Home » Bike Maintenance » Basic tools and repairs » Potions and lotions “Cleaning products” – part 1

Potions and lotions “Cleaning products” – part 1

A supply of cleaning and lubricating products is essential for routine maintenance. Your bike shop will usually have a choice. Ask for their recommendations, since they’ll know what works well for your local environment. As you tackle more advanced jobs, you’ll need some more specialized items.

Cleaning products

Cleaning products

Always start with the least aggressive cleaning products, then gradually intensify.

  • A cleaning fluid, such as Finish Line Bike Wash or Hope’s ShitShifter, makes washing much quicker. Spray it on, give everything a good scrub with your brush kit, then rinse with warm water.
  • Degreaser. This is great for deep-cleaning your bike’s really filthy drivechain. Spray it on, leave it to soak for as long as the manufacturer recommends, then rinse with hot water. Do check the instructions, though, as some can be damaging to paintwork. Avoid getting degreaser anywhere near seals and bearings, too, as you don’t actually want these to be stripped of their lubrication until its time for a service. A dedicated chain-cleaning tool helps to keep the powerful chemicals contained.
  • Hand cleaner. Essential! Most jobs start with a dirty procedure and end with a clean one. Trying to assemble parts with new grease and dirty hands is a waste of time, so you need to be able to wash your hands in the middle of a job as well as at the end. Most hardware and motor spares shops sell cleaner that’s specially designed for oily hands.
  • Cotton rag is a workshop essential. You can buy rolls of window cleaner’s scrim or hit up your local charity shops for a bunch of cheap T-shirts. Don’t try and reuse your rags by washing them; once they’re filthy, bin them and start afresh.
  • Brush kit. Invest in a bike-specific brush kit to make cleaning easier. This should include a very stiff brush for removing mud from tyres, a soft frame brush and a narrow brush for cleaning cassettes and chainrings, amongst others. Try not to get them mixed up, though, as the stiffer bristles designed for removing oil from the drivechain will make a mess of your paintwork.