Today I cleaned my chain with the Park tool CM-52 and it was really effective. However, I ran through half of the park tool bicycle degreaser. I'm thinking of purchasing this degreaser from my local hardware store. Thoughts?


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    Best bet is for you to get the MSDS for each product, and compare their active ingredients.
    – Criggie
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 10:37
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    Leave the fluid in the chain washer between uses. (Set it carefully on a protected location on a shelf, or maybe even fix up a box with pads inside to hold it upright and catch any spills.) Unless your chain is exceptionally dirty there is no need to change the fluid until after 4-5 uses. Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 12:59
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    Alternatively get a funnel and a dedicated chemicals bottle or an identical empty cleaner bottle (to avoid life threatening mix-ups) and fill the partly used cleaner in there.
    – Carel
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 15:26
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    I use WD40 as my solvent. Utilizing a drip pan to catch the dirty solvent, I collect it in a plastic container. After a few days of lying still on the shelf, many of the solids settle out, and I decant the WD40 off into another container for use on another job.
    – Jeff
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 3:52
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    Probably not a good idea, but gasoline used to be a common and inexpensive solvent. Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 2:28

4 Answers 4


My fave chain cleaner is isopropyl alcohol. Cleans well and evaporates. Right now I use a jug of hand sanitizer that is alcohol plus aloe. Cheapish and readily available.

  • It is a good liquid to clean a brake rotor, but I doubt it will be too effective for chain. Even a simple soapy water should be better. Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 10:18
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    I use alcohol as a second pass after de greasing with paint thinner. To dry and evaporate chemical traces (grease and degreaser leftovers). Is alcohol enought to degrease wax lube? Wet lube? Commented Dec 19, 2022 at 11:27

I use industrial citrus degreaser, diluted according to the directions printed on the jug. It works fine. (This is, according to the hardware storekeeper, most often used by restaurants to clean out their grease traps, so it's no lightweight product, and comes with mandatory safety and ingredient labels.)

Of course with any water-based degreaser it's super important to to wash out lingering grit and degreaser residue. Rinse the chain carefully with water, then let the chain dry, then wipe it off, before putting on the lubricant you use.

You can use a lot of citrusy things as a cleaner. I've even used the orange Fanta soft drink in a pinch once. Just wash it off.


İsopropyl alcohol is not strong enough to degrease a chain. For fast work, I use acetone.


Another option is to use the standing time between chain cleans to let the solids settle out, and decant the top part of the liquid off, which should be reusable.

If you can put a lid on the bottle/jar where you store the solvent, then leave it to sit quietly for a month.

This works best with a wide-mouthed glass jar with a lid that seals. You can see into it and the plastic won't be attacked by the solvent over time.

Simply carefully pour off the top part of the liquid into a second jar, and as soon as the stream gets a little murky then stop and dispose of the last part. This may be as little as 5% of the mix, or as much as 1/3.

Optionally top-up your second jar with a little more fresh fluid and let the whole process run over the next ~month between cleanings.

  • That is amazing, I didn't know you could do that. Could I do this with any bike chain degreaser, do you think, like WD-40 for example? Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 21:00
  • @VladimirDespotovic give it a try- it'll only cost you a clean glass jar. Basically you're allowing the larger solids to settle to the bottom and then decant the cleaner liquid off the top.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 22:58

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