How to clean a bicycle chain


How to clean a bicycle chain


Dirty bike chains lead to substandard performance. Dirty chains stick, slip and have difficulty shifting. There are few things worse than a failing chain on a long mountain climb. Cleaning your bike chain is possible on or off the bike. Cleaning on the bike is prudent for preventative maintenance but removing the chain is necessary when dirt and grime has worked into difficult to reach places.

Step One

Obtain two glass jars with watertight lids, a funnel with 150mm (6 inch) diameter, clean rags, kerosene or lighting paraffin.

Step Two

Remove the bicycle chain using a chain breaker or pry off the master link. Place the chain in a first jar, shake it down and cover with the kerosene. Replace the lid.

Step Three

Allow to soak a few minutes. Meanwhile, place the funnel in the second jar and arrange a piece of cloth inside it as a filter. Shake or swirl the chain in the first jar for a minute or so.

Step Four

Dump the contents of the first jar into the funnel. Allow to drain a few minutes.

Step Five

Meanwhile wipe out the first jar and rinse into the funnel with clean kerosene. Replace the chain in the first jar, add kerosene and soak and shake or swirl again.

Step Six

Lay out newspaper, remove the chain from the jar slowly, allowing the kerosene to drain, then spread the chain on the newspaper to dry.

Step Seven

Pour the kerosene from the first jar into the second through the filter, seal the second jar and store for re-use.

Step Eight

Clean out the first jar, seal and store.

Step Nine

Relubricate the chain with recommended cycle chain lubricant when dry.

Step Ten

Replace chain on bicycle.


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