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How to Make Your Bike Chain Squeaky Clean with Just Household Supplies

Written by Gary Johnson / Fact checked by Henry Speciale

how to clean a bike chain with household products

Do you want to extend your bike chain’s life? Well, doing maintenance from time to time is the best answer. That includes cleaning it thoroughly. Aside from affecting its life, a dirty bike also affects its own overall performance.

That’s why I highly recommend cleaning and lubricating your bike chain using cleaning rags and a simple degreaser. Carefully use these household supplies when cleaning. You can even remove the chain from the bicycle or not.

If you are interested in how to clean a bike chain with household products, check out this article.

Start Gathering


It’s time to get all the household products you need. These items will shock you in their cleaning ability:

Clean cloth


Get a handful of clean rags to wipe off grease and other wax-related grimes.



Brushes are handy in cleaning narrow and hard-to-reach areas. It is best to have different brush sizes that allow you to effectively remove stubborn grimes that water rinsing can’t get off. An old toothbrush is a good tool.



Water is the universal cleaning solution. You can use it even on your bike. However, you have to be careful if it goes through a high-pressure pipe because it may damage your bike’s sensitive bearing mechanism.



You will need a degreaser to clean up all gummy sections or degrease bike chain. I do not recommend kerosene as your bike chain degreaser homemade solution, because even though it greases well, it comes with a strong odor.

Kerosene and turpentine are not good for you and the environment.

An effective homemade degreaser for bike can be achieved by mixing distilled vinegar, soap, baking soda, water, and lemon juice. This homemade degreaser does wonders on your chain.



Where you will mix all ingredients to come up with a homemade cleaner.

For lubing your clean bike chain:

Chain lubricant


After cleaning, have a chain lubricant that helps extend your drivetrain’s life.

I always recommend cleaning your bike chain before putting on a bike-specific oil.

You have to know the two lube types, which are wet and dry. Wet lube is ideal if you ride in damp conditions, while dry lube is suitable for dry environments.

Wet lube powerfully sticks to your drivetrain. Thus, it rarely rinses off when in contact with water. Wet lube lasts longer on chains than dry lube, but the latter is less prone to holding dirt.

Bike stand


A bike stand is an optional tool. But despite being optional, this tool makes your work more convenient by placing your bike at a comfortable height with the right angle.

Aside from that, you can also turn your bike pedals or remove wheels easily with a bike stand, all because you have access to hard-to-reach areas.

How to Clean a Bike Chain with Household Products


Step 1: Put Your Bike on a Bike Stand

The first thing to do is put your bike on a stand and in a good position, giving you a better visual for efficient inspection while cleaning.

Putting your bike in a good position also saves it from bumps that may knock your bicycle to the floor. This unfortunate event can damage your bike, especially if you failed to secure it.

If you do not have a bike stand, you can also position your bicycle upside down. Ensure that the bike rests on the bike saddle and handlebars as it stays on the floor.

Step 2: Find the Chain’s Master Link

After positioning your bike, it’s time to look for its master link. This specific link eases your work as you can use it to remove the chain for cleaning.

You can take a photo of your bike chain’s structure for reference. This can come in handy if you are not familiar with its structure.

Step 3: Prepare the Cleaner

Heat up some water, put it in a pan, and prepare the cleaning solution.

Step 4: Soak the Cloth

After preparing the DIY bike chain cleaner, it’s time to soak the cloth in it. You will use the rag to wipe the chain and make it squeaky clean.

Step 5: Advance your Bike Chain While Cleaning It Or Remove The Bike Chain and Clean it

Rotate the bike pedals using your hands to advance or rotate the bike chain. By doing so, you can easily wipe the whole bike chain. However, advancing your bike chain is only applicable if you did not remove it from your bike.

I highly suggest removing your bike chain while cleaning because it gives a more in-depth exposure to the degreaser. Do this by sliding the pin that secures the link out of its slot. This will open the master link. Once you open the master link, it becomes easy to pull the chain.

If you want a more in-depth clean, you can give it a 20-min soak. You can also reapply the degreaser for your bike chain’s more thorough cleaning session.

Step 6: Rinse Off

Wash off the whole length of your bike chain using clean water.

Step 7: Dry Your Bike Chain with a Dry Cloth

Get another dry rag or cloth and squeeze the bike chain to dry out moisture.

Step 8: Put the Bicycle Chain on the Drivetrain (If you removed the chain)

Once your bike chain fully dries, you can easily replace it back on your drivetrain. This is where the image you took earlier becomes useful.

Re-install the bike’s master link. Carefully slide your master link’s pin into its designated space to finish the attachment.

Step 9: Lubricate the Bike Chain

Now you can lubricate your bicycle chain. You need to have a good piece of lubricant to ensure that your chain runs smoothly. After all, you have to protect other bike components.

Gently squeeze a tiny yet stable stream of lubricant onto your chain. While you are at it, spin your pedals to turn the bike chain. Once it’s finished one whole turn, you are ready to hit the streets again.

Pro Tips:

  • It’s always preferable to put on a lubricant after cleaning bike chain. You must coat the whole length of the chain with lube and wipe off its excess using a rag or a cloth.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands from harsh chemicals or from oily lubricants. Clean in an open and ventilated area to immediately clear out unwanted smells.
  • When using a hose with high-pressure water, be careful not to damage your bike’s bearing mechanism. It’s always crucial, especially if you want to keep your bike for a long time. Do the washing thoroughly and carefully.
  • A bike chain is one of the most crucial lubricated parts. Cleaning and lubing it from time to time slows the rate of your chain’s wearing.
  • If your bike chain is usually clean and only has little grime built up, you can use a simple cloth and degreaser.
  • However, if your bike chain is too dirty, you may have to use a bike chain cleaning solution, like the Finish Line 1-Step Bike Chain Cleaner. You also have to put in more effort because the process can be a bit messy.

For more information, you can also watch this video tutorial.


Did you enjoy our tutorial? Now you know how to clean a bike chain with household products. Save your money and time for just a simple clean-up. The methods are surprisingly easy, right?

Accompany your homemade cleaning solution with a commercial one, like the Finish Line 1-Step Bike Chain Cleaner, for a more effective clean.

If you like this article, you can help us by sharing it with your friends. I will also appreciate your feedback! Let me know what you are thinking in the comments. Remember, a clean bike is a good bike.

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