How to Make and Use Your Own Homemade Bike Chain Degreaser

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Tips & Guide

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Rather than utilizing the conventional degreaser that is sold in stores, you may make your own Homemade Bike Chain Degreaser at home with simple household materials like vinegar, baking soda, borax, table salt, etc. All you need to apply it is a cloth & some old brushes that’s it.

Suppose your bike chain starts to act strangely when you are enjoying a beautiful ride. The shifting of gears isn’t smooth at all, and you have to apply extra power unexpectedly. The tape begins to fall off it. Or worse, there is a chain break. That would spoil the entire trip, wouldn’t it?

An oily and dirty chain is the most frequent cause of bike issues, however, there are many other reasons why something similar can occur.

For this reason, it’s advised to completely clean your bike chain once every three to four weeks.

The fix for all these issues is a degreaser. The best approach to utilize a degreaser and the steps involved in producing one at home are outlined in this article.

Understanding Degreaser

A person spraying his bike chain with a lubricant.

It is impossible to clean many water-insoluble materials, such as oil, grease, abrasive debris, lubricants, corrosive compounds, etc., with straightforward methods. Thus, even after the routine cleaning operations, they persist.

For such grit and grime, you must use specialized solvent-based cleaning products known as degreasers. These are chemical compounds designed especially to get rid of grime and dirt that is insoluble in water.

There are uses for these cleaning products in both home and professional settings. Generally speaking, degreasers are used to remove oil from everything from kitchen cabinets to large airplanes.

A certain type of grease needs to be cleaned by the majority of degreasers sold in stores.

However, a number of producers in the cleaning sector provide milder all-purpose degreasers that nonetheless remove a wide range of common oils.

Benefits of Making Your Own Homemade Bike Chain Degreasers

There are plenty of good reasons to use a homemade degreaser instead of one of the various kinds available on the market to clean your bike chain.

The following are some significant benefits of utilizing a homemade bike chain degreaser.


The cost of conventional degreasers is frequently extremely high. Due of the low cost and easy availability of all the ingredients, making one at home is far more economical.


Kerosene oil & gasoline, two materials that are bad for the environment, are present in several of the commercially made degreasers.

However, all of the components and the method of production for DIY degreasers are entirely environmentally benign.

Never Toxic

Many ingredients included in commonly used cleaning products are not meant to be near locations where food is stored or prepared.

Additionally, you must use particular caution when utilizing them. Thus, instead of using a harmful degreaser, why not use one that is completely natural?

Simple to Use

A homemade degreaser may be used in a variety of ways. It may be sprayed directly on the chain, left to soak in the mixture for a while, or applied with a brush or old cloth.

Which recipe you pick will determine how to apply it, but all of the techniques are quite easy to use.

The environmentally responsible and less expensive option to store-bought degreasers is to make your own.

How Do You Make Your Own DIY Homemade Bicycle Chain Degreaser?

Homemade Degreaser

To make degreasers at home, there are several recipes available. The most popular methods that have shown to be quite successful in cleaning bike chains are listed below.

1. Salt, washing soda, and one or more essential oils combined

One of the milder degreasers, it works well for removing small amounts of dirt and contaminants.

This method consists of two steps:

Mix together 16 ounces or 450 Grams of baking soda, 1/4 cup of washing soda, & 1/2 cup of salt.

Combine all of them in a dish and stir in 1/4 cup of water. After applying the mixture, let it sit for a while.

In a spray bottle, combine 3/4 cup of distilled vinegar, 10 drops of essential citrus oil, and 10 drops of thyme oil for the following step. Give it a good shake, then mist the paste with it. Clean it now with a wipe.

Parts such as cassette cogs are most suited for this procedure, as it is not appropriate for cleaning chains.

2. Baking Ammonia, Vinegar, and Soda

A gallon of water, one cup of ammonia, half a cup of vinegar, and one-fourth cup of baking soda are needed for this recipe.

Transfer all ingredients into a large bucket or container and mix well. You can preserve the mixture for later use. It must be shaken before each usage and kept covered.

If necessary, you may add a little more vinegar and baking soda to the mixture to make it even stronger, since it should be powerful enough to minimize the majority of the fat.

Due to their exceptional grease-removal properties, both of these ingredients are necessary in practically all cleaning products.

Anything from the kitchen floor to the engine bay of your automobile may be cleaned with this degreaser.

3. Salt, vinegar, and borax

Sodium borate, or borax, is a chemical substance that naturally occurs in dry lakes as a byproduct.

It is a white, powdered material that should not be mistaken for boric acid, which is a chemical used to make insecticides. A booster ingredient in detergents and home cleansers is borax.

When it comes to bike chain degreasers, borax works wonders as a substitute for baking soda.

A gallon of water, two cups of borax, eight cups of white (distilled) vinegar, & two cups of salt are needed for this preparation.

Mix everything well. Similar to the last method, you can increase the amount of vinegar and borax if the solution isn’t sufficiently powerful.

You may either immerse the chain in the solution or spray it straight onto the surface. Use caution when applying this degreaser, though, as borax can irritate skin when it comes into touch with it.

One may use a variety of ingredients, including ammonia, borax, baking soda, and washing soda, to make DIY degreasers.

4. Water and Ammonia

Our last homemade degreaser recipe is a combination of ammonia with water.

The most often used option for cleaning chemicals for grease, oils, lubricants, etc. is presumably ammonia.

The majority of the time, it is used in small amounts with water and citric acid, but that combination is insufficient to clean your dirty bike chains.

To remove the stubborn grime from your bike chain, use equal parts ammonia and water. Next, incorporate a tiny quantity of Castile soap into the mixture and thoroughly mix it.

Recall that ammonia is a strong chemical that can aggravate bronchitis, asthma, and other conditions in patients. Making this degreaser in a well-ventilated space is recommended.

How to Use a DIY Chain Degreaser: The Best Methods

I’ve already discussed the benefits of making your own degreasers and provided several recipe ideas.

How should they be used to get the most done, though?

Is there a foolproof method for using a homemade degreaser to thoroughly clean your bike chain, leaving no traces of grime or oil behind?

To get the most out of a degreaser made at home, use the techniques listed below.

On-Bike Cleaning & Degreasing Without Chain Removal

You may use this easy degreasing method to clean your bike chain if it is fixed and does not have a master link, or if you just don’t think it requires a thorough cleaning.

  • A rug, a stiff-bristle cleaning brush, a garden hose, a chain keeper (if desired), and a degreaser bottle are required.
  • This procedure may be approached in two ways. For one, a chain keeper is required, while no additional equipment is needed for the other.
  • Place the bike upright with its wheels pointing skyward or on a freestanding rack. Apply the degreaser to the chain completely using wet wipes or a spray bottle. Put the cleaning brush back on the chain now.
  • Always keep in mind that the brush’s bristles should be just the right amount of stiffness—not too soft to prevent it from scraping off dirt, nor too firm to the point where it breaks inner connections.
  • In a similar vein, the pressure needs to be in the center. Move the chain back and forth at various angles through the brush to scrape and brush the degreaser.
  • Take the chain from the cassette and rest it on a chain keeper if you’re afraid about doing any permanent harm to the braking surface or hub bearing from the extra degreaser.
  • The remaining drivetrain components should be cleaned once the chain has been thoroughly cleaned. Grease the cassette & chainring with the degreaser. Every gear and crank has to be brushed.
  • The same applies to derailleurs. Use the hose to rinse the chain and every other component.
  • Lastly, use a piece of cloth to dry the bike and lubricate it with any regular lubrication.
  • One or two of these cleaning operations have to be performed each week, preferably more frequently for off-road mountain bikes.

Detailed Cleaning and Degreasing of Bicycle Chains

For most casual riders, the preceding procedure will be enough, but occasionally a deeper cleaning of your bike chain is required.

Additionally, in order to prevent premature wear and tear on the components, it is imperative that you regularly wash your bike’s chain with the rest of the drivetrain.

This following method will let you give your home a comprehensive wash worthy of a professional workshop, all using your own degreaser.

  • A container (ideally plastic), an air compressor (optional), a stiff-bristled brush, cassette and chainring removal tools (lockring tool, chain whip hex keys, etc.), and a homemade degreaser are needed for this degreasing process.
  • Using chain removal tools, take off the bike chain first. It’s quite simple to remove the chain using the quick-reuse links.
  • With the use of the chain whip & lockring tool, take off the cassette and the back wheel. Disassemble the chainring by removing each crank, or take out the entire chainring by removing the side pedal.
  • After adding the filthy chain, fill the jar or container with a degreaser and give it a good shake. Give it a little while. Apply degreaser to the cassette sprockets and chainring cranks while the chain is submerged in it, then use a cleaning brush or rug to scrub away all of the gunk.
  • Removing the chain from the degreaser container, brush the whole length of the chain vigorously at various angles. After giving all three parts a thorough water rinse, pat them dry.
  • Using the rag, thoroughly clean the derailleurs, cage, and remaining drivetrain.
  • Grit may be forced out of the cuts and holes using an air compressor. You may use any cleaning brush with firm bristles, or an old toothbrush if the air compressor isn’t accessible.
  • After reassembling every part, grease the chain.

This degreasing method not only provides you with a timely opportunity to examine any worn-out or broken parts, but it also enables you to clean the chain and other components in minute detail.

Read more DIY home-oriented guides:
1. How to Remove Rust from a Bicycle Chain?
2. How to assemble a bike step-by-step guide.

FAQ on Homemade Degreaser

When using homemade bike chain degreasers, there are a few key things to remember.

What Should the Degreaser’s Strength be?

The degreaser ought to be just mildly potent. It can harm the bike’s chain and other parts if it is very strong.

How Often Does My Bike Chain Need to Be Cleaned?

Although it is recommended that all riders clean and degrease their bikes at least once a week, this amount should be increased if you ride more frequently.

Off-road and mountain bikes also require more frequent degreasing.

Is It Possible to Clean My Bike Chain with Dishwasher Soap?

You can, indeed. The most often used substitute for degreasers is actually dishwasher detergent, such as Dawn Washing Soap.

Are All Natural and Eco-Friendly Degreasers Non-Toxic?

All DIY degreasers are biodegradable and environmentally friendly as they are prepared using materials that are typically available in households.
Furthermore, compared to degreasers that are manufactured commercially, practically all DIY degreasers are far less harmful to use. But safety measures are always required.

Conclusion on Homemade Bicycle Chain Degreaser

Ultimately, it is recommended to produce the bike chain degreaser at home as it is less expensive and very simple to do. Make sure your drivetrain is always spotless and devoid of superfluous oil. Happy riding, and be clean!


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