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I've just started to use Muc Off's chain machine with its carbon-safe, biodegradable degreaser.

I really like the outcome, and I guess its effectiveness come from its strength (therefore I am also a bit worried if it can damage the parts). After I apply the degreaser on the chain + cassette, I usually just wipe off the bike with a wet microfiber cloth + the chain and the cassette with some paper towel. Is that enough or should I also rinse it off with water?

Thanks

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  • I would not risk leaving a degreaser on the bike without hosing off. If you cannot wash it off, probably better to use something like a combined cleaner and lube - e.g. Finish Line 1 Step
    – mattnz
    Jul 27, 2022 at 21:31

2 Answers 2

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In the general case, some degreasers can cause hydrogen embrittlement in steel if left in prolonged contact. The worst case result is a broken chain. Simple Green's standard formulation is one example. If using that or a similar formulation, you could just not soak your chain in it for more than a few minutes, which most riders don't need to do anyway. You could search for an aerospace-safe degreaser, and Simple Green actually has such a formulation. The biodegradable Muc Off product identified in the original post shouldn't cause hydrogen embrittlement.

If you use something like a spray on degreaser, you also want to avoid spraying it towards your bearings. For example, if you spray it on your cassette, it's possible it might seep into the bearings. If it does bypass the rubber seals, it would attack the grease inside the bearings. The rubber itself shouldn't be attacked by degreasers, however. It's probably harder to have this scenario happen.

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  • However even though the seals on my Shimano freehubs let dirt in, they don't seem to come to harm from the odd stray bit of degreaser (I sometimes use in on my RD, rather than on the cassette). There's plenty of grease left to bind the dirt in my freehubs as that's the failure mode. These are degreasers with detergent in, not pure solvent (the last one was called "citrus degreaser" but felt soapy)
    – Chris H
    Jul 27, 2022 at 15:17
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The instructions for Muc Off products are usually printed on the can/bottle. They can also be found on the product page on their website.

In the case of the biodegradable degreaser:

  • Shake can to activate formula and apply to selected area for cleaning.
  • Leave up to 5 minutes and use a brush or cloth to agitate stubborn grease, grime and other contaminants.
  • Rinse with fresh, clean water and allow to dry or wipe away any excess with a clean cloth.

https://muc-off.com/collections/chain-cleaners/products/bio-degreaser-500-ml

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  • Is rinsing necessary? I usually do it indoor therefore that part would be a bit complicated.
    – Mat
    Jul 27, 2022 at 11:28
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    If you don't wash off the degreaser, it will continue to degrease your new lubricant to some extent.
    – Noise
    Jul 27, 2022 at 12:32
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    @Noise: Does it? I thought degreasers are usually relatively volatile solvents which should evaporate quickly?
    – Michael
    Jul 27, 2022 at 15:04
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    @Michael many have both solvent and detergent components. But degreasing solvents aren't necessarily 100% volatile. For components I've taken off the bike I use first white spirit (mineral spirits) which isn't, then denatured alcohol, which is, then water - but that's for stuff that's pretty desperate like gummed up freehubs
    – Chris H
    Jul 27, 2022 at 15:20
  • I am one for the full rinse using a gentle spray upon the cassette, not a direct one that would impinge on a bearing, but gentle and thorough enough to clear out all of the degreaser. I immediately wick out any residual water between the plates of the chain with a dry paper towel (which shows if there is still water to wick out). Finally I always will reapply fresh lube to every link on both sides of the chain. I do this process pretty religiously so I do not forget to lube (which would be bad!) and get about 4,000 miles per chain on the road doing this "deep clean" every 250 miles or so.
    – Ted Hohl
    Jul 28, 2022 at 6:22

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