Dirty and greasy rags - Pro tips wanted!

I typically keep a pile for parts / drivetrain cleaning duties and another for frame cleaning / waxing, but the greasy ones never come out of the washer perfectly clean. I’ve tried stuff like lestoil and bleach, but it didn’t quite do it. Grease is therefore building up over time and I’m not sure if the rag is cleaning the bike or if it’s the other way around now.

I’m curious if you are able to bring your dirty and greasy rags back to their original state. Does anyone have any tip, besides the obvious throwing away and getting new ones?


used to use GoJo creme waterless hand cleaner (Auto Parts Store) not the stuff with grit in it, as a prewash sort of thing, note if you use the washer do an empty cycle afterwards before doing anything else.
I have gotten lazy and been using the Blue Shop paper towels,

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Wait, there are other options besides this?

(PSA-dont actually do this)


Pro tip: throw away the greasy rags when they get too greasy - never wash them


yep, i’ll try and clean the rags i use to clean or wax my bike now and then (usually they graduate to a chain rag/send out to pasture) but just let old rags die a slow and painful death.

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I buy recycled rags at the thrift store. 50lbs of rags for $10. Lasts me years. I throw them out after each use.

At the bike shop they buy them by the oil drum for $50 or something.

It’s not worth washing them. Not only do they not come clean I don’t want that stuff in my washer.

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It’s unanimous so far. I’ll just make sure to get 100% cotton rags and not synthetic fabric then, so at least it’s biodegradable!


I use old t-shirts to clean chains. If you cut them up you get 2-3 good rags out of each. For cleaning the bikes, I have an old sponge that probably needs to be replaced now that I think about it. I also will sometimes cut up an old garage towel and use that as a wash rag or to clean the chain.

Once something gets used on a chain or just otherwise gets loaded up with grease, I don’t wash it. I just throw anything past its usefulness in the trash.