Cleaning cassette

Guys, I have a disgustingly filthy cassette. I removed from bike (11 speed 11-28 Ultegra). What is the best thing for me to use? After my individual cogs look like new, what do I use as a lubricant/grease? Please, educate a noob :slight_smile: thanks

Once removed and cleaned then just put it back on. As far as I know you dont want anything on it. Anything you add will just collect grime and dirt and increase wear. Lube your chain and not the cassette.

I am far from an expert though!


Clean your drivetrain. When it’s dry, you lube the chain. More is not better! Wipe off excess.

Choice of lube depends wet vs dry, road vs off-road, and personal tastes. Here is a good read:

Personally, I use Squirt. I do one drop on each joint, applied to the inside of the chain (i.e., if looking at your bike, the topside of chain between the chainring and the rear derailleur. After applying to all joints. I turn the cranks several revolutions while shifting up and down the cassette. Wipe off any excess.


For the cassette, brush on liquid degreaser / spray on foaming degreaser / spray with WD40 (or your local alternative). Let that do its work. Then give the sprockets a scrub with hot water, washing up liquid, and an old sponge or brush. “Floss” between any sprockets that are welded together with a piece of string. Rinse it off, let it dry, and reassemble.

To prevent it happening more, clean and lube your drivetrain regularly. There are other threads with incredibly detailed instructions, but for starters, this is what I’d call the “essential” routine.

  1. Run the chain through a chain cleaning tool filled with liquid degreaser OR brush on liquid degreaser to all the links with an old brush OR use spray degreaser.
  2. Go through all the gears on your cassette to transfer the degreaser onto all the sprockets.
  3. Leave it for a few minutes.
  4. Take the back wheel out and give the cassette a quick go over with sponge and hot soapy water.
  5. Wheel back on, then get stuck into the chain with the hot soapy sponge. Pay attentions to the chainrings and jockey wheels too.
  6. Rinse thoroughly with hose / outdoor tap / bucket of clean water.
  7. Dry off excess water with old towel and then allow to properly dry off.
  8. Apply chain lube as @KickrLin describes, wiping off excess.

Do that every few good weather rides, and after any ride where your bike gets dirty, and your chain and components will last a lot lot longer.

After getting everything clean, I use a bit of the Muc-Off Bike protect spray. It is supposed to help pull the water out of components and gives a light protective coating. I have found this helps with regular maintenance, when you come to next wash your bike, all the grime washed off really easily. Its also a great polish for the frame to keep everything looking shiny and new. You will still need to lube the chain though :slight_smile:

Hi KickrLin. I am new to Squirt and have a question. I cleaned my bike and degreased the drivetrain and especially the chain. I applied the Squirt lube did one session and applied once again. I also wipe off any excess after a couple of revolutions. The drivetrain seems noiser than with regular oil. Did I do it wrong or is it a feature? :wink: Also, how often should I apply Squirt? Chain oil was every 300 kms or so.

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I’m also a squirt user. Applied correctly, I have found it to be quieter than other lubes I’ve used.

Before applying it, you need to ensure that your chain is completely degreased and all traces of your old lube are completely removed.

Apply the squirt to the inside of the chain as previously mentioned. For this first application, I tend to be generous. Turn the cranks and wipe off excess (note - only wipe off the sides of the chain). Now, you’re supposed to let this application of lube work into the chain for 5 minutes before applying another coat. I saw a video on YouTube and some mechanic recommended leaving that first coat overnight, then applying the second coat the following morning before you ride. I use this method and it has served me well so far. Quiet and precise drive train.

Once you’ve cleaned your drive train, it’s a good idea not to let it get to the ‘disgustingly filthy’ stage again

Give it a clean and lube before it ever gets to that stage. It’ll perform much better and save you money :+1:

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If you live in the uk get some of this and scrub with a brush. It’s great stuff and way cheaper than bike branded degreaser

Generally speaking, people apply way too much lube to their chain. Then, they do not wipe off excess. This leads to an even dirtier nastier chain.

I switched to Squirt this year after the birth of my twins. I am 99% trainer these days. As a result, my chains are very very clean :smile: With Squirt, I only apply it once. However, iirc Squirt themselves say two applications and not to wipe. I reapply every 10d or so, never more than 2wks. When the drivetrain sound changes, that is my cue to reapply. If I go by hours, I would say ~6-8hrs per application. Lastly, apply at night before bed so that it has time to dry and set, not before a ride.

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Thanks @KickrLin & @mancunian. I did everything as you recommend except I didn’t take down the chain to clean it in a degreaser bath I degreased it using chain washer on the bike. I’ll see how it goes so far it is only a couple of rides.

How do you personally wipe it off?

I am giving it a roll through a cloth on the outside of the chain, not touching the inside where I applied the lube directly.

I once dishwashered my cassette. Worked a charm :slight_smile:


This can get you banned from the kitchen. It’s not quite as bad as converting a clothes iron into a ski wax tool (that’s definitely not reversible, trust me on that), but the first clump of grease that ends up into a fork (utensil, not bike) will be the last.


Don’t forget that a cassette cleaning is useless if not part of a complete drivetrain cleaning - chain, chainrings, pulleys, cassette. I use commercial water-soluble degreaser, and old plastic juice jug (rectangular section) for the chain, small plastic container gets the cassette and pulleys, let stand but not forever, toothbrush for the chainrings and cassette cogs, water rinse, re-lube the pulley bearings, re-install the cassette and chainrings, rinse and dry the chain, reinstall, lube the chain, and off to the races you go.

That toothbrush does not go back to anyone’s bathroom.

That precaution is unnecessary. What you are lubing in a chain are the rollers, not the plates. Apply the lube to the rollers, let stand, wipe the whole thing, run the chain backwards a while, wipe again.

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Only do this if you are safe and confident, but put it in a container with a large opening and let it soak in petrol. Nothing is better to clean the oil and grime away.

The petrol can be reused multiple times. But don’t do this anywhere near a flame or anywhere that is hot etc.

In fact never do this :slight_smile:


Alcali commercial degreaser is a lot safer and environmental friendlier.

Safer yes. The environment isn’t an issue so long as the person doesn’t stupidly pour the petrol away after using it. As I said, it can be used many, many times.

Nothing will get it as clean as petrol if that is what one is aiming for. i.e. before waxing etc.