Back-to-basics bike cleaning

Rain, road grit and grime aren’t conducive to a smooth running machine, so if you’ve let your regular cleaning regime slide over the winter, now’s the time to get back on it in time for spring…


“Convenience is key to getting done the regular washing your bike needs,” says’s event support mechanic Simon Proctor.

“Having the essentials easily to hand after a ride will make you more likely to do it right every time. These include a bike workshop stand to hold your bike steady at a good height with the wheels off, as well as a bucket, assorted brushes, bike-wash, citrus degreaser, chain-cleaner and sponge.”

Quick wipe

If you’re a twice-daily bike commuter you’re pretty unlikely to have the time or the facilities for a complete bike wash twice a day. “But as a minimum after a wet ride, wipe dry the derailleurs, pedals, chain and cassette with a cloth,” says Proctor. “Then spray them with a water displacer spray containing lubricant and PTFE. Keep a can of spray and cloth at work too. The rest can be left until you get home.”

Daily grimed

You can’t leave a dirty wet bike overnight, so once home, wash the saddle and the seatpost so you can clamp the bike in a workstand and remove the wheels. “Use a brush and strong degreaser on the derailleurs, chain, chainrings and cassette,” says Proctor. “Then clean the whole bike and wheels from top to bottom with brushes, bike wash and sponge. Wipe dry, then relubricate immediately – especially the chain.”


You should look out for problems during your daily clean, but some specific cleaning and lubing jobs should be scheduled on a monthly basis too. “For example,” says Proctor, “don’t just inspect the outside of your tyres, remove them to check closely for cuts or embedded ‘sharps’. Also remove, clean, lubricate and refit the seatpost and clamp, pedals and brake callipers. Clean and check your cleats too, if you’re using clipless pedals.”

Discover more great features on every aspect of cycling and get ahead of the pack with a subscription to Cycling Plus magazine. Prudential RideLondon participants can click here for an exclusive offer.