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The 5 best bicycle cleaning tips for your next restoration project

In this article I’m going to give you a couple of bicycle cleaning tips I’ve learned along the way.

It’s one thing to hose down your bike after a ride in the rain. But if a bike is decades old and has been sitting in someone’s shed for years, these bicycle cleaning tips might make life easier for you.

Video Tutorial

Having the right tools for the job

removing cassette

I’ve always hated cleaning bicycle cassettes until I had the tools to actually remove them from the rear wheel. Now I could submerge the entire thing and get to the dirty spokes behind it.

Having the right tools for the job makes it more fun to give your vintage bike a solid cleaning.

Plastic cups

ball bearings
bicycle hub bearings getting cleaned

When you disassemble stuff to clean, I have a ton of plastic cups ready to store small parts like ball bearings.

Sometimes it’ll take weeks or months for me to get back to a certain project. And not having to look around for stuff, but having it safely stored is a best practice.

And I use these cups to submerge parts in paint thinner and rust remover.

Baby wipes, toothpicks and paint thinner


My favorite cleaning products are baby wipes or wet towels, toothpicks and paint thinner. All three of them are cheap.

I use toothpicks to pry dried mud and grease away from bicycle parts, baby wipes are great from general cleaning of the entire bike, and paint thinner is fantastic for removing grease like the cassette and chain.

The salad bowl

salad bowl

For parts that are to big too fit into an old peanut butter jar I use a salad bowl. The main benefit of the salad bowl is that it’s big enough to submerge parts like chainrings, cassette and derailleurs, but small enough you don’t need a ton of liquid to fill it.

I mainly use paint thinner to clean parts in it and use an old dish washing brush with it.

The rug and the towel

I’m used to working while sitting on the ground. I don’t have a bike stand. And I’m used to working this way anyway. So I have a large rug I use to keep my house relatively clean and not damage any parts while they’re laying on the ground.

Alternatively I use a towel upon which I lay the parts and wipe my hands on instead of my trousers.

Final thoughts on these bicycle cleaning tips

Everybody has their favorite way of doing things and when it comes to cleaning bicycles, these are mine.

I have a lot of bikes I ride, do a lot of really dirty bicycle restorations and do a lot of bike cleaning along with. So not only do I want to have a cleaning workflow that’s working, I want it to be affordable as well.

If you like this article please share it. If you have any questions or suggestions for new articles, let me know in the Facebook Group. Cheers.


Q: Do you reuse white spirit? If so, how often?

A: Yes I reuse white spirit. The main reason is because it’s bad for the environment. I pour everything back in the bottle. When I use it I pour about 90% out of the bottle, so the really nasty stuff stays behind. I never throw away white spirit because it’s dirty. When I feel the stuff gets too dirty I filter it.

Q: What type of rust remover do you use?

A: I use diluted HG Roestoplosser. Be careful with it because it can eat through your bicycle parts. Also be careful when applying it to the frame to prevent damage to the paint. And never use it on bottom brackets and sealed cartridge bearings.

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