How to Clean a Mountain Bike

When riding a bike, chances are high that it might get dirty. That can happen especially during rainy seasons when the roads are muddy.

MTBs are special bikes for riding on rough terrains, uphill and steep valleys. In most cases, these bikes can get dirt by passing through mud and dirty water splashing into them.

Applying oil and grease to moveable parts can make the bike dirty.

In this article, we will learn how to clean a mountain bike, the material to use when performing the task, and the procedure. We will also see the intervals at which you can clean the MTB.

Read through the article for more information.

How to clean a mountain bike

Before beginning the procedure, it is wise to have all the necessary cleaning materials. They include cleaning rags, water, brush, degreaser, and general cleaner or soap.

Cleaning rags are ideal for removing grease, wax, and oil. They are also best for general cleanliness and drying the bike after cleaning.

Water is ideal when washing the bike. You should, however, observe the way you use it.

Water flowing out of a high-pressure nose may damage the sensitive parts of the gearing system and other delicate parts.

The brush can perform several functions and comes in various shapes and sizes. They help reach the hard-to-reach surfaces and remove grime that rinsing alone cannot manage to clean. If you have an old brush, that would be better for your MTB because its bristles are soft.

The degreaser for the bike (not turpentine or kerosene) cleans up sticky parts like the bike chain. Buy the solvent friendly to the MTB and the environment, and dispose of them properly after use.

Steps of cleaning the bike

cleaning bike

When cleaning your mountain bike, there are four steps. It involves cleaning the specific parts in the following order:

  • Washing the frame of the bike.
  • Cleaning and lubricating the chain.
  • Lubricating the derailleur and the brake levers.
  • Lubricating the derailleur and brake cables and the derailleur/brake assemblies.

Read more: Mountain Bikes Under $300 Guide

Washing the bike frame

Get a bucket of warm water and add some detergent, preferably soap. Take a brush and scrub the grime dirt gently, preferably from the top downwards.

Start with the handlebars, headset, top tube, and seat post. The next is the seat stays, the front fork, and the brakes.

When washing, avoid getting soap into the brake discs, the rotors, and the brake pads. These parts are sensitive, and the soap can damage them easily. You can use the degreaser or pure water to remove any dirt from these parts.

As you wash it down, scrub the chainstays, chainrings, cogs, and crank. Take a bucket full of clean and rinse the soap in the order of cleaning the bike.

Finally, take a clean rag and use it to dry the bike. Do not leave behind traces of water and any other visible dirt.

Cleaning and lubricating the chain

The second step in cleaning the mountain bike is the cleaning and lubricating the chain. It is a delicate part that undergoes fast wear due to the frequency of its use. If you fail to apply the lubrication frequently, you risk losing it to wear and tear.

If your chain does not have too much dirt or grime, use a degreaser and a rag. However, if the chain has a lot of grime, use a chain-cleaning device. The process is more thorough with little mess.

When the degreaser dries off, apply some drops of lube slowly to the chain. Leave the lubricant to dry and proceed to wipe off any excess. Leaving it with unwiped lube will attract more dirt.

As a reminder, lubricate the chain the moment you hear it making some noises or when it appears dry. Failing to apply the lubricant after getting wet will encourage the chain to attract rust.

Lubricating the derailleur and brake levers

Add a drop or two of the lubricant to the brake and derailleur levers after cleaning the mountain bike. Remember to apply some to the lever and barrel adjusters to help keep them in excellent working condition.

Lubricating the derailleur and brake cables

They normally dry out fast, especially during wet seasons. When riding the bike on wet roads or muddy ones, these cables get affected. You need to check them frequently to avoid them wearing out fast because of dryness.

Lubricate them as often if possible so they can translate effectively your commands to the other parts of the bike.

Lubricating the derailleur and brake assemblies

The assemblies consist of several small moving parts. In most cases, they are the points that connect several parts. Always have a close look at these points because they tend to dry out fast.

They include the arms, pulleys, and wheels. Leaving them dry without lubricant can cause them to become rigid and generate a lot of friction when riding.

The friction will wear out the parts and eventually lead to breakages.

Apply the dry lube to these points frequently to keep them in excellent functioning condition. Be cautious away from the brake pads.

Lubricants will make the brake pads slippery and will not work when you want to stop the bike. It would slide and cause accidents, especially during times of emergencies.

Lubricants also damage the internal parts of the brake pads. That is because it might not be possible to clean these parts when it becomes necessary. Failing to clean can cause the brake disc to accumulate dust which causes rust to occur and finally damage the delicate parts.


Cleaning a mountain bike has never been this easy. With water, a degreaser, a soft cloth, and a brush, you are ready to begin the task. Begin by cleaning from the top coming downwards, being very careful not to damage delicate parts.

When you are through with cleaning, wipe the bike dry and apply some lubricants to the moveable parts. It helps prevent the MTB from wearing out.

Do not let lubricant get into the brake disc. It won’t be safe when riding.

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