Best degreaser to use for a bicycle chain

Best degreaser to use for a bicycle chain.

What worked great for me was buying a gallon of mineral spirits, and a gallon of denatured alcohol from the hardware store. Pull the chain and drop into an old plastic jar (cleaned out peanut butter jars work great) and cover in mineral spirits. Soak / shake until clean, then switch to a jar of denatured alcohol and soak / shake. Take it out and let dry and then you’re ready to reinstall and wax / lube.

If you go through peanut butter like we do, plenty of spare jars around. You can also wait for the mineral spirits to settle and pour off the top for re-use or filter through coffee filter into a new jar.


I use this WD40 degreaser.

Put the chain into a small bowl, cover with the degreaser, let it sit for a couple hours. Then i go over the chain with an old toothbrush on all sides. Then rinse, shake off excess water, and lay it out on a shop towel to dry. Sometimes use a heat gun to speed up the drying.


In case you haven’t gathered from the responses so far, it really is worth it to get the small tool required to remove the chain (and learn to use it). So much easier (and much faster) to clean the chain as well as the bike (you don’t need the “leave chain on” plastic chain cleaning “systems”…they just make a mess). Moreover, you can have an already clean chain ready to go and just put that one on right away and clean the dirty one at a later time (with the approaches described above).

Also, the actual degreaser you use when the chain is removed is less important (IOW, most work, just get cheap and in bulk, like the two already mentioned).


perfect timing…from yesterdays VN


I’m curious, what’s wrong with dish soap and water? I have done this for years without issue, and my mechanic also swears by it.

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Don’t shoot the messenger but the most common answer is going to be it simply doesn’t clean the chain. I use dish soap and water on the rest of my bike and see no reason to buy over-priced (but safe) bike-specific cleaners for all but the drivetrain itself.


@BCM Instructions unclear. Put peanut butter on my chain.


@PoweredByBacon Think of it as an extra way to carry snacks on your ride! I hear peanut butter is fast too :rofl:

I’ve been using this for years:

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How often are you doing this? How many miles are you getting on your chain? Do you get better performance?

At your hourly rate is it worth it… or cheaper just to buy a new chain?

I do this as needed, or typically once a month.

I don’t really track it too rigorously. It doesn’t really take that long, maybe 15 minutes of active work. I do this as part of a whole-bike cleaning and re-lube that takes about an hour.

I think I get about 5k miles out of a chain? I swap chains about twice a year.

I think it’s worth it to clean a chain that still has life in it then to just replace it. Both in cost and reduced waste.

Thanks pretty much what I do but will let the chain soak overnight in the mineral spirits which has worked really well. Save the leftover mineral spirits in a mason jar.

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So if I use Peanut Butter to clean my chain doesn’t the oil lubricate also? I only have chunky. Think that will get through the jockey wheels? Asking for a friend.

I take it off and toss it in a ultrasonic cleaner. I know I don’t have to but I like to. I have been trying to get chemical brothers citrus degreaser but its been out of stock for ages. I usually run the cleaner 2-3 times depending if I get back to it shortly after a cycle. If I forget I just run it again. When I am all done I take the chain out and let it dry off while I dump the degreaser back into the bottle through a few funnels and coffee filters… I think its time I use new fluid. Next step is to get into waxing (chain people :wink: ). Right now I am just using silca’s super secret chain lube.

I bought methylated spirts for the final cleaning but keep forgetting to use it.

This may not be worth it at all but I like doing it.

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Yes @DocSavage. Instead of using a cloth to wipe off the extra peanut butter, just squeeze a piece of bread around the chain and move the cranks a few rotations. Will clean off the excess PB from the chain and also now you have a sandwich.


In all seriousness, I did this today with mineral spirits and denatured alcohol. Maybe 5 minutes of active work total and chain looks good as new. No scrubbing required.


Do you leave your chain on the bike when you use this?

yes, in a Park CM-5.3 - Cyclone Chain Scrubber weekly

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No, I pull off the chain and drop it in a jar, I have the park chain pliers and use quick links. Much faster and easier and gets the chain cleaner than cleaning on the bike.