How To Clean A Bike Chain

Are you facing difficulties while changing gear of your bicycle?


Recently, is your bicycle not performing as expected?

If your answer is “YES”, look into your bicycle chain.

The bike chain is one of the essential parts of your bicycle that shifts the energy of your pedaling to the wheels. It’s typically the dirtiest part, too.

Hence, to achieve the expected performance from your bike, you should regularly clean your bike chain. It’ll enhance not only your performance but also the longevity of your bike.

But, do you know how to clean a bike chain?

If your answer is “ NO”, don’t be worried.

We’re here to inform you how you can easily and simply clean your bike chain.

What you’ll need is just patience to read our article on how to clean a bike chain.

Hope, you’ll go through our discussion and be equipped with all the necessary knowledge to get the job done by yourself.

Let’s Go!

 Before proceeding to step by step discussions, a quick look at some of the necessary points will help you to get a clear idea on the whole matter.

What Are The Bad Effects Of A Dirty Bike Chain?

A dirty bike chain:

  • Enhances the rate of chain wear
  • Decrease the tractability of chain links
  • Increase rate of wear of Drivetrain cogs and derailleur assemblies
  • Reduce shifting performance of the chain

When You’ll Clean and Lube Your Bike Chain?

Sequence 1:

  • Stand to the side of your bike and look at the chain.
  • Lift the rear wheel off the ground.
  • Slowly rotate the nearest pedal.
  • Check the links that don’t bend easily while passing through the rear derailleur.

Sequence 2:

  • Try to hear the squeaks of the chain while riding.

If the links don’t bend easily or you hear squeaks from the chain, your chain needs to be cleaned and lubricated.

How To Clean A Bike Chain: Simple Procedure

There are two procedures to follow:

  • Spot-cleaning procedure
  • Occasional off-bike cleaning procedure


If your bike chain is still on your bike, follow the steps below to clean it:

  • Take a firm brush or old toothbrush and brush out all the chain links.
  • Using a chain lubricant, re-lubricate the chain links.
  • Remove the excess lubricant with a dry, clean rag.

 Occasional Off-Bike Cleaning Procedure

Every few months, remove the chain from your bike and completely clean it.

For your easy to understand, we’ve divided our discussion into three parts.

 1: Check the bike chain       

 2: Bike chain cleaning procedure         

 3: Reinstall the bike chain

Part 1: Check The Bike Chain

A quick look is enough to tell you whether your bike chain needs cleaning. You can also feel the chain with your finger. If you feel the chain coated with filth, it’s time to clean. If you’re a regular cyclist, you should clean your bike chain once every week.

Part 2: Bike Chain Cleaning Procedure

Collect the necessary materials

Collect the following materials to make the cleaning job easier:

  • Hand gloves
  • Bike chain lubricant
  • Degreaser
  • A clean rag
  • A wire clothes hanger
  • Bottles (2 PCs.)

Ready the bottles

  • Take enough degreaser in one bottle.
  • Take hot water in another bottle.

Detach the chain from the bike

  • Find the master link
  • Slide the pin to open the master link
  • Draw out the chain by feeding it through the Drivetrain

Degrease the bike chain

  • Place the chain in the bottle containing degreaser.
  • Close the bottle with the lid
  • Shake up the bottle for a few minutes so that the degreaser resolves even the most stubborn and thickest filth of the chain.
  • Allow the chain to soak for 20 minutes.

Shift the chain to the other bottle

  • Pull out the chain from the degreaser bottle. You can use a cloth hanger to hook it.
  • Shift the chain to the bottle containing hot water.
  • Close the bottle with the lid.
  • Shake the bottle for several minutes.
  • Pull out the chain from the bottle.
  • Remove the moisture with the clean rag


Part 3: Reinstall The Bike Chain

Reset the chain back in the Drivetrain

Depending on the types of your bike, setting your bike chain will be unique. Follow the pictures (that you took with your phone) of the wheel mechanism to set the chain into the Drivetrain perfectly.

You can take the help of a manual or tutorial online.

Reconnect the master link

  • Lay and thread the chain into the Drivetrain with one end.
  • Slide the master link pin back into its’ slot and reattach the chain.
  • It’s easy to reconnect the master link of the chain if the ends of the chain meet at the middle point between the wheels.
  • Make sure that the master link is fastened correctly. If it is set unevenly in the slots, it may warp.

Lubricate the bike chain

Proper lubrication of the chain will ensure its’ smooth running. It also keeps safe the chain from the elements.

  • Hold the lubricant bottle above the top-middle part of the chain.
  • Press the bottle slightly
  • Spin the pedals slowly
  • Complete a full revolution of the chain

 Your bike is now ready to ride.


  • Carefully choice the lubricant for the bike chain.
  • The products like CRC or WD-40 aren’t chain lubricants, rather these are bike cleaner. So, avoid using these products for chain lubrication.
  • Never use the degreasing agents near an open flame as these are harsh and flammable.
  • Try to use hand gloves while handling degreasing agents.


You’ve just finished reading our discussion on how to clean a bike chain.

Definitely, you’ve found it very simple and useful.

Spot-cleaning or Occasional off-bike cleaning- whatever your bike chain require, just follow our step-by-step procedure to get the job done.


To have an enjoyable ride, you should keep your bike chain in good condition. And keeping your bike chain in good condition for a long time is possible only if you clean it regularly and perfectly.

A well-maintained, well-lubricated, as well as well-cleaned bike chain, can ensure your riding efficiency on the road.

Joe Carrow

Product reviewer & passionate blogger. Beside writing for this blog, I spend my time crafting research based contents for HuffingtonPost, Lifehacker & Forbes!

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