My question is whether there is anything "special" about the Bicycle-Specific Branded Chain degreasers or whether the much cheaper alternatives are just as good. I've used the ParkTool CB-2 (http://www.parktool.com/product/citrus-chainbrite-CB-2) but it's really expensive. I'm wondering whether Simple Green, Purple Stuff, or any of the various Citrus Degreasers that you can get at the hardware store by the gallon are suitable. We ride a lot in our family and I'm presently maintaining 5 bikes, so although I try to use the same "batch" each time in the chain cleaning tool, then use that to wet my brushes for the cogs, etc., it still gets pretty pricey since each bottle only gets me through about 3 cleanings. If it matters, our two road bikes are Ultegra (circa 2003) and the others are cross/mountain bikes that see mostly road use. I'm not dealing with offroad sludge. The guys at my FLBS told me they really like the "real stuff," and that other cleaners might damage my drivetrain. I know these guys pretty well and they don't usually push very hard, so I think they really believe it, but I don't know what would be "special" chemically about bike-specific products vs. the others.

I'm new here and this is my first questions, so feedback is welcome. I did try to search first, and found a similar question (What to use to clean your chain (and cogs)?) but that doesn't really address my specific issue, I don't think.

  • expensive? you can get that cleaner, 16oz, on amazon for $8 amazon.com/Park-Tool-Chainbrite-Cleaner-16-Ounce/dp/B000OZFIKI/… it might just be me, but that seems like a good deal for what it does.
    – fady
    Apr 12, 2012 at 17:08
  • I'll admit that the Amazon deal is quite a bit less than I was paying my FLBS for the Park Tool stuff, but I can also get a Gallon of Citrus degreaser at Lowe's for about $8, hence the question, since if it's 8-10x the price, I want to be sure it's necessary.
    – Dan Catlin
    Apr 14, 2012 at 1:38
  • I’d just like to point out: You don’t really have to degrease a chain regularly. Just rub off the dirt from the outside and oil it, then rub off the excessive oil.
    – Michael
    Mar 19, 2018 at 14:45

3 Answers 3


For degreasing I don't think it's that important to use a bicycle-specific product -- any reputable "parts degreaser" from a hardware store or auto parts place should suffice.

I would recommend avoiding "do all" cleaner/degreasers that claim to wash your dishes and do your laundry as well. Stick to a "parts degreaser" or something of that ilk.

And, of course, thoroughly wipe dry the chain after cleaning, and relube with an appropriate chain lube. Here using a bike-specific product is somewhat more critical.


A cheap option that I have used before consists of a coffee can and kerosene. Throw the chain and cassette in there overnight to get most of the dirt, grime, and old lube off. Make sure to thoroughly lube your chain after this treatment.

Any solvent will work. The best option is to keep your chain lubed and wipe off the excess. The new lube will actually get the old stuff off!


I think the difference between chain degreasers and general purpose degreasers is the strength.A general purpose degreaser has one job to remove as much grease as possible.What you really want in a chain degreaser is to remove only the heaviest gunk and grime but leaves the the factory grease between the plates.If I were to use any of the general cleaners you mentioned I'd start with it very diluted. You want it to just strong to clean outer plates.

  • What would you dilute it with?
    – prototoast
    Apr 7, 2012 at 14:09
  • Dilute with water,apply,clean the chain,dry it,shop vac or low pressure air works well,relube.
    – mikes
    Apr 7, 2012 at 14:11
  • 1
    If you want to leave the factory grease you should wipe the chain with a rag. The OP sounds like a chain bath cleaning machine is used.
    – Rider_X
    Nov 9, 2018 at 15:58

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