How to Clean and Lube Your Bike Chain: A Simple Guide

When it comes to bicycle maintenance, cleaning and lubing the chain is one of the most important tasks that you can do to keep your fixie,hybrid bike or any other bike running smoothly. A clean and well-lubricated bike chain will not only last longer, but it will also shift more smoothly and quietly. Cleaning and lubricating your chain regularly will also help prevent rust and corrosion. Take a look at the below statistics before going to the step by step process of Cleaning and Lubricating your bicycle chain

Statistics Data
Percentage of cyclists who fail to clean their chain 54%
Percentage of wear on chains due to lack of lubrication 35%
Cost of replacing a worn chain $50-$100

Preparation for Cleaning and Lubing Your Bike Chain

Before you begin to clean and lube your bike chain, it is important to make sure you have all the necessary tools and materials. Here are some things you will need:

  • Bike cleaning solution or degreaser
  • Chain lubricant
  • Clean rags or towels
  • Soft-bristled brush or toothbrush
  • Chain cleaning tool (optional)

Once you have all the necessary tools and materials, follow these steps:

  1. Remove any excess dirt or debris from the chain using a dry rag or towel. This will make the cleaning process more effective.
  2. Apply a generous amount of bike cleaning solution or degreaser to the chain. Use a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush to scrub the chain thoroughly, making sure to get into all the nooks and crannies.
  3. Rinse the chain with clean water to remove all the cleaning solution or degreaser. Dry the chain with a clean towel.
  4. Apply a small amount of chain lubricant to the chain, making sure to cover all the links.
  5. Use a clean rag or towel to wipe off any excess lubricant.
  6. Spin the pedals a few times to distribute the lubricant evenly across the chain.

Now that your chain is clean and lubricated, you’re ready to hit the road. Remember to clean and lube your chain regularly to keep your bike running smoothly.

Bike cleaning solution or degreaser Chain lubricant
Removes dirt and grime Reduces friction
Helps cleaning process Protects chain
Improves chain performance Increases longevity

Removing Your Bike Chain

Before you can clean your bike chain, you will need to remove it. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Shift your bike to the smallest chainring and cog to avoid any tension in the chain.
  2. Use a chain tool to push out one of the pins holding a chain link together. If you don’t have a chain tool, you can still remove the chain with a pair of pliers and some brute force.
  3. Once the chain is separated, pull it off the chainring and derailleur jockey wheels.

That’s it! Your chain is now removed and ready to be cleaned and lubricated. Be sure to handle the chain carefully to prevent getting grease on your hands or clothes.

Cleaning Your Bike Chain

When it comes to cleaning your bike chain, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow to make sure it’s done right. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Choose the Right Cleaner

It’s important to choose a cleaner that’s designed specifically for bike chains. Avoid using harsh chemicals or degreasers that could damage your bike’s finish. Some popular chain cleaners include WD-40 Bike Chain Degreaser and Finish Line Speed Bike Degreaser.

2. Remove the Chain From Your Bike

To get a thorough clean, it’s best to remove your bike chain and soak it in the cleaning solution. You can use quick-release links to easily remove the chain, or use a chain tool to break it apart. you can also clean and lube your chain without removing it, but it is recommended to remove the chain for proper cleaning and lubing.

3. Soak the Chain in Cleaner

Once your chain is removed, soak it in the cleaning solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Typically, this will involve letting it soak for a few minutes.

4. Scrub the Chain

After the chain has soaked, use a chain cleaning brush to scrub away any remaining dirt and grime. Be sure to clean all sides of the chain thoroughly.

5. Rinse the Chain

Once you’ve scrubbed the chain, rinse it thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of the cleaning solution.

6. Dry the Chain

Finally, use a clean rag to dry the chain thoroughly. You may want to allow it to air dry for a few minutes before reinstalling it on your bike. Following these steps will help keep your bike chain clean and running smoothly. Remember to clean your chain regularly to prolong its life and ensure optimal performance.

Drying Your Bike Chain

Once you have cleaned your bike chain thoroughly, it’s essential to remove any excess water from it to avoid rust formation. Here’s how to dry your bike chain:

  1. Wipe the chain down with a dry cloth: After washing, use a clean, dry towel or rag to get rid of any remaining moisture on the chain and the sprockets.
  2. Let it air-dry: Place your bike in a place where it can dry naturally to allow any remaining moisture to evaporate. If you’re in a hurry, you can use a fan to speed up the drying process. If you are not in a hurry have a sip of coffee and let it dry normally.
  3. Use a hairdryer: Alternatively, you can use a hairdryer. Use the setting on low and keep the dryer about three to four inches away from the chain. Keep moving the dryer, so no area gets too hot.
  4. Apply a lubricant: Once your chain is entirely dry, apply the lubricant of your choice following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Remember to avoid using a high-pressure hose when washing your bike because it can force water into the internal areas of your bike, causing damage. Now that you’ve learned how to clean your bike chain, ensure you clean it regularly and always dry it after cleaning.

Important Points to Note:
– Avoid using solvents or WD-40 to dry your chain as they could cause damage to your bike’s parts.
– Be sure to remove the excess lubricant after applying to prevent the accumulation of grime and dirt.
– Let the lubricant sit for a few hours or overnight before riding to let it dry entirely.

Lubricating Your Bike Chain

Once you have thoroughly cleaned your bike chain, it’s time to lubricate it. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Choose the Right Lubricant Choosing the right lubricant for your bike chain is crucial. You should choose a lubricant that is specifically designed for bike chains. Avoid using household oils such as WD-40 as they can attract dirt and dust, causing your chain to accumulate grime.
  2. Apply the Lubricant The next step is to apply the lubricant to your bike chain. Place a small drop of lubricant on each of the chain links while slowly rotating the pedals in reverse. You only need a small amount of lubricant, so don’t overdo it.
  3. Wipe Off the Excess Lubricant After applying the lubricant, wipe off any excess with a clean rag or paper towel. This will prevent the lubricant from attracting dirt and dust, which can cause your chain to become dirty quickly.
  4. Let the Lubricant Dry Give the lubricant some time to dry before you ride your bike. This will ensure that it adheres properly to the chain and doesn’t attract dirt and dust.

Here are some additional tips on lubricating your bike chain:

  • If you ride your bike in wet or muddy conditions, you may need to lubricate your chain more frequently.
  • Avoid using too much lubricant, as this can cause your chain to become dirty faster.
  • Always wipe off excess lubricant to prevent attracting dirt and dust.
  • Consider using a chain lubricant that is specifically designed for the weather conditions you will be riding in (i.e. wet or dry conditions).

Remember, a well-lubricated bike chain will help your bike perform better, last longer, and feel smoother when riding.

Reinstalling Your Bike Chain

Once you have cleaned and lubed your bike chain, it’s time to reinstall it. Here’s how:

  1. Hold the chain on the largest chainring at the front of the bike and the largest cog at the back.
  2. Gently push the bike forward to loop the chain around the chainring.
  3. Carefully guide the chain onto the cassette, making sure each link is properly engaged.
  4. Shift through all the gears to ensure the chain is running smoothly.

A few things to note:

  • Make sure the chain is properly lubricated before reinstalling.
  • Check the chain for any damage or wear before reinstalling, as a damaged chain could cause further damage to your bike.
  • Adjust the rear derailleur as necessary to ensure smooth shifting.

Remember that proper maintenance of your bike chain is essential for a smooth and enjoyable ride. By regularly cleaning and lubing your chain, you can extend its lifespan and keep it running smoothly.

Checking Your Bike Chain for Wear

Before you start cleaning and lubing your bike chain, it’s important to check it for wear and tear. A worn-out chain can cause shifting problems and even damage other parts of your bike. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Use a chain checker tool to measure the chain’s wear. If the tool indicates that the chain has stretched beyond its recommended length, it’s time to replace it.
  • Step 2: Check for signs of rust or corrosion on the chain. If you see any, it’s a good idea to replace the chain so that it doesn’t cause further damage to your bike.
  • Step 3: Look for chain “stretch” around the cassette. If the chain appears to be stretched like an old rubber band, it’s time to replace it.
  • Step 4: Inspect the pins for signs of damage or wear. If there is visible damage, such as cracks, it’s best to replace the chain.
  • Step 5: Spin the cranks backward and visually inspect the chain to see if any links have been damaged or bent. If any are damaged or bent, it’s best to replace the chain.

Regularly checking your bike chain for wear and tear is essential for keeping your bike running smoothly and avoiding costly repairs. Always replace your chain when it becomes worn out, and clean and lube it regularly to prolong its lifespan.

Type of Damage Action Required
Chain stretch Replace the chain
Rust/corrosion Replace the chain
Pin damage/wear Replace the chain
Bent or damaged links Replace the chain

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can i make my bike chain last longer?

To make your bike chain last longer, keep it clean, lubricate it properly, replace worn parts, use proper shifting technique, shift smoothly, store your bike properly, and avoid excessive tension.

Is it OK to use WD-40 on bike chain?

Using WD-40 as a lubricant for your bike chain is not recommended. While WD-40 can temporarily displace moisture and provide some lubrication, it is not designed specifically for bike chains and tends to attract dirt and grime, which can accelerate chain wear. It's better to use a lubricant that is specifically formulated for bike chains to ensure proper lubrication and protection.

Should i clean my bike chain after every ride?

Cleaning your bike chain after every ride is not necessary. However, it is recommended to clean it regularly, especially after riding in wet or muddy conditions, to maintain its longevity and performance.

Which bike chain cleaner is good?

There are several bike chain cleaners available in the market, and the best one can vary depending on personal preference. However, some popular and highly regarded options include the Park Tool Cyclone Chain Scrubber, the Finish Line Pro Chain Cleaner, and the Pedro's Chain Pig

Can I use coconut oil as chain lube?

While some people have used coconut oil as a makeshift bike chain lubricant, it is not recommended. Coconut oil lacks the necessary properties to provide proper lubrication and protection for your bike chain. It can also attract more dirt and grime, leading to increased wear and potential damage. It's best to use a lubricant specifically designed for bike chains to ensure optimal performance and longevity.


In conclusion, cleaning and lubricating your bike chain is an important part of maintenance that will help keep your bike running smoothly and prevent wear and tear on the chain. Here are some key takeaways from this guide:

  • Regular cleaning and lubrication can extend the life of your chain and improve your bike’s performance.
  • Use a degreaser to remove dirt, grime, and old lubricant from your chain before applying new lubricant.
  • Choose a lubricant that is appropriate for your riding conditions. Wet lubricants are best for wet weather and off-road riding, while dry lubricants are better for dry weather and road riding.
  • Be sure to wipe off any excess lubricant to prevent attracting dirt and causing buildup on your chain.
  • Consider investing in a chain cleaning tool to make the process easier and more effective.

Remember, taking care of your bike chain is just one part of proper bike maintenance. Regularly cleaning and lubricating your chain can help prevent expensive repairs and keep your bike running smoothly for years to come.

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