The quick and effective; cheap and easy way to clean your chain

Chain cleaning has always perplexed me a little. Some people buy ultrasonic cleaners, others special tools and brushes. But, it doesn’t take a special chain cleaner or specific tools to keep your gear running slick. I have used the following method for years with good results.
In this case, even with 1000 dry miles on the chain you can still see that there’s some dirt and it’s good to get rid of that so my simple method of Simple Green, water and a sauce jar will really help you out.

What you need

  • Pasta jar with lid
  • Simple Green Solution
  • Clean Rag

I use an empty glass pasta sauce jar I find this to be the best you can reuse it over and over again and you can vigorously shake it and they generally don’t leak. I like Simple Green is easily available and eco friendly / ok to flush down drains, vs solvent based cleaners which I stay away from.

How to do it

1. Remove your chain. Most 10, 11 and 12 speed chains have quick links that make removal easy. (Note: Most manufacturers say a quick link is one use only. So have a new one on hand. They are about $3-4)

I forgot to take a before picture, but you can see the dirt in the solution. The chain was pretty mucky.

2. Put the chain in the jar, as compact at the bottom as you can and cover chain with a solution of 50% simple green and 50% warm water.

3. Shake the Jar, Let it sit around for 5mins, intermittently shake the jar with some vigour. The solution will be black. Pour it out.

4. Add new clean solution – repeat.
Pour it out, your chain should look a lot cleaner.

5. Fill jar half full of clean water, vigorously shake and immediately pour out.
Dry well and clean with a fresh rag

What it does

This method of cleaning removes large particles and certain types of grease from the chain. A note here that it may not remove every compound of grease due to using a bio cleaner. For that you would want to use a solvent based cleaner, a different technique.
Chain and component wear are accelerated as the road dirt sticks in the oil and creates an abrasive gunk on your chain. The dirt acts like sandpaper and wears metal down. A dirty chain sounds awful and costs you money.


Make sure you are installing the same way it came off. (thus the reason for the pictures or the note previously) To set the quick link, make sure the quick link is on the upper part of the chain loop / path. When in place, quickly force down on the pedal. You should hear the link click and visually see its locked.
If you have any doubts about this seek a professional service, because a poorly installed chain is not one to mess with.

And of course make sure you lube your chain with some fresh clean bike oil / lube of your choice.


Some choice words from SRAM on chains

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