Simple question, however, I am used to cleaning my bike at my parents house, I use some eco bike spray stuff leave it for a little then rub and hose down (I normally get it quite dirty riding down dirt tracks in West Sussex, UK).

I am now at University and our flat has no access to a garden or hose pipe, the best place / possible way I can think to clean it is out on the pavement next to a busy road with a tub of water and a sponge.

Would anyone recommend taking their bike to a garage and jet washing it down? Anyone found a really easy way to clean their bike with limited space?

Don't forget to TF2, thanks.

  • Strap it to the roof of your car and drive through a car wash. Or, a little more seriously, look around for a car wash with a manual wand washer. (Sometimes this is there for "engine washing" or motorcycle washing or whatever.) Just be careful to not direct the spray into any bearings. Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 18:13

6 Answers 6


In my experience, the only part which is problematic to clean is the chain (and possibly drivetrain).

In your situation, I would do the following:

  1. Take the chain apart from the bike, and clean it shaking inside a plastic container with a small amount of your preferred degreaser or solvent, replacing the solvent a few times untill it comes out clean. This can be made very cleanly (specially if you wrap the plastic container inside one or two old socks before shaking);
  2. Take the bike to somewhere else outside, where you can wash everything else with soap, water and a brush. A bit of degreaser first, on the drivetrain, might be needed. A hose would be very helpful. Dish detergent might be fine. Let the drivetrain as the last part to clean, so not to brush the whole bike with an already dirty/greased brush.

Another option is to send it to the bike shop and spend a little, but think about the time saved also. Depending on each person, spending money might be better than spending time.

  • Useful thanks, hopefully no one will mind me washing my bike on the pavement.
    – Wez
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 20:51
  • Nothing wrong with hosing down the chain, if it's muddy. Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 23:30
  • 2
    10+ speed chains are far from easy to disassemble. As far as I know, by manufacturer advice, a new pin or quick link is needed after each disassembly.
    – Vorac
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 8:28

In the winter when the garden hose is disconnected I use a watering can filled with warm water to wash the dirt/salt off the bike before taking it in. I use mild detergent soap to speed up the removal of oil and grease then pour the warm water from the can to remove the soap. Watering can to clean the bike in winter

  • That is a nice stand and I'd like to get something similar, mind telling me the brand/model and what you picked it up for?
    – aolszowka
    Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 13:20

My (road) bike cleaning routine is pretty simple:

  • Remove as much black gunk as possible from the chain, chainrings, front derailleur and rear derailleur jockey wheels using kitchen towel (as long as you don't rub too hard, the paper doesn't shred).
  • Remove rear wheel and use a rag to clean between the sprockets.
  • Clean bike using warm water with a dash of washing up liquid, a big sponge and a cylindrical brush for brake calipers, under the saddle and other tricky places.

A work stand makes this process much easier, plus you can remove both wheels to clean them more easily.

Considering it is acceptable for people wash their cars in the street, I can't see how anyone could complain about you cleaning your bike.

If you do use a pressure washer, don't spray around the rear hub or the bottom bracket area, as this can blast the grease out from between the bearings.


I have a similar living situation to yours, and I've had good luck cleaning my bike off with the brush attachment of a vacuum cleaner. I just bring my bike inside, and wait for the mud to dry. Then I take the hose, and brush off as much of it as I can. From that point, when I want to make it cleaner, I can use a rag, and some mild cleaning solution to touch up on the rest. Obviously the drivetrain needs separate attention.

You should avoid "jet washing" your bike. Pressurized water can easily find its way into bearings (usually bringing dirt with it), and ruin your bike.


For the Frame: I wash my bike with a sponge and warm water and I usually have a towel that is under my bike so I can squeeze the sponge in hard to get areas and the towel grabs the excess under.

I wipe off with a dry cloth.

For the chain: same as some comments above.



I only clean the braking surfaces, drivetrain and derailers. I also clean the inside of the rims and the tubes as a way of warding off punctures. For the chain I point a rag with a thin metal rod when its on the bike and shove it into each link, and used cotton buds are similar. I also take the opportunity to inspect the tyres for bits stuck in them.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.