I was using Park Tool degreaser but I ran out of it. Is it safe to use a non-bike-specific degreaser?

The one I am using is the Screwfix No nonsense Heavy Duty Degreaser 5lt. I will probably switch to the Muc Off degreaser which is biodegradable but I just wanted to know if the one I am using is safe on bikes. I haven't done anything so far but just checking. Also is it safe to use WD-40 to do the same job?

  • 8
    "bike specific degrease" -> "Buy many large drums of bog-standard degreaser for $0.10/liter, put into many 100 ml bottles, label bottles with the word bicycle, charge $10.00/liter" There's nothing special about bicycles - they're machinery just like every other piece of machinery. Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 14:47
  • Avoid Simple Green — apparently there's been issues with hydrogen embrittlement.
    – MaplePanda
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 4:46

3 Answers 3


This depends on which part of the bike you are degreasing.

For degreasing the chain, whatever works for you should be fine. In the worst case, you will learn that the particular type of degreaser does not work to break the muck of your chain. Every non-corroding substance may be tried: from plain water through dish soap detergent up to aceton, kerosene and petrol (the last one is dangerously flammable!).

As an example, I usually use bicycle-specific environmentally friendly degreasers. When I am out of them (like it is now), I use dish soap and heavy scrubbing. For a certain label of PFTE lube (I no longer use it), I have discovered that nothing would solve it except for soaking in acetone or lye. That lube worked great while it lasted, but washing it away was near impossible.

The classic WD-40 will also work as degreaser in many cases (not as lubricant however). Although, it is a quite expensive fluid for such a task. Lacking anything else at hand, I would not hesitate to apply it.

For any other surface on the bike, including brake rotors, frame paint etc., more care must be taken, unless you are prepared to replace a ruined part.

For brake rotors, use water if you do not have a brake-specific detergent. After washing brakes, the initial braking efficiency may decrease for a short period, then return back to normal. Be prepared for it.

  • For brake rotors, water plus isopropyl alcohol is a good combination. Note that while rubbing alcohol is often based on isopropanol, it's likely to not be suitable as it can leave an oily residue from the other ingredients. Pre-injection swabs and many glasses wipes (test them) work well.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 18:10
  • 2
    And if you have a need for lots of WD40, it's available industrially in 5 litre bottles without aerosol. I'd rather use something else for grease dilution.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 18:11
  • 1
    Acetone is about as flammable as petrol.
    – vidarlo
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 13:22

Is it safe to use a non-bike-specific degreaser?

The word "safe" has can be complicated.

  • Safe in that it won't damage the chain only?
  • Safe in that it won't damage the paint or other parts on the bike?
  • Safe in that it won't damage people?

The producer of the product will tell you that the product is safe if used as directed. The instructions that come with the product as well as the safety data sheet are needed to understand how to use a product.

For Screwfix No nonsense Heavy Duty Degreaser there is a safety data sheet that describes the conditions in which it is safe to use the product.

In order to be safe for people the SDS recommends gloves and eye covering when splashing is a possibility when the product is used according to the instructions:

8.2 Exposure controls
· Personal protective equipment:
· General protective and hygienic measures:
Keep away from foodstuffs, beverages and feed. Immediately remove all soiled and contaminated clothing Wash hands before breaks and at the end of work.
Avoid contact with the skin.
Avoid contact with the eyes and skin.
· Respiratory protection: Not required.

The SDS does not list any hazards related to reacting with plastics or metals or paint.

  • 3
    4. "Safe for the environment" might be a consideration too.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 18:16
  • 2
    @Criggie great point!
    – David D
    Commented Dec 20, 2021 at 19:04

ask a no-nonsense car mechanic drenched in car oils all day, if you have a expensive bike, then yea go nuts and pamper it as your heart wishes, but if you have a simple bike, that you just need it to work than use whatever oil, and a comon sense, ..

my case? i have a bike that once evry two years i take it apart, i take a open recipient i put the chain in it, and drench it, in whatever oil/or lubricat i find.

You allso can buy a compressed air botle of lubricant, that usualy will do the job for all your cycle parts.

  • 2
    Hello Cris, welcome to Stack Exchange. Unfortunately, your answer misses the point of the question. Would you answer on the degreaser rather than giving general maintenance advise? Have a look at the tour to learn how Stack Exchange works.
    – gschenk
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 9:24
  • i think i did., i salute you!
    – Cris
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 13:20
  • Thanks for all the answers, I think for now I will use the WD40 and I will order a bike specific degreaser for which is biodegradable just to be on the safe side, thanks everyone.
    – Charlie
    Commented Dec 21, 2021 at 14:58

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