Best bike chain cleaner – If you want to perform at your best when you’re cycling, one of the most important things to do is make sure that your bike stays in good condition.
One of the most important, yet also most easily damaged parts of a bike is the bike chain. The chain, of course, is the component of the bike that transfers the kinetic energy generated by the pedals to the wheels, allowing it to move forward.
Clearly, a bike chain is an essential part of any bike, but the problem is that dirt and grease can easily accumulate in the chain, wearing down the teeth and stretching the o-rings. Eventually, the chain can become rusty, which may cause it to break prematurely.
Luckily, there are several highly effective products on the market formulated specifically for cleaning bike chains. As bike enthusiasts ourselves, we’ve tested out a lot of these products, and we’ll be telling you all about our top 5 today!
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Our top recommended bike chain cleaner is this chain and drivetrain cleaning kit from Park Tool.
Part of the reason this product is our top pick is that it’s a full kit, meaning that it includes a brush and a scrubbing tool to help you apply the product. If you don’t have the right tools, applying a bike chain cleaner can be difficult, or you might not apply it effectively enough.
With this kit, you’ll be able to use the long-bristled brush to get into all the small crevices of your bike chain, thoroughly cleaning out any grease and dirt.
The cleaning solution itself is a complete solution. This means that in addition to cleaning bike chains, it can be used to cleanse other bike components like cogs and chainrings. As a result, the solution is very good value for money.
Because the formula is plant-based, it’s gentle as well as being effective, and doesn’t contain any chemicals that could damage the structural integrity of your bike chain in the long term.
One thing to note about this bike chain cleaner, however, is the fact that using the kit can be difficult on your own if you don’t have a bike stand. Therefore, if you don’t already own a bike stand, you might need to get someone to help you clean your bike chain.
- Complete solution – Also cleans chainrings and cogs
- Includes scrubber and brush – Easy to apply
- Plant-based formula – Natural and non-damaging
- Long brush bristles – Deep cleaning
- Difficult to use without a bike stand – May require assistance
Finish Line is one of the best manufacturers you can go to if you’re looking for bike maintenance products, and chain cleaner is no exception. We highly recommend the Finish Line Shop Quality Bicycle Chain Cleaner.
This is another bike cleaner kit, so in addition to receiving the cleaning solution, you’ll get other tools to help you get this cleaning task done.
The main component in this kit is the clip-on cleaner, which can be attached to your bike chain without needing to remove the chain first. However, if you ride a beach cruiser that runs on a single speed, you’ll need to slacken the chain before you can attach the cleaner.
Inside the cleaning too, there are 3 brushes that rotate as the cleaner is moved along the chain. The rotating, 3-brush design ensures thorough cleaning from all angles.
In terms of the cleaning solution you’ll receive, the package includes EchoTech chain cleaner and degreaser, as well as a chain lubricant. The cleaner and degreaser will get rid of any existing contaminants while the lubricant will help to keep your bike chain in good condition and working well between cleans.
- Clip-on cleaning tool – No chain removal required
- 3-brush design – Rotates for thorough cleaning
- Includes EchoTech cleaner and degreaser – 2-part cleaning
- Chain lubricant included – Provides preventative maintenance
- Sometimes requires chain slack – Not the best choice for single-speed beach cruisers
Also Available At:
Finish Line USA
The Muc Off Bio Drivetrain Cleaner is one of the best products you can use to clean your bike chain to a professional standard in an environmentally friendly way.
What makes this bike chain cleaner stand out from most other products on the market is the fact that the formula is fully biodegradable.
This means that if you get some of the product on the ground or anywhere else in your surroundings, you don’t have to worry about the liquid lingering and causing any damage.
Speaking of not causing damage, the formula is compatible with the vast majority of components and materials used in bike construction. This includes aluminium, plastic, rubber, and carbon fiber.
As well as being biodegradable, this cleaning formula removed both grease and grime, so the finished result is a thorough, sparkling clean.
With that being said, it’s important to remember that although the product is biodegradable, any dirt that you extract from your bike chain may not be.
Therefore, you should still remember to clean up any dirt or empty debris from your cleaning tool responsibly because it won’t just disappear along with the cleaner.
- Biodegradable formula – Eco-friendly
- Compatible with most bike materials – Not damaging
- Removes grime and grease – Deep cleaning
- The dirt itself might not be biodegradable – Dirt must be disposed of
Another bike chain cleaning product from Finish Line that we absolutely love is the Finish Line Speed Bike Degreaser. This is the perfect cleaning solution if you need to clean your bike in a short amount of time.
The formula itself is very powerful and effective – so much so that you don’t even need any brushes or scrubbing tools to apply it! The product cuts through dirt, grease, and grime, while the turbo spray bottle helps to forcefully remove any stubborn debris.
You can also use this product to clean your disc brakes, which is great because brakes are some of the most important bike components to keep clean and functional.
Once you’ve finished using the formula, you can simply leave it to dry. As it dries, the product evaporates, leaving absolutely no residue behind, so you don’t have to worry about clogging up your chain with remaining cleaner.
The only thing to bear in mind is that the product doesn’t go a long way. Depending on how much dirt you have to clean, a single spray can not last you for more than one or two uses, so be prepared to buy more cleaners regularly.
- Evaporates – No residue
- Also works on disc brakes – Multipurpose
- Powerful formula – No cleaning required
- Turbo spray – Effective application
- Not much product – Doesn’t last very long
If you’ve ever had to fix a squeaky door, lubricate stuck gears, or prevent a metal object from getting rusty, you’ve probably at least heard of WD-40. The Specialist Bike Degreaser from WD-40 is the perfect chain cleaner for greasy bike chains.
This formula is basically a chain cleaner and lubricator in one, so if you’re finding that your chain has accumulated some grease or grime and isn’t as slick as it used to be, it’s a good product to invest in.
Because this formula doesn’t contain any wax, you don’t need to worry too much about cleaning away residue. You won’t notice any buildup or waxy residue on your chain after cleaning.
Moreover, this product effectively prevents corrosion, which is great because it means that your bike chain is less likely to succumb to rust-related damage and will, therefore, last longer.
Admittedly, this isn’t the most powerful cleaner on the market. There are other formulas out there that will cut through grease and grime more quickly and efficiently. However, this product is good for when your chain isn’t yet that dirty and you want to do a quick clean on a regular basis to prevent further buildups.
- Cleans and lubricates – Dual action
- No-wax formula – No residual buildup
- Prevents corrosion – Makes chains last longer
- Not the most powerful cleaner – Best for surface cleaning
Also Available At:
Buyer’s Guide For Bike Chain Cleaners
All of the cleaners on our list of products are excellent for ridding bike chains of grease, grime, and other contaminants. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put time into making your decision.
You should still consider factors such as the formula ingredients before completing your purchase. If that sounds confusing, don’t worry – just follow the guidelines below and you’ll soon know which product is best for you.
Kit Or Formula Only
First of all, are you looking for just a chain cleaning formula, or do you want cleaning tools as well?
There’s no right or wrong answer here. If you don’t have any cleaning tools yet (for instance, if this is a relatively new bike and you’ve never cleaned the chain), it might be a good idea to choose a complete kit.
This will usually include a brush and a scrubber. Sometimes, you’ll get a clip-on chain cleaner that attaches to the chain and can be moved around.
Alternatively, if you already have a chain cleaning brush, you might be able to just purchase the cleaning formula.
Some chain cleaning products are actually strong enough to be used without any assistance from brushes and scrubbers, so if you don’t have a lot of time or energy to spare for cleaning your bike chain, this might be your best option.
Regardless of whether you purchase your bike cleaning formula alongside other cleaning tools, you’ll need to assess what kind of formula is being provided.
For example, are you looking for a simple cleaning solution or do you also want the product to lubricate your bike chain? Would you like to help protect your chain from rust at the same time? You can find formulas that check all of those boxes, you just have to know what you’re looking for first.
It’s also important to note whether your formula evaporates or not. If it does, this means that you won’t have to wipe or wash your chain after using the product because it won’t leave residue behind.
The same goes for wax-free formulas. However, wax formulas and those that don’t evaporate may require additional cleaning at the end of the process to prevent accumulation.
When we talk about the safety of a bike chain cleaner, we’re not discussing how toxic it may or may not be for humans to consume – don’t ever ingest bike chain cleaner, period.
However, depending on the ingredients in the formula, it may be more or less safe for the environment around you as well as for other parts of your bike.
A non-abrasive, plant-based product is often considered the gold standard for cleaning your bike chain without damaging any other parts of it or contaminating your environment.
If possible, we recommend looking for a biodegradable formula because you won’t have to worry about leaving any chemicals behind on either the ground or your bike.
Cleaner Tool Construction
If you have chosen to purchase a bike chain cleaning kit, you’ll need to assess the quality and construction of the other tools provided in the package.
For example, if your cleaning product comes with a brush, it’s best to ensure that this brush has long bristles. This is so that the bristles can get into small parts of the chain and effectively dislodge any dirt or debris.
Moreover, if you’re also purchasing a clip-on chain cleaning tool, it’s important to be aware of the kind of cleaning mechanism inside of it. We recommend a rotating brush mechanism, ideally with multiple brushes. This tends to provide the most effective and efficient clean because the chain can be cleaned from all angles.
Ease Of Application
Your chosen bike chain cleaner should, ideally, be easy to apply. After all, you don’t want to spend hours on what should be a relatively simple task.
One of the best ways to ensure an easy application is to check that any clip-on cleaning tools don’t require the chain to be removed before use. This massively speeds up the process. Please be aware that some clip-on cleaners may still require the chains of certain bikes to be slackened.
If you’re not relying on a cleaning tool to help you clean your bike chain, you need to ensure that the spray mechanism on the product’s container is good enough.
Ideally, the spray should be low-volume and high pressure to make sure it cuts through more stubborn grime without too much additional scrubbing.
Quantities And Longevity
Don’t forget to consider the quantities in which your chosen bike chain cleaner is sold as well as how long a container is likely to last.
This varies quite a lot between manufacturers and depends on the consistency and spray function of the product, so the best way to tell is either to read the manufacturer’s guidelines or check out some testimonials online to see how long the product lasted for others.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Often Should I Clean My Bike Chain?
Regardless of how frequently you cycle, it’s a good idea to clean your bike’s chain at least once a month.
Even if it doesn’t look dirty and seems to be functioning well, it’s best to stay on top of the cleaning process. By the time your chain looks visibly dirty, its functionality is probably already being impeded.
Can I Use Vaseline On My Bike Chain?
You might have heard of people applying Vaseline to their bike chains and wondered if you can use Vaseline to clean your chain.
First of all, it’s important to note that Vaseline is typically used as a chain lubricant, not a cleaner.
It’s also not the best product to use for lubrication because it takes a while for the gel-like substance to get into all the necessary crevices. It might work in a pinch, but it’s always best to buy a purpose-formulated lubricant.
Can You Clean A Bike Chain Without Degreaser?
Much of the contamination that affects bike chains is grease, so cleaning a bike chain without degreaser is challenging. However, if you desperately need to clean your bike chain and don’t have any degreaser to hand, liquid detergent or dish soap will work.
Cleaning your bike chain is an important job, so you need to ensure that you have the best bike chain cleaner for the task!
Remember to differentiate between formula-only products and kits that come with clip-on cleaners, brushes, and scrubbers. Also, make sure to assess the ingredients and formula type before you make any final decisions because the type of product and what it contains will make a big difference.