A friend recommended that I take an oily cloth (with regular motor oil or such) and wipe down the entire surface of my mountain bike frame. He claims that it's easier to hose off after, and it actually keeps cleaner. It seems counter-intuitive to me, as I think the dirt would just stick to the oil.

What do you think? Do you do this, and does it work for you?

I should add that this is for a wet, muddy climate; the argument being that oil repels water...

  • 1
    Probably waxing would be best. Or maybe dish soap. That's what we use on pots over a camp fire.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 19:40
  • People clean their bikes??? (There's a slight danger that oil will soften and damage the paint.) Commented Jun 5, 2011 at 14:54

6 Answers 6


I'd think that oil would repel water (make washing harder) and attract dirt. Maybe since we're in such a wet climate (Andrew and I live near each other) it's decent advice to keep the rain/wet trails/dirt of your bike but I still think that your bike would gather dirt even in the West Coast rain. Especially in areas that are hard to get at like around the seat stays and seat tube.

We oil our chains and they get filthy, even on the road. I'm not sure why it would be any different with the frame.

I can't see any scenario where that is good advice. I agree with the comment that waxing would be a better option.

  • Thanks Curtis, looks like you win on votes. I've just seen Armor-All suggested in another thread, which would be the equivalent of waxing... That actually sounds like the way to go.
    – Andrew Vit
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 8:35
  • You can use car wax if you own a car, or try to find bike specific products at your LBS. There are some bike wash products with similar protection capabilities ar wax.
    – Papuass
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 7:41

Pam cooking spray. Spray the frame and the mud falls away.

I'm sure the same can be said of waxes etc... anything that gives your bike a nice shiny coating.

Anyways, people have been using Pam for years.

  • LOL, said friend is also a chef, so maybe that's it!
    – Andrew Vit
    Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 22:27
  • +1 because this is interesting! I wwonder if it works. Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 1:11
  • 1
    Hmm. Not sure how good this is if any of it gets on the drivetrain. No matter how good your aim is, there's always going to some stuff blowing around. I assume you cover the drivetrain before doing this? Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 3:09
  • actually there are people who will get it on the drivetrain as well, with the intention of shedding mud. This is apparently a motocross/quad trick (originally) that made its way to the world of mountain bikes. What harm would it do to your drivetrain? My assumption is absolutely nothing. Pedros has a line of lubes that are made out of canola oil ... the only problem I ever had was that they would freeze quicker than a synthetic
    – tplunket
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 10:27

Bad idea.

As Curtis said, dirt will stick to it like crazy.

The only dirt that won't come off with a hose is dirt that has been on there for days/weeks and has baked itself on. So just clean your ride regularly and it shouldn't be a problem.

The paint finish on bikes is so smooth that dirt shouldn't really be able to 'grab' onto it anyway. Maybe if you are riding an old bike covered in rust it might be an idea but otherwise I'd just leave it as is.


I think you've been given bad advice. I don't think oil will do any harm to the bike, but I don't think it will do much good either. The problem I see here is "hosing it off afterwards": Using high-pressure water on a bike, particularly the drivetrain, is a bad move. It'll throw the deraileurs out of adjustment, and the water will force its way into any cracks or ships in the paint, possibly into the cable housings, and you'll end up with water inside the frame and possibly the bearings. (This is a particular problem with steel frames, where rust can accumulate inside and you may not know it for years.)

A bucket of soapy water and a sponge or a cloth will do the job just fine. Some people use citrus degreaser spray to clean the frame. (My shop uses lemon pledge to keep all their bikes clean.)


This advice may be better applied to steel frame bikes where rust and corrosion are a problem. Leaving a (very) thin oil layer will keep water from reaching any pits or cracks and turning to rust.

The main benefit is that it prevents nasty stuff from getting extremely stuck on (tar, bugs, etc)--but it won't magically keep your bike spotless.

If you have a hard time cleaning the nasty stuff off or are starting to see corrosion issues then it might be worth it, otherwise it's probably not going to have any real benefit.


When I was mountain biking here in Missouri, mud and other gruck were pretty much standard. I must say I never really obsessed about cleaning the bike... When I got home I'd simply leave it on the car rack and hose it down with a standard garden hose to get the big stuff off. It was an aluminum-framed model with stainless cables and such.. Not much to worry about.

Take it off the rack when done, bounce it on the pavement a couple of times and leave it sitting in the Sun to dry. Re-lube the chain and DRs.... Funny story.... I came out of one of the local trailheads one spring afternoon literally covered with mud. Bike, me, everything. A young couple were just getting their bikes ready to go. The girl looks at me and says.."Is it muddy?"

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