Cleaning a bike is a hard task for riders living in a flat with no garden or access to a public area suitable for cleaning. Having no place to wash the bike creates two problems at the same time. First of all, regular cleaning is vitally important for all the tiny mechanisms. Moreover, people living in a flat have no choice but to store the bike in one of the few rooms they have available and dirt from the bike is an annoying source of grime that soils everything around. This is how I used to clean my bike when I was living in a flat – as you might be now.
Using a shower or a bath for cleaning a bike seems odd at first but many people do so and it doesn’t take time to get used to it. By following a few simple tips, you can do it without turning your bathroom into a total disaster. So, here are our tips on how to clean your bike in a shower.
Before launching a cleaning process for the first time, secure the bathroom from any damage the bike would leave on the tiles or bath enamel. To prevent scratches from the chainring, rear derailleur and other sharp objects, you can put an appropriate protection under the bike. An anti-slip rubber mat proved to be a perfect and cheap choice you can buy in every hardware store.
How about the other tools? I usually made do with a brush, toothbrush and a few rags (some to do the wet work and others to make the frame dry and polished). Some riders like to recommend microfibre cloths but I’m not a great fan of them as their fibres tug on my skin and feel odd in my hands. A regular dishwashing liquid is absolutely sufficient when it comes to cleaning a bike.
First of all, brush down the bike properly outside of the house to remove any excess dirt. This way, you will avoid said dirt turning into mud when you shower the bike. You’ll also have less work to tidy up the bathroom once the cleaning is over. Use the brush gently over the frame and fork to prevent scratches. I also prefer to wipe off the exterior muck of the chain with a piece of dry cloth. I simply wrap the cloth around the chain and backpedal until the chain is free of grime. Another rag can be used for scrubbing crud off of the derailleur pulley wheels and chainrings.
If you have a mountain bike, the problematic part is removing dirt holed up firmly in the tyres’ tread pattern. A useful trick is turning the bike upside down and letting the wheels rotate while giving them beating with a stick or rod (an air pump would work too). As the stick bounces off of the tyre, the dirt gets loose and flies away. With road bikes, the work is much easier because you can only wipe off the dirt using a piece of rag.
When the brushing is over, I’d recommend taking off the wheels as it’s far better to wash them separately. Starting with the frame, I give it a short shower and then scrub it with a detergent on a wet cloth. Then I use the toothbrush to get to the hard-to-reach parts and scrub the cassette. In the case of the wheels, a toothbrush will work on the hubs. When the bike seems to be clean, I rinse the detergent and polish the bike and wheels with another rag until they’re completely dry. Putting a drying mat under the bike will prevent drops from soling the floor. You can use cardboard, an old yoga mat or something similar. Then wash the bathroom, and the work is done. Happy cleaning!