Alternative chain cleaner/degreaser

Hi all!
Wondering if anyone has found a good cheap alternative chain cleaner/degreaser available in larger quantities. I’d buy it by the gallon if I could. Would isopropyl alcohol do the trick? Or simple green? Using one of these bad boys{creative}&hvpos={adposition}&hvnetw=o&hvrand={random}&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl={devicemodel}&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=&hvtargid=pla-4584345016378710&psc=1 and don’t want to keep buying 16 expensive ounces of the cleaner. Thanks!

I think GCN had a video of how to reuse chain cleaner.

Basically you take your chain off, put it in a jar with cleaning fluid to clean the chain.
When that’s done, take the chain out and run the fluid through a coffee filter and catch the fluid in a different jar.
I believe they were able to use the same fluid over 10 times to clean their chain.

Haven’t tried it myself to be honest

1 Like

I have used this one and works pretty good:

Simple Green 19128 Crystal Industrial Cleaner/Degreaser, 1 Gallon Bottle

I bought this to clean my oven. Decided to try it on my cassette and worked really well:

Citra Clean/1 gallon


Simple Green (as linked by @TonyLPowell above) . In the US, you can buy it at any big box store in gallon size, and then dilute it (or not) as desired. He linked the unscented one, I’ve only used the regular one, but basically the same deal.

I dilute 1:1 with water for cleaning drive my drive train. I dilute 20:1 for cleaning basically anything else. Best part? Easy, “green” disposal.

I soaked my greasy cassette and chainrings in 1:1 simple green, then wiped it down, clean as a whistle.


With respect to mineral spirits, which is what I’ve used to clean new chains, yes - you can reuse it. Generally you want to let the spirits sit for a long while (months), and then filter it as you mentioned. This allows all the particulate to settle to the bottom where it’ll stay as you pour the good stuff through a coffee filter. Then you’ve got relatively fresh, clean spirits which you can reuse. Good thing too, because that stuff is pretty toxic.

+1 on simple green.
just be careful where you spray it, and make sure you dilute as stated above when cleaning on the bike.


I use white spirit. Does the job well for me and much cheaper than bike specific degreaser

No need to wait months, a day is more than enough to settle, and you dont even need to filter just pour off the top into a new container. Repeat the washes 3x in subsequently cleaner mineral spirits with fresh spirits in the final jar. Then just move the mineral spirits down the line into the dirtier containers after a day or two

1 Like

It’s pretty easy either way, since I typically don’t need to use spirits on anything more than once every few months. But yeah, months is probably overstating things.

Though I have only used spirits on new chains to remove the factory wax. Do others use it as a routine cleaning solution? To me, it’s something to be used in small volume (i.e. not a regular degreaser) because of the hazards and toxicity with respect to disposal. Maybe I’m just being a tree hugger.

1 Like

I’m in the Simple Green camp but use the extreme aircraft version:

I’ve used some cleaners in the past that were corrosive and caused some damage to chainrings when left on too long. I like the extreme aircraft version because of this feature " * It causes no harm to aircraft structural metals, plastics, paints, or coatings" and it does a great job cleaning the chain in the Park Tool cleaner.

1 Like

I use it as a regular cleaner, but my school of cleaning tends to be let everything get filthy for a few months and then do a deep clean (probably less often than I should). For disposal you can take it to a household waste recycling site (in the UK) and it’ll be safely disposed of. I probably use less than 1 litre per year with filtering and reuse across 2 bikes.

I also work as research chemist and I’m used to handling far worse at work so I’m guessing my perception of chemical hazards is skewed compared to most.

1 Like

I use it regularly. The only bit I lose is some to evaporation. I wash all my chains before they get released and theres 3 chains per bike x 3 bikes so lots of rotation about once a month. The really dirty mineral spirits get used to wipe down cassette cogs when I pull them off. Ive been using the same 1 gallon jug for 3 years

1 Like

If you wax your chains, hot soapy water is enough to clean them. Just saying…

Yep. NOW I don’t need to do much degreasing, if any, because I wax… but Simple Green (and mineral spirits for new chains) are what got me to that point prior to waxing.

Nope. Why introduce water into the mix at all? Take longer to dry and always has a chance to rust. You can go directly from the mineral spirits into the crockpot as they are both organic

Any Euro-available (especially Deutschland or Swiss) recommendations for products similar to Simple Green and ZEP?

Because its cheaper, easier, and a lot better for the environment.

I’d argue that if you wax on a road bike, you don’t even really need to clean it. Just straight into the crockpot, and then change out the wax after a set number of uses. Obviously, that depends on the conditions in which you ride, so my n=1 is applicable to my conditions - largely indoor and almost entirely dry, desert conditions.

Simple green to dissolve and clean
WD-40 to displace…and clean further
and then reapply chain lube.