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Clean your chain on a wash machine???(14 posts)

Clean your chain on a wash machine???WiseGuy
Jul 31, 2003 8:16 AM
I recently had a friend tell me the best way to clean a chain (when it is removed from the bike) is to put it in a 2 liter plastic bottle filled with simple green. Then, put the bottle on top of a washing machine so that the chain and solution can be agitated. He clains this will make the chain sparkle.

Has anyone done this or is my buddy full of bull? The idea seems to have merit, but I'm not sure about using simple green. If I do try this method of cleaning, should I use simple green or another cleaner?

Please advise with ideas...I have the chain off and want to give it a good cleaning.

Why not just gently shake it yourself?newridr
Jul 31, 2003 8:36 AM
Sounds like a good idea, but the whole idea of putting it on the washer seems like a waste of time. Just give the bottle a shake yourself.
What's so hard to believe?niteschaos
Jul 31, 2003 8:40 AM
Using any aluminum safe degreaser in an agitator will clean just about anything. I use an ultrawide mouthed bottle for my chain cleaning so I don't have to fish it out when the chain gets coiled from the shaking. And my chains look new until they no longer shift.
If my washer shook that much, I'd get my wife to hold it ;-) nmSpunout
Jul 31, 2003 9:17 AM
Simple Green works just fine for me.MKD
Jul 31, 2003 9:59 AM
I don't know about a washer machine, I run my chain through a chain cleaner while still on the bike. To me, Simple Green is a cheap alternative to the other cleaners designed for bikes.
Use a peanut butter jar and Simple Green.jw25
Jul 31, 2003 10:02 AM
Something like a Jif or Skippy jar has a super-wide mouth, a decent seal in the lid, and is plastic, so it isn't too loud.
I generally half-fill the jar with hot tap water, add a splash of SG (maybe 1-2 Tbsp at a guess), cap, shale well for a minute or two, then dump, repeat, then rinse twice with hot water.
It's important to get the Simple Green out of the chain once it's done the job. Apparently, it can weaken links if they're left to soak in it for long periods of time (hours or more, though). Left-in degreaser can also prevent proper lube adhesion, resulting in faster wear. I find two rinses to be more than adequate.
If you use a SRAM or Wipperman chain with a quick-link, be sure to drop that in the jar as well, ans be careful not to lose it when draining solution.
Good Tip, thanks for sharing.cdhbrad
Jul 31, 2003 12:06 PM
I clean my chains using one of the Citrus based cleaners diluted with warm water, but never thought of putting it in a jar and shaking. Now, I can throw out all those old greasy toothbrushes I have accumulated from cleaning chains, etc.
best way to clean your chain is to replace itDougSloan
Jul 31, 2003 12:44 PM
If it gets gunked up enough that a wipe down won't do, it probably has enough miles on it to warrant replacement, anyway. I've destroyed several expensive cassettes letting chains go too long before replacing. Chains are relatively cheap. I hear of more and more people doing this, particularly with the narrower, lighter chains.

At $40 a chain, I will clean mine a few times before replacing,cdhbrad
Aug 1, 2003 4:58 AM
re: Clean your chain on a wash machine???trek60
Jul 31, 2003 12:51 PM
Being a gadget lover I recently acquired a small ultrasonic machine. Check e-bay for deals, well what I do is put my chain in a container, either plastic or glass (wide mouth)I put the chain and the cleaner with a weak solution of detergent and water (Simple Green works too) in the jar and put in the machine, the tank need a little water for cooling purposes. After a 3 minutes burst in the cleaner enough dirt, grit in suspension and dirty oil had come of the chain to render the solution in the jar opaque. The chain also felt different when I was handling it afterwards. Convinced me its worthwhile using this procedure. These machines are expensive when new, but if you can get on in ebay, garage sale, or by whatever means is worth the investment. Also, once cleaned I use WD40 to disipate water and compressed air. Last chain with regular cleaning, I was able to extend its life to about 2500 miles. Previous chains lasted about 1500 to 1700 miles before stretched or wore out (using park tools chain measuring tool). Most importantly you always have a nice looking bike among your riding group.
No need to clean your chainKerry Irons
Jul 31, 2003 5:34 PM
Assuming we're talking road riding, use the following technique for successful ProLink application and use:
1 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
2 - sluice on ProLink while pedaling (forward is better) so that the chain starts to drip lube. Aim the lube between the side plates and between the bushings and the side plates.
3 - run through all the gears several times, front and back.
4 - wipe the chain, cogs, pulleys, and chainrings clean with a rag.
5 - repeat 2-4 if the chain was really dirty

If you do this every 300 miles or so, you will not get any significant gunky buildup, and you won't have to clean the chain. Also, you'll only need one 4 oz. bottle of ProLink for every 5-10K miles. However, no lube is "perfect." A brite shiny chain that is clean to the touch but is well lubed and gives long mileage is still not possible. IMO, ProLink is the best compromise.

Three schools of thought: 1) wax lubes (White Lightning is the leading brand), 2) oil lubes (numerous brands, with probably TriFlow and ProLink the leaders), and 3) "magic" lubes that leave some sort of super dooper residue behind (Boeshield). Wax lubes, begun originally by folks soaking their chains in melted paraffin, tend to be clean to the touch, not hold up well in the wet, require relatively frequent application, and in White Lightning's case, are fairly expensive on an annual basis. Oil lubes may have all kinds of secret ingredients and additives, but hold up well in the wet, go long between applications, and if not applied properly, can be really dirty. Type 3 lubes claim that their ingredients leave behind some sort of much superior surface effect than wax or oil, and reported results are mixed. My own preference is for ProLink, which is an oil/additive package diluted perhaps 3X in odorless mineral spirits (OMS). You get a chain cleaning while applying due to the solvent effect, and then if you wipe things clean, oil is left only where needed after the solvent evaporates. TriFlow is just as good a lube, but very hard to wipe your chain clean enough after application to prevent a very messy build up. Some swear by simply diluting 1 part motor oil in 3-4 parts OMS and getting a much cheaper alternative to ProLink (which only costs about $6.5 per 15K miles). Recent simple tests have shown that ProLink leaves behind a more waxy residue than oil/OMS, so it is different than just that.
No need to clean your chainJimP
Jul 31, 2003 6:17 PM
You mention that ProLink is a lub/wax diluted in some slovent. If you wish to really clean the chain without using a lot of ProLink, you can use naptha (lighter fluid) in one of the chain box type cleaners. The naptha will evaporate and leaves no sticky residue like other solvents. The chain box type of cleaner seems to get more of the gunk from between the plates than simply shaking the chain in a bottle. I still prefer to use an old can of Performance Chain Wax. It seems to be paraffin with some other additives (I think some Marvel Mystery Oil). I agree that the sticky oil type lube is better in the wet but we don't seem to have much wet in North Texas in the summer, other than sprinklers.

Never water on my chain, always home brew...Spunout
Aug 1, 2003 5:46 AM
1:3 oil to mineral spirits. It is so cheap, I dump in on to clean and lube in one step. Sorta like the pro-link method described above.

If things are gunky, I spray degreaser on a rag and run the chain through...but I keep water away from my chain. That is probably because a Record chain is $80 Cdn and I change them after 4000 km.
Chain Never Dirtydaniell
Aug 1, 2003 6:41 AM
My chain never gets dirty. Every few hundred miles I dip my chain in melted paraffin. I am using a SRAM chain with the connector. I have over 3000 miles on the chain, without the slightest sizn of wear. I am thinking of replacing the chain, but the ruler test shows absolutely no wear.