
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  8. #8
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    ProLink and one of those clamp on chain cleaners is all I use.
    It completely cleans and lubes the chain and literally takes less than a minute.
    The chain comes out completely spotless and the ProLink dries completely.
    I just can't understand why people make such a big deal over such a simple thing like
    chain cleaning and lubing.
    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
    Lenny

  9. #9
    local trails rider
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    For "everyday" bike cleaning, I use the same stuff on the drive train as the rest of the bike: water with a little dish washing detergent. I don't expect it to degrease everything: just to get rid of the dust, mud, grass, or pine needles on the surface.

    That is followed by plain water and drying in the sun (assuming the sun is shining...), followed by chain lube on the chain. Wipe off the excess lube.

    If parts need a more thorough cleaning, a real degreaser is needed.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  10. #10
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    Think "phosphate friendly".
    Phosphates and ferrous metals don't get along.
    Your fear of looking stupid is holding you back.

  11. #11
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    I use white spirit and let it soak for a few hours. Airdry and then acetone wash. On the cassette I use nothing, I just disassemble all the cogs and wipe them clean. However you can get away with just wiping the chain down and put more oil on it.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

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  12. #12
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    Maybe twice during the chains life, I'll pull the chain and feed it through the neck of a bottle filled with Simple Green. Let it soak; then shake; then soak; then shake. Flush with water, then blow out the water with compressed air. Then oil. I like T9 Boeshield.
    Ripping trails and tipping ales

  13. #13
    The Mud Stud
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    You really don't want to degrease chainse with stuff like that. The problem is you want to get the grit and old grease out of the outside of the chain, but using too strong a solvent will also remove the grease that is mostly protected in the bearings of the chain. This can cause faster wear of the bearings and lengthening or stretching of the chain. I never degrease, I simply clean with water and a brush, using softer soaps or car shampoo is also a good option.

  14. #14
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    I've used dish soap on my chain and IMO it can get it clean, at least cleaner than using a chain cleaner, if done right.
    What I'd do is take the chain off and put it in a plastic bottle (I use an medium sized, used Gatorade bottle). Put in some dish soap and warm water, close the bottle and shake it like a maniac. Drain and repeat until not more dirt and grime comes off the chain. Rinse thoroughly in warm water. You can do soak the chain in alcohol which will remove more water. If I soak it in alcohol, I'll keep the alcohol rather than throwing that away.
    Put the chain on a baking sheet and bake in the oven to remove all water and/or alcohol.
    When chain is cool, put back on bike and lube thoroughly.

    While this takes a while to do, I've found that its easier and cleaner than any other method I've tried and it does get my chain really clean. Just don't forget to lube thoroughly.

  15. #15
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    Mineral Spirits and a brush (I use the cheap black synthetic paint brushes). If you have a SRAM chain, removing it for cleaning in a small tub (um, old tupperware) is best. Blast it with the air compressor and re-lube. Easy peezy.

  16. #16
    gran jefe
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    i have heard of people coiling up their chain in the bottom of a frying pan and boiling it in soapy water. sounds like a horrible idea, but they claim it is teh awesome. and, they have been at it a lot longer than i have...

  17. #17
    squish is good
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    i have heard of people coiling up their chain in the bottom of a frying pan and boiling it in soapy water. sounds like a horrible idea, but they claim it is teh awesome. and, they have been at it a lot longer than i have...
    I think somebody was messing with you dude! I get it, it might work but seems completely unnecessary to me.
    Bike good, work bad.

  18. #18
    gran jefe
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clutchman83 View Post
    I think somebody was messing with you dude!
    Well, it was on bikeforums, and nobody over there has a sense of humor...
    Quote Originally Posted by Clutchman83 View Post
    I get it, it might work but seems completely unnecessary to me.
    oh, very completely unnecessary.

  19. #19
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    New question here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirt Bringer View Post
    You really don't want to degrease chainse with stuff like that. The problem is you want to get the grit and old grease out of the outside of the chain, but using too strong a solvent will also remove the grease that is mostly protected in the bearings of the chain. This can cause faster wear of the bearings and lengthening or stretching of the chain. I never degrease, I simply clean with water and a brush, using softer soaps or car shampoo is also a good option.

    Im curious. What keeps the grease inside the chain protected? My motorcycle chain has orings which keep the lubricant inside.. but my bicycle chain doesnt have anything like that.

  20. #20
    local trails rider
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    Chain manufacturers put pretty sticky grease into their chains during assembly at the factory. It stays there for quite a while, unless you insist on removing it and trying to replace it with some inferior lubricant. Obviously, it won't last forever and you need to start lubricating the chain, eventually even removing the old, dirty, lubricant.

    Techs from all major chain brands have given that kind of statements.

    For me, the best thing has been to wipe off the grease from the exterior of the chain and apply a thin layer of lube that leaves a dry or waxy surface. Easy to clean and works for quite some time. At some point, the chain starts getting stiff and it is time to degrease the chain and soak it in some lube that will penetrate into the internals.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  21. #21
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    [QUOTE=perttime;9206252]Chain manufacturers put pretty sticky grease into their chains during assembly at the factory. /QUOTE]

    isnt that just to protect the chain until it is installed? Anyway one ride with that stuff on and my drivetrain is a dirty slow mess. Now i always dgrease that and go to a wax for dry/dust and standard stuff for wetterconditions

  22. #22
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by natrat View Post
    isnt that just to protect the chain until it is installed? Anyway one ride with that stuff on and my drivetrain is a dirty slow mess. Now i always dgrease that and go to a wax for dry/dust and standard stuff for wetterconditions
    Nope, it is a great lubricant, according to Shimano, SRAM, KMC and Campagnolo, at least.

    I'm all for removing it from the external surfaces, but leave it on the insides of a new chain.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  23. #23
    Live 2 Ride
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    I've used simple green to degrease the chain. I get an old 20 oz bottle left over after drinking a soda, drop the chain in there, fill with simple green, shake it up for about an hour, then lay it out to dry. Seems to work pretty well.
    My Bike: '15 Trek FX 7.2
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  24. #24
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    Has anyone ever used a steamer like the ones used on stovetops etc. to clean a chain?
    roccowt.
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  25. #25
    The Mud Stud
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    Quote Originally Posted by FLMike View Post
    Im curious. What keeps the grease inside the chain protected? My motorcycle chain has orings which keep the lubricant inside.. but my bicycle chain doesnt have anything like that.
    As far as I can tell its just the design that has small enough tolerances that keep enough oil in the chain for most of its life, if it is kept properly greased as well. These same tolerances make it difficult to get the proper amount of oil back into the chain if it is degreased, allowing water, in the form of moisture, and dust to get into the chain. I think it also depends on the kind of chain. I've never degreased a mtb chain in over 10 years. I just wash it, clean it with a rag completely, use some water, and then regrease it. Never had a problem doing that. Chainrings and cogs can benefit from degreasing though, since they have no moving parts anyway.

  26. #26
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    I use this Rock Lube Never had any problems.
    2011 Rockhopper Comp 29er
    2011 Myka HT Disc (wife)

  27. #27
    nimble biker
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    Mineral Spirits and a brush (I use the cheap black synthetic paint brushes). If you have a SRAM chain, removing it for cleaning in a small tub (um, old tupperware) is best. Blast it with the air compressor and re-lube. Easy peezy.


    where do you buy mineral spirits ?

  28. #28
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    where do you buy mineral spirits ?
    Home Depot, Lowes, Ace hardware or any paint store.

  29. #29
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    Yup, mineral spirits or gas with a brush. Wipe with rag, and/or blow it with compressor then re-lube. Using dish soap is silly and a waste of time and not a good idea unless your planning to wear it as jewelry.
    Round and round we go

  30. #30
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    Never heard of doing this

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by theMeat View Post
    Yup, mineral spirits or gas with a brush. Wipe with rag, and/or blow it with compressor then re-lube. Using dish soap is silly and a waste of time and not a good idea unless your planning to wear it as jewelry.
    Ive used kerosene and diesel fuel for motorcycle oring chains... but when you say "gas", do you mean gasoline?

  32. #32
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    Yup, gasoline works great too.
    Round and round we go

  33. #33
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    I'm sure gasoline works well... but you'll never catch me using it.

    Not safe at all...http://forums.mtbr.com/images/smilies/nono.gif

    Ka boom!!!

  34. #34
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    Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by Picard View Post
    Is it safe to use liquid dish detergent to wash chains & cassette ?
    The Park Tool chain cleaning kit recommends it on the second cycle.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by car bone View Post
    I use white spirit and let it soak for a few hours. Airdry and then acetone wash. On the cassette I use nothing, I just disassemble all the cogs and wipe them clean. However you can get away with just wiping the chain down and put more oil on it.
    Jesus. Really?



    MTB Action Magazine recommends dish detergent...

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pooch View Post
    I've used dish soap on my chain and IMO it can get it clean, at least cleaner than using a chain cleaner, if done right.
    What I'd do is take the chain off and put it in a plastic bottle (I use an medium sized, used Gatorade bottle). Put in some dish soap and warm water, close the bottle and shake it like a maniac. Drain and repeat until not more dirt and grime comes off the chain. Rinse thoroughly in warm water. You can do soak the chain in alcohol which will remove more water. If I soak it in alcohol, I'll keep the alcohol rather than throwing that away.
    Put the chain on a baking sheet and bake in the oven to remove all water and/or alcohol.
    When chain is cool, put back on bike and lube thoroughly.

    While this takes a while to do, I've found that its easier and cleaner than any other method I've tried and it does get my chain really clean. Just don't forget to lube thoroughly.

    Ha ha. Seriously?

    I get a bucket of sudsy water, stand next to my bike, and scrub the chain with a long-bristle brush as I run the crank backwards...let dry...drip some CLP on it, run it around a bit, wipe really well.

    Does a chain really need to be spotless? I ride a lot and my chains and cogs last a decent amount of time.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ailuropoda View Post
    Ha ha. Seriously?
    Yeah, serious. I ride where it's dry and fine dirt and it gets everywhere on the chain. Chain cleaners just don't seem to get inside the links very well.

    Cleaning like I do takes some time but it really isn't very hard.

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ailuropoda View Post
    MTB Action Magazine recommends dish detergent...
    They also reccomend to buy a new XTR 29er every year.

    You guys are making it complicated. Mineral Spirits, a brush, 2 minutes, compressed air, and you're done. Gasoline is the way my dad used to do it, but that and acetone are pretty stinky.

    The trails I ride on are clay.

  39. #39
    gran jefe
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    i agree with dion as far as appropriate level of complexity and effort, but if anyone wants to take it to the next level, an ultrasonic cleaner is the only way to go.

  40. #40
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    if anyone wants to take it to the next level, an ultrasonic cleaner is the only way to go.
    And the level after that: The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System:
    The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System

    (do read the disclaimer at the end...)

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  41. #41
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    I've been using mineral spirits to clean parts lately as well. I used to use degreaser but I found it too soapy and it didn't do nearly the job mineral spirits do. I usually soak the chain, cassette and any greasy bolts in a tub of it for just a couple minutes and they come out super clean.
    2016 Santa Cruz Hightower 29er
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  42. #42
    govt kontrakt projkt mgr
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    I've been using either dawn or ivory dish detergent for years. But yeah when the weather's wetter and things gunk up more some sort of degreaser such as orange peel or simple green is needed.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill in Houston View Post
    Well, it was on bikeforums, and nobody over there has a sense of humor... oh, very completely unnecessary.
    A truer statement as never been made.
    Some nice folks but sticks in the mud, the lot of them.

  44. #44
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    There's something about a clean, smooth running chain and clean cogs and chainrings.I see them as the heart of the bike.It's what gets you going.
    My favorite maintenance parts.Nothing like a smooth running well syncronized drivetrain.
    I like mine Rolex smooth.
    roccowt.
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  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime View Post
    And the level after that: The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System:
    The ShelBroCo Bicycle Chain Cleaning System

    (do read the disclaimer at the end...)
    Another reminder of how much Sheldon Brown is missed. So awesome.

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