Tubbing Your Bike (Now with words & video)

I used to be the kind of cyclist who would leave his bikes dirty. It got dirty today? Well, the road conditions probably won’t change between now and tomorrow.  Therefore, the roads will be dirty tomorrow, so my bike will get dirty tomorrow. NBD.

But that’s when I could leave my bike in a garage.

Once I started living with my bike, and had other people living with my bike, my mindset changed. Not only did I have to see the bike, but other people are traipsing by the bike. I don’t want them to get dirty.

One consequence was a switch to the driest chain lubes I could find. (Waxing is the driest. That’s a topic for another day)

The other was a more consistent effort to keep my bikes clean.

I now have two sets of cleaning tools. One for cleaning the bike in the house. The other for cleaning the bike outside.

Here, I detail the indoor cleaning. Warning, it uses the bathtub.

Tub is love.


Tools: two water bottles, citrus-based degreaser, soap, brushes. Tub cleaner, Bon-Ami, tub sponge

Two water bottles. Any will do.

Citrus-based Degreaser—Pretty much anything will do. I prefer to buy a big jug and then transfer part of the contents to a spray bottle. It’s easier to have the degreaser in a reusable spray bottle.

Soap—Liquid dish soap is the easiest. Any brand will do.


Brushes—Here, I’m using a pre-made kit by Pedros. The storage bag is nylon and has two holes in the bottom so you can hang the bag and the brushes will drip dry.


There are plenty of these available. From Finish Line. From Muc-Off. From Park Tool.

Tub—Any tub should do. The one I use is 52” long from edge to edge.

Tub cleaning—this is an essential element to the clean. It will keep your family together; or rather limit their reasons for killing you. I spray on Scrubbing Bubbles to the dirty, greasy spots in the tub. If that doesn’t do the trick, I get out Bon Ami, which works on porcelain as well as fiberglass.



Approach. If you have a rear fender, it probably will need to be removed. I also remove my pump and saddlebag and bottles.

Prep—Spray degreaser on the chain and cassette. Fill one bottle with warm, soapy water.

Turn on shower. Make sure bike is completely wet.

Take soapy water bottle. Spray slowly on bike. Start high to let gravity move the soap solution down to the bottom. Spray the wheels at the rim/tire end. Spray soapy water on cassette, chain, chainrings.

Get out brushes. Big, soft brushes for things like frame, derailleurs and crank. Use cone brush for hard-to-reach areas, like between wheel and fork. Small paintbrush thing is for applying degreaser to components—though I rarely use this brush. Use the smallest stiffest brushes on chain, cassette, and chainring teeth.

Rinse. I start with the shower head to get the bike basically rinsed. Then I fill bottles with cold water and spray more directly on harder-to-reach places and drivetrain.

Air dry.

When bike is removed, it’s time to clean the tub. Tub is love. The goal is a cleaner tub than when you started. That will keep you roommates and loved ones happy.  Start by rinsing the tub with clean water. Next, attack dirty/greasy spot with the Scrubbing Bubbles.  Spray on, wait 30 seconds. Wipe with sponge. If that isn’t enough, get out the Bon Ami. Shake on. Scrub off with abrasive side of sponge. The goal is a sparkling clean tub that others will be excited to take a long bath in. That will, of course, leave the tub scungy with dried soap and luffed-off skin. But at least you didn’t do it.

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