As a biker, we all know that a dirty chain is responsible for increased chainring and sprocket wear, reduced chain flexibility, and problems with gear shifting. But many times we don’t pay special attention to cleaning the bike chain. Nonetheless, many riders think they can clean the bike chain with brake cleaner.

In fact, you can clean the bike chain using brake cleaner and it won’t be a problem. However, it is best practice to use a prescribed cleaner for chain cleaning that you can buy from the market or make at home.

Many Pro-Cyclists recommend a variety of elements for cleaning bike chains. In this article, I will discuss in detail the rationale or problems of all such elements. So the article is going to be very informative about cleaning bikes with brake cleaner or any other cleaner like dish soap, petrol, normal water, vinegar, white spirit, kerosene, and so on with the benefits as well the drawbacks.

Do You Need To Clean Your Bike Chain?

Yes, you must clean your bike chain to ride smoothly.

Many times we neglect to clean the chain, which leads to chain wear. Even just wiping it down with a rag after riding can be an effective step in chain care. Because a clean chain enhances the aesthetic beauty of the bike as well as helps in better performance. So that if you want to use the bike chain better for a long time, you need to clean the chain regularly.

Why Is It Important To Clean Your Bike Chain?

It is important to clean the chain well after each ride, as well as to keep it properly lubricated.

  • A dirty chain is most likely to cause damage to sprockets and chainrings.
  • Cleaning and lube the chain to protect the chainrings and sprockets and prevent rust.
  • If you have to go on muddy roads or off-roading, be more careful about cleaning the chain.

What Can We Use To Clean Bike Chain?

Riders use many things to clean the bike chain. Especially those who don’t want to compromise on the care of their favorite bike, prefer to know which material will be the best. There are many chain cleaners available in the markets that are bike-specific degreasers. There are also many other ingredients you can use, including liquid dish soap.

Many feel comfortable using homemade cleaners to care for their bike chains. However, below I will answer all questions about the various components of chain cleaning and whether it is reasonable to use them.

Can You Clean Bike Chain With Brake Cleaner?

Yes, you can clean your bike chain with brake cleaner.

The specialty of brake cleaners is that they clean bike chains thoroughly by dissolving grease or similar materials completely. Moreover, they are formulated with such chemical that evaporates and dries quickly and leaves no residue.

Due to these features, many people prefer to use brake cleaner to clean the bike chain. Although this is relatively cheap, not a great way. Rather, a weak solvent or degreaser that is formulated for chain cleaning may be ideal to clean bike chains.

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Can You Use Dish Soap To Clean Bike Chain?

Dish soap is an affordable and effective way to clean bike chains.

It is an effective degreaser that breaks down grit and grime but does not remove essential grease completely. Being relatively mild solvents, dish soap does not harm your bike chain.

Then, How To Do the Cleaning?

  • Mix well a few ounces of dish soap with a quart of water in a plastic container.
  • Soak the bike chain in this solution for a few minutes and scrub it with a brush. Or take this solution in a spray bottle and spray it on the chain.
  • And, this will flush out dirt and grime.

Can You Clean Your Bike Chain With Petrol?

Although gasoline is theoretically a very effective degreaser, it’s harmful to bike chains.

Regular use of this gasoline for chain cleaning destroys the chain’s O-rings. As a result, you will need to replace the bike chain more frequently. In addition, petrol evaporates rapidly, which can have fatal effects on your health.

Can You Use Paint Thinner To Clean Bike Chain?

Yes, you can use paint thinner to clean bike chains as it is an excellent degreaser.

Usually, people use paint thinner to thin oil-based paint. But a paint thinner can effectively clean dirt, grime, or grease from the bike chain.

  • However, since it is a toxic substance, improper use or a little carelessness can cause harm.

Can You Use Lacquer Thinner To Clean Your Bike Chain?

Lacquer thinner is not a suitable material for cleaning bike chains.

You can thin, dissolve or clean lacquer products or lacquer-based paint by using lacquer thinner. And it is true that lacquer thinner can remove oily soils or dirt effectively, but it evaporates too quickly.

  • The low flash point factor is another drawback of this product. So lacquer thinner also can be dangerous for you.

Can You Use Acetone To Clean Your Bike Chain?

Yes, you can use acetone to clean your bike chain.

Acetone easily removes grease and other contaminants from surfaces. People use acetone as a degreaser or cleaner in labs and industry.

  • The easiest way to clean a chain using acetone is to soak the bike chain in a plastic bottle with acetone for a few minutes.
  • Then cap the bottle and shake well for 30 seconds. Hopefully, at this stage, you will have an altogether clean chain.

Can You Clean Bike Chain By Using Vinegar?

Yes, you can use white vinegar to clean your bike chain.

Since vinegar is acidic, it can easily remove chain grease. Even vinegar is great for cleaning rusty chains.

Also, being acidic, vinegar can be harmful to metals. So instead of using vinegar directly, it is better to mix it with the required amount of water.

  • For this, take one part vinegar and three parts water and mix them well in a bowl.
  • Soak the chain in this solution for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Then a light scrubbing with a brush will clean the chain.
  • You can also clean the chain by spraying the vinegar solution on the chain and wiping it thoroughly.
  • After cleaning with vinegar, you should rinse again the chain with hot water.

Can You Clean A Bike Chain With White Spirit?

Yes, you can clean your bike chain using a white spirit. Even mixing the white spirit with regular cleaners gives excellent results. Moreover, you don’t need to remove the chain from the bike to clean the chain using it.

  • Wipe the chain thoroughly with a cloth soaked in white spirit and then rinse the chain with clean water.

However, removing the chain and cleaning it may be more effective.

  • Half fill a bike bottle with white spirit and soak the chain in it for a while.
  • After that, shake the bottle well, take out the chain and rinse again with clean water.
  • Be sure to use a pair of latex gloves when using a white spirit.

Can You Use Kerosene To Clean Bike Chain?

Kerosene is great as a cleaner and you can use kerosene to clean your bike chain. It can dissolve all dirt and lubricants and can clean the chain thoroughly.

Nevertheless, Kerosene is cheap in price and available everywhere, but the problem is kerosene removes all the lubricant from the chain and increases friction.

So, after cleaning the chain using kerosene, you need to use lube separately.

Can You Clean A Bike Chain With A Degreaser?

Everyone uses lube on bike chains. As you ride the bike, dirt and grime adhere to this lube and build up a sticky layer that will require a degreaser to clean off. And Chain cleaning can be quite simple by using a good quality degreaser.

  • All you have to do is add a degreaser to a brush and keep pedaling back with this chain attached.
  • Then wash with clean water. Or take a jar of degreaser and soak the chain in it for a while and shake well.
  • After using the degreaser, rinse the chain with water and dry thoroughly and lube it.

Can You Use Diesel To Clean Your Bike Chain?

Yes, you can use diesel to clean the bike chain. Most service centers usually use diesel to clean the chain and other parts of the bike.

As dirt and dust always affect bike chains, and because of the presence of lube, dirt easily sticks to the chain. And here, Diesel acts as an ideal degreaser to remove oily deposits. It can also play an effective role in removing rust.

Furthermore, Diesel is less flammable than petrol or white spirit. So you can easily use diesel to clean the bike chain.

Can You Clean Your Bike Chain With Water?

By cleaning with water, you can remove a lot of dirt from the chain but not all.

Since the chain contains a lot of oily dirt, it is not possible to clean it completely with just plain water. However, you can clean your bike chain in hot water, which is better than plain water.

Anyway, if you want to clean the bike chain thoroughly-

  • Add dish soap or other cleaners to hot water.
  • It is important to note that when you clean the chain using a degreaser, be sure to rinse the chain again with clean water.

Can You Clean A Bike Chain With Soap And Water?

Yes, you can clean your bike chain with soap and water as many riders follow this method.

  • Make a solution by mixing dish soap with warm water and soaking the chain in it.
  • After soaking well, continue scrubbing using a brush until all dirt is removed.

And, this is a very safe and effective way to clean a bike chain.

Many people do not want to use chemical degreasers because many of these damage metals. Plus, not all chemicals are good for health. So instead of a chemical degreaser, soap and water can be an effective method of chain cleaning.

When Should You Clean Your Bike Chain?

Experts recommend cleaning the chain carefully after every bike ride.

  • Regular chain cleaning is just as important as lubrication. Although you can ride about 1400 miles without cleaning the chain, it will probably cause permanent damage to the chain.
  • The dust that accumulates on the chain while riding the bike causes friction with the sprocket or chainring. That’s why a dirty chain faster wears out the sprocket and chainring.
  • So clean the chain thoroughly at least once a week or once a month, if it is not possible after every ride.

Moreover, research says that-  a nasty, rough, and dirty chain is responsible for reducing bike chainrings & sprocket lifespan, chain flexibility, and creating problems in shifting gears. I mean, it is a wise and healthier decision to keep the bike chain moderately clean.

The Final Sayings

Riders clean their bike chain with brake cleaner as well as many other ingredients. But we don’t always understand if the material we use is rational. So instead of doing good, many times we damage the bike.

Also, many intermediate to pro cyclists use or want to use the ingredients that I have mentioned in this article to clean the chain. Some of which are quite effective, while others can cause damage to the chain. And, I hope this article will help you to choose the right chain cleaning material while avoiding harmful ones.