How to Clean Your Bike Chain

How To Clean A Bike Chain

Cleaning your bike chain is a job that should be done as regularly as possible.

Keeping on top of it and cleaning it regularly will improve performance and help the chain last a lot longer.

Over time dirt and grease will build up on your chain. By getting rid of it you will be able to change gears much more smoothly, and it will also help protect your bike against general wear – saving you money in the long run.



To clean your chain thoroughly you are going to need a chain brush, a sponge, and a bucket – a chain cleaning kit helps too.

You’re also going to need some kind of chain cleaner, it is important to buy products specifically designed for bikes; otherwise you run the risk of causing unwanted damage.

You’ll also need some rags to wipe down the chain and remove any access cleaning product.

NOTE: You may want to remove your bike chain before cleaning it to make the process easier. You can find out how to do this by following our simple step by step guide on how to remove your bike chain.


Step 1: Degrease your chain

Your chain is the most integral part of your bike’s transmission since it helps keep your ride smooth.

Over time, dirt and other materials will stick to the lube on your chain, creating a horrible paste that can cause all kinds of problems. The chain degreaser will help you with this problem.


Step 2: Thoroughly clean the jockey wheels

Using your rag and a little bit of degreaser you can start scrubbing your jockey wheels, including the inside of the mech arm.

The jockey wheel can be removed to make it easier to clean, but unless you have the right tools to reattach it, it’s not a good idea.


Step 3: Clean the rear sprockets

You can use your rag to gently “floss” the sprockets; a small brush can also be beneficial. It can be worthwhile to use a bit of degreaser here also.

Remember that the cleaner each individual part is the faster the overall transmission will operate. Take a zero tolerance approach to dirt anywhere near your transmission.


Step 4: Don’t forget the chainrings

The grime and dirt around your chain rings can be incredibly hard to get off as the chainrings’ teeth will hold onto it.

The best cleaning method is to use a small but stiff brush and attach each tooth individually.


Step 5: Rinse it all down

Now that you’ve cleaned each element of the chain it is time to get rid of any leftover degreaser. It might sound silly but it is important to take care when rinsing your bike down.

Just use a very gentle water flow and never aim directly at the bike’s bearings.


Step 6: Wipe the chain

Grab a clean, soft rag and completely wipe the entire chain down. Even the cleanest seeming chain can harbour a surprising amount of dirt.

Take your time wiping. Massage each chain link individually using a wide range of motion – this will help to get rid of any hidden dirt.


Step 7: Lube your jockey wheels

A lot of people make the mistake of over-lubing their jockey wheels. The trick is to use just a touch of lube, and allow the chain to do the rest of the work.

A lot of dirt will find its way to the jockey wheel and excess lube will only exacerbate that problem. After lubing the jockey wheels should appear dry, so make sure to wipe away any leftover lube.


Step 8: Lube the chain

Once the bike has been cleaned and dried it is time to lube. Less is more when it comes to lubing a bike chain, so don’t go over the top.

The easiest way to do it is to use a dripper bottle. This is much easier than pouring it straight from a bottle and will improve your accuracy awhile reducing waste.

You’re aiming to get the lube into the links themselves, not on the outside coating. Again, wipe away any excess with a dry rag.


Step 9: Wipe and lube up your cables

Using your rag and degreaser wipe over your entire inner cable from one end to the other. Inner cables are often dry but can be given a new lease of life with a little chain lube.

If you notice that any parts of your cables are rusting or beginning to deteriorate then get them replaced as soon as possible.

For a visual step by step guide to lubing your chain check out the video below:

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