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A very simple guide to cleaning your bike at home

Keeping your bike shiny through spring doesn't have to be complicated

Spring Cleaning

Spring is in full swing in Canada, which means sun, dry trails and … the occasional unexpected snowfall or rainshower. It also means spring cleaning. Whether that’s cleaning your bike off after a winter in the garage or after last weekend’s rainy ride, a good rinse will help keep your ride running smooth into summer.

Not everyone has access to a full workshop at home, though, or a closet full of specialized bike cleaning products. Don’t let that stop you from getting your bike minty fresh. Here’s the super-simple home cleaning.

What you need

The basics. A bucket, soap, tool, soft brush, tough brush, rag, chain lube, and – not essential but handy – Robert Axle Project Drive-Thru.

It doesn’t actually take very much to give your bike a good clean. Here are the basics for home cleaning:


Dish soap. There are advantages to bike-specific cleaning products, but plain dish soap works in a pinch.

Brushes. Ideally, two brushes. Use a soft brush for the frame, small parts and wheels. You can use a harder bristle brush for the drivetrain. If you don’t have two, just make sure to keep the brush away from the drivetrain until the very end, so you don’t spread grease over other parts of the bike.

Rag. To clean the chain and chainring. If you have a chain degreaser, that is ideal. But cleaning excess dirt and grime off is a good start, and better than nothing.

Chain lube. Once you’ve cleaned the last ride’s dirt off, make sure your drivetrain is ready for the next ride.

Simple bike cleaning

Fill a bucket with warm soapy water, then follow the steps above. Work your way from the top down, so dirt doesn’t drip back onto areas you’ve already cleaned. If you have a more elaborate cleaning routine, that’s great. But making this simple clean a regular habit is a great start.

This simple clean is just enough to keep your ride sparkling and keep dirt and grime from accumulating on your bike. It doesn’t replace a full service – whether you do that at home or take it in to your local shop – but it will help keep your bike running smooth between services. And looking nicer, to boot.