I just picked up an old bike with white brake hoods. They are pretty gnarsty, covered in a greyish brown layer of filth.

I've tried a soapy rag and scrubber brush with elbow grease. It takes care of most of the issue, but they're not pure clean. Is there any trick to this?

  • What's this "clean" thing??? And brake hoods can actually be WHITE???? – Daniel R Hicks Aug 29 '12 at 2:14

I have been using "Foaming Bathroom Cleaner" aka Scrubbing Bubbles and an old toothbruth for about two years with good results. I can't say anything about the long term results as it's only been two years. Your case might be tougher as I think the biggest tip is to clean them before the dirt gets really ground in.

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    if you need to keep scrubbing for two years I think I'd buy new ones. :-) – James Bradbury Dec 9 '12 at 19:14

I have white hoods on one bike and found that Armor-All, like I use for my car, worked pretty well. They are a bit slick for a short time after application, but it does seem to lift the dirt.

  • Mine are really gummy. Did it help with that, or did you not have that problem? – Darth Egregious Aug 29 '12 at 3:08
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    It's worth a try. I'm no expert; it seems to me that once hoods become gummy and decayed, there is nothing which can bring them back. When I got this bike it had badly oxidized, decaying latex hoods, and I just trashed them. They were maybe close to 30 years old. I replaced these hoods with more recent vintage synthetic rubber hoods (silicone, of some kind, maybe?), and those are the ones which the Armor-All cleans so well. I use a microfiber towel to hold the Armor-All, or a disposable Armor-All wipe/towelette. – Zippy The Pinhead Aug 29 '12 at 4:39
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    By gummy you mean the dirt layer is gummy, or the very hood material is gummy (degrading)? – heltonbiker Aug 29 '12 at 16:43
  • Rubber turns "gummy" when it begins to break down, and there's generally very little that can be done about this. The rubber breakdown can be "natural", or can be caused by inappropriately using a petroleum solvent (eg, mineral spirits) on the hoods. – Daniel R Hicks Oct 20 '15 at 22:45

One of the best cleaners I've found as far as both results and price, is a product called "Totally Awesome" liquid. It's a yellowish color and can be mixed at various strengths according to the job at hand. Cost is about $1 or $2 depending on where you buy it. You can get it in a spray bottle and a larger refill bottle. It can be used for hundreds of cleaning projects, just choose the strength you need. I buy it at Dollar General or Dollar Tree. It doesn't seem to damage paint at all. I've used Simple Green before due to its degreasing capabilities, but Totally Awesome does the same degreasing job at half the price. I use about a 20 or 25 to 1 mixture of Awesome cleaner/degreaser to water. Totally Awesome and a soft cloth gets the bike clean in less than an hour, including a cleaning/degreasing of the chain. It seems unlikely that a product priced so economically could so effective cleaning so many things.

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