Close-up of person applying lubricant to a bike chain

How to clean and lube a bike chain

Cleaning your bike chain comes with all kinds of benefits. Your bike will feel smoother as you pedal and shift gears, and it’ll sound smooth too (no crunching or squeaking as you ride). Plus, your chain and drivetrain components won’t wear down as quickly, since there’s less friction and grit between moving parts.

Whether you’re commuting, road biking, mountain biking or just heading out for a sunny ride in July, always treat your bicycle chain to regular cleaning and lubing. It doesn’t take long and is easy to do.

Video: How to clean and lube a bike chain

Prefer to learn from an live expert right in front of you? Check out bike maintenance clinics at your local MEC store.

Steps to clean and lube your bike chain

After one or two long rides or after wet rides, clean and lube your chain. If you’re bike commuting regularly, a once a week chain cleaning and lubing will keep it running smooth.

What you need to clean your bike chain:

  1. Clean with degreaser: If you’re using a chain cleaning tool, open it up and pour in the cleaning fluid up to fill line. Attach the chain cleaner to the chain to begin cleaning. If you don’t have a chain cleaning tool, use a rag. Pour a small amount of chain cleaner onto a folded rag, and hold the rag around the chain as you back pedal for a few rotations.
  1. Rinse off excess degreaser: If you have a chain cleaner, fill it with water, attach it to the chain and back pedal a few rotations to rinse the degreaser off the bike chain. No chain cleaning tool? Just hose your bike down to rinse off the degreaser.
  1. Dry the chain: Use a clean, dry rag to dry your chain well before you apply chain lube.
  1. Add lube to your chain: Choose a bike lubricant that’s right for the conditions. Apply a very small drop of lube to each individual roller (put the lube on the part of the chain that’s closer to the ground to prevent dripping lubricant on your bike frame).
  1. Remove excess lube: Too much lube will give dirt a place to stick, so wipe off the excess using a clean, dry rag… and then you’re ready to ride.

More bike maintenance tips

Want to learn more about caring for your bike? Check out bike maintenance clinics at your local MEC store.