The importance of greasing a chain can never be overstated. Lubrication is essential for the smooth functioning of bikes. Take the chain; for example, there is a lot of friction set in motion when you cycle. For such an essential component to go without grease, it would lead to wear and tear at alarming rates. For all the good that it does, grease can often become a problem. Cleaning it off is a common part of the general upkeep of your bike. With it goes some of the debris that accumulates along the way. You would want to ensure that the bike is greased again at the end of it all.
One of the most efficient ways to eliminate excess grease on your chain is by using a degreaser. They come in various forms, from all sorts of brands. Most people will try a few brands out until they come across a product they can stand by. Not only is that approach time consuming, but it can also be costly. You will have to purchase several degreasers that are not ideal for use, hoping that one of them will be. We have found some amazing products that are worth your while.
In a hurry?
No matter how often you will be using your degreaser, value for money is not to be ignored. Consider the size of the container. You want one that you would be able to use several times. If not, at the very least, it should be one that is reasonably priced.
The top pick on this list must be the Park Tool CG-2.4 Chain Gang Bicycle Chain Cleaning System. This has been selected as the top pick because it offers the customer a complete set that is dedicated to cleaning your bike and its mechanical parts. The option comes with a gear scrubber which will allow you to clean the bike when you need to thoroughly. It also saves you from using non-specific scrubbers that may damage your bike rather than clean it. The tool comes with a potent cleaning liquid that is biodegradable and will prolong the life of your bike. Looking through the other options, you may feel they are less specialised than this one is.
OUR TOP PICK
This bike degreaser from WD-40 is a good option to consider because of the various advantages it offers. It comes with a heavy foam action that works its way deep into the chain to provide a full degrease. This is a better motion than just a surface degrease. It has been designed to be machine safe, meaning that you are not reducing the value of your chain over time but increasing it. WD-40 have worked hard and performed extensive tests with this foam to be able to guarantee perfection with almost every wash you do. The degreaser is 10oz in size, which is quite a substantial amount that you will be getting for the price and job that the product can do.
- Foaming action for deeper clean
- Extensively tested
- A decent amount for the price
- It takes time to set in.
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Finish Line has provided bikers with a lovely fragranced option to choose from here. This product is one of the fastest working ones, meaning you won’t spend much time cleaning your bike chain. It is made from a biodegradable formula that will protect your bike chain over time. It is made from orange peels and soy. This is a nice little feature for people who are worried about their effect on the environment. The formula is well designed so that even the other parts of your bike such as the parts made from rubber will not be negatively affected. If you just want to give your chain a light wash when it is not very dirty, then you can even dilute this product with water to save. This is good value for money because it shows the product is quite useful.
- Biodegradable formula
- Strong enough to mix with water
- Citrus fragrance
- A liquid form might make it difficult to get in small spaces of chain
This is one of the best options on the list because it is not just a degreaser but an entire chain cleaning kit. Park Tools have looked to offer their customers a complete package here, meaning you don't need anything else to get going. It comes with a chain scrubber, gear brush and a degreaser. The inclusion of a chain scrubber is handy because it saves you from wasting cloth that once dirty, can’t be used again. The Gear cleaner can also get much deeper into the various crevices that a bike chain has. This provides you with a holistically cleaner chain. The degreasing liquid itself is made from plants and will not damage any parts of the bike. Hence if grease gets on the wheels, you can even clean it with this option. The versatility offered is a nice advantage.
- A versatile product that can clean any part of the bike.
- It comes with all the equipment required.
- The scrubber can get deep into holes of the chain.
- More expensive than the other options
Muc Off’s product is a top-level bike degreaser that offers you more value for your money than most can. It comes with a deep clean function that works well to lift grease that has dried and stuck deeply to your chain. It works much better for the tougher stains that you have on your bike chain. It also works quite quickly, meaning that you won’t have to soak the chain overnight to get rid of the grease. The product has been designed for professional use, meaning that it offers a higher industrial-grade cleaning level than other products do. The product comes with a spray function that will allow you to penetrate the chain’s deeper holes. It is a biodegradable liquid that will not hurt your bike in any way. You can rest assured that your paint won't melt or your alloy wheels rust. It is also environmentally friendly, which is always a plus.
- Deep clean function
- Spray nozzle to get deep into the holes of the chain
- Not good for cleaning wheels
The Finish Line option has taken a different approach to degrease and makes use of dry style degreasing. You will not need any other elements, i.e. water, to complete the clean. Rather this product works to clean and remove grease without you even having to wipe the gears. This happens through a process called mechanical agitation. The liquid will melt the grease in a sense. The only challenge with this is that it takes much more time than most degreasers would. This is because you would most likely have to leave all the parts you want to be degreased soaking overnight. It also means that you cannot clean the chain or brakes while still attached to your bike. The product has been designed to allow you to clean every part of your bike but mostly the disc brakes. It is beneficial because you can maintain your brakes well with this product instead of just your chain.
- Works well for all mechanical parts of the bike
- No need for water or brushing
- Paint and plastic safe
- Needs to work overnight
This new technology that Finish Line has provided their customers within this product is quite impressive. The product is not made from liquid but comes with a foam finish on the inside. It can be better to have foam than liquid because there is less wastage when cleaning the chain. It comes with a 100% biodegradable formula that works to protect both your bike and the environment in one go. The product has a strong effect on grease, meaning that you can manage to clean your chain without much difficulty. Looking at the product overall, it doesn’t have anything special, but if you are looking for something basic and affordable that will get the job done, this is a good one.
- Relatively affordable
- 100% Biodegradable
- Efficient degreaser
- Requires heavy scrubbing but no scrubber
This option from simple green is not designed specifically for cleaning any parts of your bike. Instead, it is an industrial-grade degreaser that is used for anything that can accumulate grease, i.e. stoves. It has an all-purpose cleaner, meaning that it will not look after the metals on your bike over time to the extent that the dedicated ones will. The formula is nontoxic and nonabrasive, meaning that it will be safe for your paint and wheels. When we speak of safety, it should be noted that it's not the best thing you can apply to your bike. It has a lovely lemon citrus fragrance that will no doubt leave your bike smelling nice after a good wash. One of the biggest positives you can get from this product is that it comes in a 1-gallon bottle. This can give a much greater number of washes than your average bike chain degreaser could. If you are looking for something to use in the house and occasionally on your bike, then it could work.
- Substantial amount
- Nontoxic formula
- Lemon fragrance
- Not good in the long run for your bike chain
This option from WD40 is not tailored to bikes in specific but works as an all-purpose cleaner that is safe for mechanical parts. The formula is biodegradable and nontoxic. It is also safe from a fire because it is anti-flammable. The product comes in a 1-gallon container that will work well to save you money as you use it because the quantity is very good. It has a shatter-resistant trigger meaning it's easier and more convenient to use than other products. It does work well to prevent your chain from getting scratched, which is also a benefit.
- Shatter-resistant trigger
- Protects metal from scratches
- It was not made specifically for bikes.
Debris is not the only hindrance that will cause you to need to degrease your chain. Regular repairs and upkeep may require the same thing. Reading the reviews above will have given you ideas of products that you can choose. It may have also led to some questions needing to be answered. That is the purpose of the buyer’s guide.
What can I use instead of degreaser?
There are various things that you can use instead of degreaser. Some of them work better when mixed with other fluids. Here are some of our favourites:
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Rubbing alcohol
Diesel is an easily accessible substance that does the job. You can scrub your chain with it. The downside of using diesel is what you will do with the waste material. It may be worth checking with your local waste disposal centre.
Sodium bicarbonate works a treat when rubbed against the chain. You can use a sponge and soapy water to aid the process. Avoid getting the sodium bicarbonate on your frame as it may cause rusting. Use it with some washup liquid or detergent. Once the chain has been completely degreased, use soapy water without sodium bicarbonate to minimise rusting chances.
Rubbing alcohol is another efficient way to degrease your bike chain. You should consider using gloves as alcohol can be hard on your skin. Pour the alcohol into a cleaning container. The chain can be lowered into the container as well. Use the alcohol to scrub the chain for a few minutes. If left for a while without scrubbing, the chain will start to degrease anyway. You can finish off with a soapy water rinse.
Citrus degreasing works in the same way as rubbing alcohol. You will need to do a bit more scrubbing in this case.
All four degreasers can be used in spray bottles. That makes it easier to carry out the degreasing without removing the tire from your bike. You can spray directly onto the part of the chain that you would like to degrease. A sponge can then be used to quicken the process and deliver a thorough job.
What is the best homemade degreaser?
The best homemade degreaser is a combination of distilled vinegar, detergent and baking soda. The best thing about this degreaser is that it does not contain toxic chemicals. That means you will be able to use it for other chores such as household cleaning.
The best approach is to use a spray bottle to store and utilise the degreaser. Mix the distilled vinegar, detergent and baking soda at a ratio of 20:3:1 respectively. You may shake the mixture or stir it to make sure that all ingredients blend well. If the scent is not to your liking, you may add a few drops of essential oil. Once you are satisfied with this, add it to your spray bottle and store away.
How often should I degrease my bike chain?
The prevailing wisdom is to degrease your chain at least once every season. It is even more important when facing or coming out of a harsh winter. Most cyclists can get away with degreasing their chain once or twice a year. It will depend on the conditions that you are exposed to. If you reside close to the sea where your chain is exposed to salt, you will need to degrease your chain regularly. It may be worth keeping an eye on the chain to give it a clean when it needs one in such cases. Exposure to salt leads to corrosion and rusting of your chain and the rest of the bike.
The same is true for dusty areas. At the same time, you will not have rust to contend with. You do have to remain mindful of the friction that is caused by accumulating debris on the chain.
Is Dawn a degreaser?
Dawn can be used as part of the degreasing process. When you mix it with warm water, it works a treat. You would also want to include a sponge to scrub off the grease during the process. Dawn Degreaser is a heavy-duty that you would want to check out if you are something more robust.
What chemicals are in degreaser?
Degreasers contain some or any of the following ingredients:
- sodium tripolyphosphate
- Sodium metasilicate
- sodium carbonate (soap ash)
- Aromatic hydrocarbons
- Aliphatic solvents
Various substances fall under each of the above. These ingredients can be used as the main ingredient, or as part of a mixture. The key differentiator is whether it is an alcohol-based degreaser or not. Alcohol-based ones tend to be more flammable than the ones that do not contain it.
Can vinegar be used as a degreaser?
While we omitted vinegar in our top picks for degreaser alternatives, it is a worthwhile pick. It is best used in the form of white vinegar (distilled vinegar). You can use it alone without additional ingredients for degreasing any surface, including household cleaning.
At the risk of information overload, we have provided you with many things to consider in each product review. The buyer’s guide goes even further by touching some of the questions you may have about degreasers. The first thing that you may want to consider when choosing these products would be whether you want an alcohol-based product or not. You can be a bit pickier by finding one that has a scent that you fancy. The scent should only be considered when everything else is in place. Be sure to check out our top pick. The Park Tool CG-2.4 Chain Gang Bicycle Chain Cleaning System is a versatile cleaning product that comes with some tools.