Emphasis on fast-to-thorough ratio, and cheap-and-effective, steps I’ve developed over the years for the road cyclist, as I wash at least one bike, roughly once a week. Whole procedure takes about 15–20 minutes, including set-up, pack-up.
Tools & Supplies:
- Dish soap
- Degreaser (currently liek Park brand’s, WD-40’s degreaser, and Simple Green
- Drivetrain brushes (large or medium-sized paint-style brush, and small stiff hand brush)
- Frame brushes (large and small)
- Dish sponge
- Chamois or rag
- Spray down whole bike with water hose to remove excess grime. Use high pressure, but generally not a-power washin’ ’round the bearings.
- Put degreaser on drivetrain. Prop up bike so the cranks are free to spin backwards, and coat cogs, gears, chain using large drivetrain brushes while pedalling backwards. Get the degreaser into all the nooks and crannies, like the rear and front mech.
- Scrub with drivetrain with stiff brush: all four sides of chain, both sides of all chainrings (move the chain to the other ring after cleaning the first ones), rear mech pulleys. We’ll do the cassette (rear cogs) later.
- Spray off degreaser with high pressure hose—important before washing as it will bind and suck up your dish soap later, and might spread around the frame.
- Remove wheels (so you can get into all the areas of the frame to clean) and prop frame up on something (I wedge by big ring into the slots of an old bench, and prop the wash bucket underneath the downtube).
- Fill bucket with dish soap (Dawn is recommended by pro mechanics for some reason). Wash down frame with large brush. Then get into small spaces (around brakes especially) with smaller brush. Really dirty areas may need a sponge to scrub off.
- Scrub the rear cassette with a stiff brush and a bit more degreaser. Spray off degreaser, then wash wheels like frame: large brush, then small brush for the hubs.
- Water spray soap off everything. While it’s drip-drying I pack everything up, then towel down the whole bike—catches any dirt missed, and helps you do a quick check for broken / cracked parts (often not visible under soap and water).