How to wash your bike

Winter time is no argument to stop riding outside and since we are part of the Ridley women’s community, #BeTOUGH is our lifestyle. But, sadly, bikes get dirty much faster in wet weather. Clean bikes not only look better, but they work better and even go faster. A regular wash will keep your Ridley free from costly repairs or damage due to rust or corrosion, and it only takes 10-15 minutes to do properly. It’s recommended to clean your bike monthly (or every 20 to 25 rides) or after every messy ride.

Washing a bike is no real fun but can be done fast quite easily. The experienced knowledge of Mike and Yves, mechanics of the Lotto Soudal Ladies team, will help you out. The products they use, you can find in every bike shop. They even often  sell complete washing kits with the necessary brushes, degreaser, soap and lubricate.

Follow these steps to work in the most efficient way. Most easy is to clamp your bike on a bike stand and take off the wheels.

You’ll need these every day, household items to clean your bike:

  1. Clean shop rags or old cotton T-shirts
  2. Bottle brushes
  3. Paint brush
  4. Bucket
  5. Soft, square-head brush for wheels
  6. Garden hose with trigger-style spray head
  7. Degreaser
  8. Sponges
  9. dish soap

Fill two clean buckets with water and a generous squirt of dish soap. Lay out your brushes, sponges, and rags.

Place your bike in a workstand. This brings it up off the ground and makes all the nooks and crannies easier to reach. No workstand? Put your bike upside down.

Step 1: Chain/drivetrain

degrease the chain, cassette and small chain rings. To make it yourself easy. Cut the head of an old bidon off, do some degreaser in there and put the bidon in the cage holder. Use a paint brush to get the product on the greasy bike parts and turn the cranks backward so the product gets on every link.

Then go have a cup of coffee (perfect reason to take a break) while it does its thing for 5 to 10 minutes.” Rinse with a gentle stream of water from the hose. If the chain is still grimy, apply small drops of dish soap like you would a lube, grip the chain in the rough side of your sponge, then turn the cranks for several rotations. Rinse.

Or buy a chain cleaner tool.


Attach the device to your chain, turn the crank 15 revolutions, and let the brushes scrub away grime. Remove the chain cleaner and wipe the chain dry with a clean rag.

Step 2: Frame

Dip a clean, soft sponge into your second (fresh) bucket. Soap up the frame, working your way from front to back. Rinse. If you have caliper brakes, clean the pads with the abrasive side of the sponge.

Step 3: Wheels

Use the soft brush for the tires and rims so they get into crevices with less effort. Dunk your brush into the bucket you used for your frame. Starting at the valve, scrub all the way around the wheel, hit the spokes and hub, then flip the wheel to get the opposite side. Repeat on the other wheel. Rinse. (If you have disc brakes, use the soft side of a clean sponge with soap and water on rotors.)

Step 4: Dry

Use a clean cloth of fabric to dry the frame and wheels. Use another cloth to dry the chain.

Step 5: Lube

When the cleaning is done, lube the chain. There are many types of lube on the market. So, which one to use? Depends on the conditions you ride in. If you ride on wet roads you should opt for a wet lube, which has thicker consistency so it won’t wash away. Try a thinner, dry lube for more arid conditions. Buy one of each so you’re ready for any weather.

Many lubes come in squirt bottles, which allow you to deliver a precise dose to each link of your chain. The other option is an aerosol spray-on, which disperse the lube into every nook and cranny. After applying the lube, hold a rag lightly against both side plates of the links as you spin the chain backward. Excess oil attracts dirt, and over time that dirt will work it’s way to the moving parts inside, leaving you with a gritty mess that creates almost as much damage as no lube at all.

Step 6 (optional): Wax

You can spray some bike wax on the frame and rub it out with a cloth to make your bike super shiny. This also helps to wash off dirt easier the next time.

Do’s and Dont’s


  • Recycle your dish sponges. You’ll get another couple of months out of them on bike-wash duty.
  • Floss with a clean rag between chainrings, cogs, and other hard-to-reach places.
  • Be committed. A clean bike rides better and lasts longer.


  • Mix your buckets, tools, and rags. You don’t want to cover your frame with drivetrain grease.
  • Use an abrasive sponge or brush on your frame.
  • Blast your bike with a high-pressure hose. Water will get into and degrade your bearings.
  • Apply the lubricant or wax on your rims or rotors, which could cause breaking problems.

Your bike is ready for it’s next ride!! Thanks Yves and Mike from the Lotto Soudal Ladies for the good advice!


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