Can I Wash My Bike with Dish Soap?

If you ride your bike regularly, it’s guaranteed to get dirty at some point, especially if the weather has been rainy and you’ve been cycling through puddles of mud and similar.

And even if the dirt isn’t super visible, it’s still a good habit to regularly clean your bike, so that you make sure it is well maintained and well taken care of, for a longer lifespan.

But how do you wash a bike? Can you just wash it with dish soap?

Ideally, you should use a special bike cleaning product, as it will be a lot more effective when removing tough stains and getting rid of the grease from the bike chain. However, dish soap can also do the trick and it’s perfectly fine to use!

But you can’t just fill a bucket up with warm water and dish soap, and then dip the bike in, because the bike is pretty big.

And there are also a few important things you should know before setting about cleaning your bike.

Here’s what to never do:

  • Using a high-pressure washer:

Some bikers think they can just use the same pressure-washers used for cars, to clean their bikes.

The problem is that pressure washers are too powerful for a bike, and although they will definitely strip the dirt and debris away, they might also strip away paint or damage some of the more fragile parts of the bike, such as the chain.

  • Submerging parts:

A bike is a little too big to submerge into a bucket full of soapy warm water, but even if you take it apart, do not submerge any of it in the water!

Sure, it would be a faster way of cleaning the bike, but the water might get into places where water shouldn’t be and could cause damage to the structure and mechanism of the bike.

  • Use only one sponge:

It’s tempting to just grab a sponge, dip it in some dish soap and water, and scrub the dirt away. But instead, we recommend using a few different sponges.

So use one for the cleaner bits of the bike, like the top of the frame and the handlebars, and another for the wheels and bottom of the frame, where there might be mud.

And for the chains, use an entirely different sponge yet again, because it will be super greasy and you don’t want to spread that dirt over to the rest of the bike!

But back to cleaning your bike with dish soap.

We recommend you first remove the wheels of the bike, so you clean them separately, and so that you can reach every bit of the bike frame with more ease.

Mix some dish soap with warm butter, and use a sponge or cloth to apply it onto the bike, scrubbing away the dirt and being careful around the chain and pedals.

The dish soap might not be able to get rid of all the grease, but it should almost certainly get rid of all the dirt!

Can I use Dawn to clean my bike chain?

Dawn is a specific brand of dishwashing liquid, which has become quite popular amongst bikers and bike mechanics, as it works really well for cleaning bikes.

This is because it isn’t just a normal dishwasher liquid, it is mild grease-cutting, meaning it can also be used to clean the chain of your bike, a lot better than if you were using any other dish soap.

Daw dishwasher liquid is super easy to find, and very affordable, which is another reason why it’s such a great choice.

You can mix a few drops of it with warm water, and apply it to your bike chain, carefully and gently, with the help of a sponge or a wet cloth.

It should then help get rid of all of the dirt and most of the grease so that your bike chain is like new again.

However, it’s important to remember to lubricate your bike chain after you have cleaned it with the Dawn dishwasher liquid!

That way it will be ready to go for the next time you cycle, and it will be protected and well-maintained.

Can I wash my bike with shampoo?

If you use your hair shampoo to clean your bike, you will be able to get rid of most of the dirt, and somewhat get the job done.

However, this shampoo is meant for human use, and not for use on metal and plastic, so it’s not an ideal option.

Instead, you should use a shampoo that has been specifically designed for bikes and cars, as it will be formulated to deep clean the metal frame and structure, as well as the mechanisms and rest of bits and pieces.

This will clean your bike much better, and you will guarantee it causes no damage whatsoever.

Can you clean a bike chain with vinegar?

Vinegar is the holy grail of DIY cleaning, and it never lets you down.

You can indeed use some vinegar to clean your bike chain, and the results can be quite effective, as it will dissolve the dirt, debris, and grease off of the chain, leaving it nice and clean.

To use vinegar, do the following:

  1. Fill a bottle with half white vinegar and half water, then shake. 
  2. Spray this solution onto the bike chain, so that it is completely soaked in it.
  3. Let the solution act for a while, as it attacks the dirt, debris, and grease.
  4. Wipe the bike chain down carefully, then rinse with water.
  5. Repeat the steps if necessary until the bike chain is completely clean.
  6. In the end, lubricate your bike chain so that it is protected and ready to go.

Is bike cleaner worth it?

Bike cleaner is a product that has been specifically designed to clean bikes, so it is guaranteed to be effective not only against dirt and debris that clings to the metal frame but also against the grease that accumulates in the bike chain.

However, is it really worth it? As it is a specialized product, a bike cleaner will usually be more expensive than simply buying some dishwasher liquid, so why should you use the bike cleaner?

Well, although, as a general rule, buying a specialized product is mostly worth it, this one is quite debatable.

Many bikers and bike mechanics prefer to use dishwasher liquid, as it’s far more affordable and it can be just as effective, even for the bike chain.

But others like to use bike cleaners so that they know it is completely safe for the bike, and that they’re going to get it perfectly clean.

Here are some pros and cons to using bike cleaner, and you can make up your mind yourself!

PROS FOR BIKE CLEANER:

  • It is specifically formulated and designed for use on bikes
  • It is completely safe for use on bikes
  • It is guaranteed to be effective
  • Works on the frame and on the bike chain

CONS FOR BIKE CLEANER:

  • It is more expensive than a normal dishwasher liquid
  • It isn’t that much more effective than normal dishwasher liquid
  • You would have to buy it specifically, and it would be a one-purpose item

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