I would like to wash my bike.

Which cautionary steps should I take?

Which parts of a Bike are water sensitive?

Which steps should I take after bike wash?

  • 4
    Rule number one: Don't. Unless really cruddy from riding in mud, there is no functional reason to clean a bike, beyond keeping the chain clean. Feb 28, 2016 at 13:16
  • For a full cleaning youtube.com/watch?v=5ak4AzlUz5Q Something I got from the video is if you use a de-greaser then you need to use soap to remove the de-greaser before lubing or it will just break down the lube
    – paparazzo
    Feb 28, 2016 at 16:02
  • 2
    @DanielRHicks cleaning is a good time to inspect. I can't tell you how many potential problems I caught while cleaning... Too many to count.
    – Rider_X
    Feb 28, 2016 at 19:50
  • Also look at this older question how to wash a bike properly that has slightly different answers but is otherwise a dupe.
    – Móż
    Mar 7, 2016 at 22:23

2 Answers 2


Depends a little on what conditions you ride in, but the basic steps are all the same.

  1. Take the bike outside. If you have a leather saddle, remove it. If you have a bike computer then remove that too, as well as any bags or tools.
  2. Rinse the bike with a shower setting on your hose. Do not use any sort of jet.
  3. use biodegradable dishwash and warm water along with a car-cleaning cloth, or an old dish brush. Get the soapy water into every crevasse and cranny. There are a lot of them. An old toothbrush helps too.
  4. Then rinse the dirty soapy water off, and see the areas you missed. Repeat the soapy bit on those areas.
  5. Once the bike is rinsed off, dry it in the sunlight.
  6. Then you need to relubricate the chain using a suitable chain lube.

If your tyres are messy, a stiff bristled brush can help (some muds or cow pies are really hard to shift)

If you want to get all fancy, apply some tyre black once the bike is totally dry. Avoid getting any on your rims or brakes though.

That leather saddle? Proofide it according to the instructions on the tin.

NO PRESSURE WASHERS! This can drive water and dirt into bearings. Instead, take your time and eyeball your whole bike while cleaning.

  • note: some people dislike the idea of using hoses etc becasue water can get anywhere then. Doesn't make much of sense if you also ride the bike in heavy rain of course. Anyway, omitting step 2 and 4 and just properly cleaning with a moist cloth+brush will get your bike just as clean in my experience and reduces the chance of getting water inside the frame etc.
    – stijn
    Feb 28, 2016 at 11:53
  • 1
    Using a hose is very different from rain. It can direct pressurized water into places rain water cannot get into (e.g. wheel and bottom bracket bearing).
    – mattnz
    Feb 28, 2016 at 20:46
  • There's really no reason to use a hose. A bucket full of soapy water and a sponge will get the bike plenty wet where you want it wet and not where you don't.
    – jimchristie
    Feb 28, 2016 at 22:44
  • 1
    @frisbee I don't own a car, but I get your point. I meant prior to washing. I'd actually rinse it the same way I washed it, but without the soap. I'd also hand dry, but that's not as important.
    – jimchristie
    Feb 28, 2016 at 22:54
  • 1
    @jimirings Cool but you did say "no reason to use a hose". If you have a lot of dirt or mud it is worth rinsing first. Even hand dry a rinse would remove more soap.
    – paparazzo
    Feb 28, 2016 at 23:00

There are two parts in a bicycle you need to keep clean, rest is just aesthetics. Some bicycles have other moving parts, suchs as suspension forks, that need to be kept clean.

  1. Drivetrain (chain, cassette, chainrings)
  2. Brake surfaces (either disc or rim) and brake pads

For drivetrain the steps are:

  1. Use degreaser (preferably one made for bicycle cleaning as they usually don't contain salt) on oily parts and clean the chain
  2. Wait until chain is dry and lubricate it
  3. Clean all excess oil from chain

For braking surcafes and pads the steps are:

  1. Rinse pads and surfaces
  2. Clean with a clean (avoid oil contamination) rag

If you wish to clean other parts of the bicycle, for example avoid sand and mud in your living room, follow these steps:

  1. Check if there is something water sensitive, like lights or other electronics, and remove them
  2. Use water hose (avoid pressurized water) or bucket&brush and remove any excess dirt from the bicycle
  3. Use soapy (again, avoid salty cleaners) water and brush to clean the surfaces
  4. Use water hose or bucket&brush to rinse away the soapy water
  5. Optionally dry the bicycle with a clean rag and use bicycle wax
  • 1
    This seems to be a list of "how to clean a bike" rather than answering the question, which is about how to avoid damaging the bike while washing it and what to do afterwards.
    – Móż
    Mar 5, 2016 at 22:42
  • I thought the steps made more sense as a comprehensive list. Cautionary steps are avoiding oil contamination and salty cleaners. There are no water sensitive parts in a typical bicycle so it is not an issue.
    – mkpaa
    Mar 5, 2016 at 23:42
  • @mkpaa There are so water sensitive parts in a typical bicycle. Bearings, and electronics, and leather, and some kinds of padding. You even referenced electronic things in your own answer.
    – Criggie
    Mar 6, 2016 at 2:27
  • "Average" bicycle is a rough estimate. Hubs, headset and bottom bracket are usually sealed properly from (non pressurized) water. Also "average" bicycle doesn't have electronics or leather saddle.
    – mkpaa
    Mar 6, 2016 at 15:30

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