How to Clean a Bike Chain with Household Products

How to Clean a Bike Chain with Household Products is not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly.

It allows you to maintain your bike’s performance without resorting to harsh chemicals. So, let’s dive into the process.

Gather Your Supplies

Before you start cleaning your bike chain, gather the following supplies.

Gather Your Supplies

  • Old toothbrush
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Warm water
  • A bucket
  • Chain lubricant
  • Rag or towel
  • Pliers (optional)

Prepare Your Workspace

Find a well-ventilated area to work on your bike. Lay down a newspaper or an old cloth to catch any drips and make cleanup easier.

Remove the Bike Chain

Remove the Bike Chain
Remove the Bike Chain

To clean your bike chain thoroughly, it’s best to remove it from the bike. Use pliers to open the quick link or, if you have a chain tool, break the chain at a removable link.

Create a Homemade Cleaning Solution


Mix warm water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid

In a bucket, mix warm water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid. This solution will help break down the grease and grime on your bike chain.

Soak the Chain

Place the bike chain in the bucket with the cleaning solution. Let it soak for about 20-30 minutes. This will loosen the dirt and make it easier to clean.

Scrub the Chain

Scrub the Bike Chain
Scrub the Bike Chain

Take the old toothbrush and start scrubbing the chain thoroughly. Pay attention to all sides of the chain, ensuring you remove all the accumulated dirt and grime.

Rinse and Dry the Chain

Once you’ve scrubbed the chain, rinse it thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue. Then, use a rag or towel to dry the chain completely.

Reinstall the Chain

Reattach the clean chain to your bike. If you broke the chain, use a chain tool to rejoin it.

Apply Lubrication

Apply a suitable chain lubricant to the chain. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for proper lubrication.

Test Your Bike

Test Your Bike
Test Your Bike

Take your bike for a short ride to ensure the chain is working smoothly. Shift through all the gears and check for any issues.

Maintenance Tips

  • Regular Cleaning: Make it a habit to clean your bike chain regularly to prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime.
  • Use the Right Cleaning Products: Choose appropriate cleaning products designed for bike chains to ensure effective cleaning.
  • Inspect for Damage: Periodically inspect your chain for any signs of damage, such as bent or broken links, and replace them as needed.
  • Proper Lubrication: Apply the right type and amount of lubricant to your chain after cleaning to reduce friction and maintain smooth operation.
  • Tension Check: Ensure your chain is properly tensioned. Too loose or too tight a chain can affect performance.
  • Check Gears and Sprockets: Inspect your bike’s gears and sprockets to ensure they’re in good condition and properly aligned with the chain.
  • Keep it Dry: Store your bike in a dry place to prevent moisture and rust from forming on the chain.
  • Avoid Over-lubrication: Applying too much lubricant can attract more dirt, so use it sparingly.
  • Clean and Lubricate the Whole Drivetrain: Don’t forget to clean and lubricate other drivetrain components like the cassette and derailleurs for a smooth ride.
  • Seek Professional Help: If you’re unsure about maintenance tasks, consult a bike mechanic or expert for guidance or repairs.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Using too much force when scrubbing the chain can harm it.
    • Explanation: Scrubbing the bike chain too aggressively can cause damage to its components, leading to decreased performance or even chain breakage.
  • Failing to thoroughly dry the chain can result in rust.
    • Explanation: If you don’t ensure that the chain is completely dry after cleaning, moisture can lead to rust formation, which can compromise the chain’s functionality and longevity.


Cleaning your bike chain with household products is a simple yet effective way to keep your bike in excellent condition. It not only prolongs the life of your chain but also enhances your cycling experience.


Q: How often should I clean my bike chain?

Ans: It’s recommended to clean your bike chain every 100-200 miles or if it appears visibly dirty.

Q:Can I use any dishwashing liquid to clean the chain?

Ans: Yes, most mild dishwashing liquids work well for cleaning bike chains.

Q: Do I need to lubricate the chain after every cleaning?

Ans: It’s a good practice to lubricate the chain after cleaning, but you don’t necessarily need to do it every time.

Q: Can I use a pressure washer to clean my bike chain?

Ans: It’s best to avoid pressure washers as they can force water and contaminants into the chain’s internal parts, causing damage.

Q: What’s the best lubricant for a bike chain?

Ans: There are various bike chain lubricants available. Choose one that suits your riding conditions, such as wet or dry lubricants.

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