By the term consumable metallic parts I mean things such as derailleur pulleys, chains and cassettes. I have met tourers that suggested me cooking oil for cleaning the metallic parts, more here. The irony is that this frugal question ignited the tip but I am starting to feel cooking oil is not necessarily frugal, the oil is binned at the end (loss). My answer contains a cleaning way for about 0.1-0.5EUR. So how can I clean the parts more cheaply?


  • cooking oil used to clean chains -answer here
  • substitutes for chain lubricants -question here
  • Do you consider cassettes to be "consumable"? I do consider my chain to be "consumable". And by maintaining the chain, the cassette lasts for quite a long time. And for the cassette, I'm not pulling it off unless replacing the bearings. Do you plan to disassemble your rear wheel and clean the cassette just because?
    – user313
    Mar 28, 2011 at 21:26
  • 1
    @wdypdx22: yes I do. The left cassette is for winter, the right one is for summer. When I changed my winter tires to summer tires, I changed the cassette&chains and it was a good time to clean the consumables. You can see in the first picture how much junk there was on the cassette after winter. I believe this way I can make my cassettes and chains much long-lasting -- and it keeps me cleaning the metallic parts thoroughly. I do ride quite a lot so I want as cheap maintenance as possible hence the question. Any low-cost option to clean the consumambles besides cooking oil?
    – user652
    Mar 28, 2011 at 22:00
  • 3
    I think it would be better to have a short question and put most of your material in as an answer. As it is it's more like a wiki page. I'm happy to remove my downvote if you do that, otherwise I think we should close the question.
    – Мסž
    Mar 29, 2011 at 1:37
  • @moz: thanks. It should now be more accessible.
    – user652
    Mar 29, 2011 at 14:08
  • some other reason for down-vote?
    – user652
    Mar 29, 2011 at 19:55

4 Answers 4


Kerosene isn't bad... Low flash point and reasonably safe. (BBQ starter fluid)

I admit I've used gasoline... It's a wonderful solvent. I don't smoke...

  • they are flammable but do they corrode the metal? Cooking oil does not corrode but it is probably not as efficient as these liquids. Any idea whether I could use only a small tip of kerosene or something like that and dissolve it into something cheaper and then use it for cleaning the metallic parts? Such solution may become more efficient dust dissolver and may become cheaper, have to investigate it...
    – user652
    Mar 29, 2011 at 0:19
  • Oil, diesel/kerosene/petrol(gasoline) don't corrode and will all dissolve oil.
    – mgb
    Mar 29, 2011 at 14:00
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    I carry an MSR stove, while touring, that will burn just about anything. The gasoline that I usually burn in it is an excellent degreaser--and the stove will generally burn the used gasoline when I'm done. Just have to clean the jet every now and then to dislodge the gunk. At the end of a season, I let the fuel bottle dry out and any remaining gunk goes into the trash bin.
    – DC_CARR
    Mar 29, 2011 at 18:02
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    @DC_CARR: +1 how do you precisely clean them to avoid waste? Do you put the gasoline to a cloth, to a bottle or to a container? When you apply the gasoline, how do you prepare your metallic parts? Do you take them off, wipe them with some cleaner or do something else? What about after-wards? Like in my procedure, there are surely many points to go wrong. I like this way because it reuses the used gasoline. In my cooking oil thing, I binned it. But here the cost must be very near 0 or is it? Anyway very promising tip! Thanks.
    – user652
    Mar 29, 2011 at 20:04
  • 1
    Um. The flash point is the lowest temperature at which the vapour will burn in air. Low flash point = more dangerous. Mar 24, 2019 at 23:09

The most frugal is not to intensively clean these parts except at the end of the tour when you overhaul your bike.

Simply brushing off the dirt with a cleaning brush, toothbrush, or rag and relubricating with a good dry lube will get you most of the benefits with little of the mess. And it’s a lighter kit.

You don’t need a spotless bike.

  • Brushes are expensive. You really don’t need anything more than a rag! I have never found degreasing to provide tangible benefits beyond “looking” clean.
    – Rider_X
    Mar 25, 2019 at 1:51
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    @Rider_X - Used toothbrushes are fairly cheap. Mar 25, 2019 at 2:04
  • @DanielRHicks I always forget which is my real toothbrush and which is my cleaning brush. Well, fluoride is good for cogs and grease is good for teeth, right? :)
    – RoboKaren
    Mar 25, 2019 at 19:03
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    @RoboKaren - You don't understand. You use your companion's toothbrush! Mar 25, 2019 at 19:47

You can see below how I cleaned my cassette with grocery store stuff like cooking oil and hand-cleaner. It worked very well but I used about 0.2-0.5 liter cooking oil, material cost perhaps 0.1-0.5EUR (but very dirty cassette and I think I could use less).

This brush was going to bin, reuse at the best. Cost = 0. The other side of the brush is hacked to clean some in-between parts, you need a knife for it, again cost = 0. I used also a braking cable to some parts.

enter image description here

I used a braking cable to get the dirt between the cogs and other places, worked well, needless to buy expensive Par.* plastic things.

enter image description here

Picture before final cleaning where it became like new but good comparison to new one. Sorry different products actually, the old cassette is done with dimmer metal and a bit heavier. On the surface, you can see the cooking oil.

enter image description here

Cleaning the cooking oil off can be a hurdle, you don't want it while riding because it will go rancid more here. If your hands stand or you have hand-protections, you may want to try cloth-cleaning-stuff, cheap bulk grocery store stuff. I have tried it and it is a bit more effective to hand-cleaner stuff to take the oil out, particularly with running hot water. But if you cannot take the cooking oil off, even with hand-cleaner, cloth-cleaner, running water and brushing, for some odd reason you may want to try the petroleum products suggested by this answer. I have never used petroleum products but they should work but maybe too expensive in your location.

Cooking oil has transformed the initial salty-dirty-bad-stuff to easier cooking-oil-mess. I am still uncertain to which extent the cooking oil can be bad to the chain particularly if left rancid, perhaps no worry at all if you can take the most of it out and perhaps it will go out when you ride some kms, anyway working well for me.


I did the same that I do at home, I used diesel and a rag. If there's residue, it won't wash away much lubricant, as diesel is an oil itself (a pretty light one). It'll work well along oily lubricants. If instead you're using wax, I think you might want to reapply the wax at the end of the first day.

At home I reuse the dirty diesel after it's been decanting (sitting) for a few days: a couple liters will last you for years. When touring I try to burn it.

Diesel is available anywhere, but it might be difficult to find a place that only sells you half a liter. You might ask some motorist or trucker to spill a little bit for you, or you might otherwise go looking for a bottle of kerosene if you're not too deep in the woods (that stuff is even better at cleaning). Cheers

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