How to Clean and Maintain your Bike

Bike cleaning checklist

It's important to keep your bike clean and safe - read our top tips.
  • A couple of buckets
  • Sponges and rags
  • Soap
  • Bike cleaner, chain lube and polish if you want to go the extra mile.
  • Bike cleaning brushes
  • Degreaser
  • A garden hose to save you some leg work
  • WD40

How to hose down your bicycle

Depending on just how dirty your bike is, this may not be necessary, but it is important to get rid of any large clumps of dirt that may have attached themselves across the bike. This will save you simply rubbing that dirt across the bike and making it dirtier.

Make sure you have cycle insurance

However you enjoy your bike, you'll need insurance that suits you. We offer a range of cycling insurance products that gives you the option to choose the cover you’ll need, including worldwide cover for your bike and accessories. Find out more about our cycling insurance online.

How to dry and lubricate your bike after cleaning it

If the conditions are right you could leave your bike to air dry - but if not, use a clean rag to remove the excess water. After you have dried the bike, it is important to use some WD40 or another water displacer to avoid rusting. The last job is to make sure that all the pieces operate smoothly. Use the chain lube to ensure that the chain does its job effectively. Slowly work your way along the chain to make sure you cover every part. All the rollers, pins and inner face plates must be done to make sure they all work together to give you the smoothest ride.

Make sure that you properly reattach anything you have removed. Test your brakes and gears to make sure your bicycle is working safely and effectively.

About the author

Karl Scott, boat insurance articles authorKarl Scott is a respected leader with nine years’ varied experience in niche personal and commercial lines insurance, including cycle, boat, pleasure craft, military and private car, with proficiency in leadership, sales and account management.

How to look after your bicycle's chain

Cleaning the chain can potentially be painful, if you don’t watch out for your fingers! To avoid this, raise your back tyre off the ground, then you can spin the pedals and move the chain rather than trying to get in all the nooks of a moving part. Generously apply the de-greaser to the chain and use an old rag to run the chain through. Keep doing this until you are satisfied the chain is clean and running smoothly.

How to clean your drivetrain

The drivetrain can be tricky. If you have the tools and the know-how to remove it from the bike this would be the best option. However, if you can’t, removing the wheel is best practice. This will give you better access around the drivetrain and allow you to be more thorough by getting behind it. Another handy tip is to use bike cleaning brushes or if you don’t have any to hand an old paint or tooth brush.

How to maintain your bike's wheels and frame

Use a soft sponge to wipe over the bicycle, starting from top to bottom to avoid dripping dirty water on the clean parts. Use a bike cleaning spray or a soap to go over the frame and wheels then wipe off the suds with clean water. For the fiddlier bits, for example under the seat and between the spokes, use a clean brush to get in between them. Don’t forget about the brake pads, get rid of any grit or dirt under them. This will make them last longer and stay reactive. Again, if you can take the wheels off it will make the process easier.