If you were just out for a dirty or dusty ride, it’s a good idea to give your bike a quick wash before you put it away. Bike washes always sound like a hassle, but if your bike isn’t covered in muck, you can do the job in a mere five minutes.

Here is how you do it…

What You Need:

  • Bucket of water
  • Hose (or garden sprayer)
  • Dawn liquid dish soap
  • Sponges (one big, one small)
  • Brushes (optional)
  • Clean rag or microfiber towel

Note: if you need a garden sprayer, I suggest a backpack sprayer. This style is much easier to work with.

The Cleaning Process:

Follow these steps.

1. Stand the bike upright.

For a quick cleaning, it’s perfectly fine to leave the bike together. You can hold the bike upright with one hand, place it in a repair stand, or lean it against a fence.

You could remove the wheels to make it easier to reach certain tubes, but that’s not absolutely necessary, especially if the bike isn’t that dirty.

2. Wet the bike.

Start the cleaning by wetting the bike with light spray from a hose, or wet a sponge and wipe down the frame to get everything wet.

If you’re cleaning a road bike, go easy on the water pressure. You don’t want to force water into your headset, bottom bracket, or hub bearings.

3. Soap the bike.

Mix up the dish soap in the bucket, and use a sponge with that sudsy water to wipe down the frame, fork, handlebar, seatpost, etc.

4. Soap the drivetrain.

Use a smaller sponge with the sudsy water to wipe down the dirtier parts like wheels, crank arms, derailleurs, etc.

If there is some grime caked on there, use a brush to scrub the cassette, rings, and derailleurs, if necessary.

5. Rinse.

Use a light spray from the hose to rinse the bike off.

6. Dry

Now you can shake off the excess water and let the bike air dry outside or pat it dry with a clean cloth.

That’s it. Now your bike should be clean and happy!

Finishing touches:

While your bike is clean, you should also make sure it is lubed up and ready to ride.

If you use a dry lube like ProLink, you might want to add a little to your chain now. It will clean and lube the chain at the same time.

If you use a fancy lube like Dumonde Tech, it doesn’t wash off unless you specifically degrease the chain, so no need to relube in that case.

Note: This is the quick bike wash guide. If your bike is really nasty, check out my complete guide to bike washing: “How to Clean, Lube, and Polish Your Bike.”

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  1. One question. Do you use car polish on the frame after washing so the dirt don’t stick as much or do you use something else

  2. @Niall

    Usually I use a spray-on furniture wax to polish the frame. It’s quick and easy, and seems to work as well as specialty polishes like Pedro’s Bike Lust.

    More details here:

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