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Old 07-09-07, 07:19 PM   #1
BikeToWork
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Biodegradable Chain Cleaner?

Is there such a product that actually works? The Performance stuff I tried is really weak. Although gasoline or parts cleaner are probably the best solvent to soak a dirty chain in, I want to find a product that actually works and is safe to flush down the toilet. Any advice?
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Old 07-09-07, 07:23 PM   #2
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I like Mineral spirits, which I throw on the weeds out back and it evaporates. Biodergadable? Not really but it works the best of any chain cleaner I've tried.

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Old 07-09-07, 07:26 PM   #3
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Simple Green Automotive Degreaser. Non-toxic and biodegradable. I buy it by the gallon at around $10 and use it by the quarter cup diluted in two cups of water. So it works out to be really cheap too. Cheaper than gas or mineral spirits, in fact.

Living in an apartment building, the only place I have to work on my bikes is the kitchen or the bathroom, and then pouring used cleaner down the drain. Simple Green is safe for that.
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Old 07-09-07, 08:47 PM   #4
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Any citrus based degreaser. There's a million. My LBS happens to sell cans of "finish line" brand and it works great. Read the lable if you're uncertain about biodegradability. When my can is empty, I'll probably get a gallon of the Simple Green product recommended above.
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Old 07-10-07, 08:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikeToWork
Is there such a product that actually works? The Performance stuff I tried is really weak.
It kinda works. For a chain don't follow the directions on the bottle use it full strength. The other "green" degreasers aren't going to work any better.
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Old 07-10-07, 08:26 AM   #6
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Simple Green, undiluted at full strength.

However, i use paint thinner to clean my cassettes on occasion. I take it to the hazardous waste disposal/recycling center with my used motor oil.
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Old 07-10-07, 02:54 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by DMF
It kinda works. For a chain don't follow the directions on the bottle use it full strength. The other "green" degreasers aren't going to work any better.
Just as a point of comparison, the full strength citrus cleaner (finish line brand) I use totally and quickly removed thick asphalt from my shoes and pedals. It takes care of grease easily.
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Old 07-10-07, 05:28 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by tsl
Simple Green Automotive Degreaser. Non-toxic and biodegradable. I buy it by the gallon at around $10 and use it by the quarter cup diluted in two cups of water. So it works out to be really cheap too. Cheaper than gas or mineral spirits, in fact.
+1,
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Old 07-10-07, 05:51 PM   #9
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ZEP Citrus Degreaser.

$8.97/gallon @ Ye Olde Home Depot
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Old 07-10-07, 10:04 PM   #10
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dumonde tech citrus degreaser has worked the best for me. and it has a nice pleasant citrus smell. the thing is, while the degreasing agent might be bio-degradable, the crap it cleans off the chain may not be, and may not be safe for wildlife or ground water in your are. flushing it down the toilet is probably not the best idea for any chemical, biodegradable or not.
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Old 07-11-07, 05:45 AM   #11
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If you are worried about the environment fill a can with oil. Let the chain soak for a day, put something inside to keep the chain off the crud on the bottom. If you know what you are doing heating the oil a bit helps. After years of doing this the oil will be to cruddy to keep using. Bring it to your local recycling/garage location.
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Old 07-11-07, 05:33 PM   #12
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Golden Degreaser. Find out more at http://www.purpleextreme.com. This is not an advertisement, just a satisfied customer. I was skeptical at first but willing to try it. Worked like a charm. Took every bit of grease off the gear cluster and der cogs. I would recommend it to anyone.
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Old 09-11-07, 12:10 AM   #13
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With any of these degreasers can anyone rate other important features 1. residue on chain and bearings and 2. "dry" lack of atraction of grit? A great degreaser may prevent the next application of lube from working thereby accelerating wear.

When does one clean the chain? Appearance or a noticeable shifting performance?
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Old 09-11-07, 01:09 AM   #14
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More important than the degreaser is what is on the chain in the first place.

The nastier the lube, the nastier degreaser needed.
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Old 09-11-07, 01:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneTinSloth View Post
the thing is, while the degreasing agent might be bio-degradable, the crap it cleans off the chain may not be, and may not be safe for wildlife or ground water in your are. flushing it down the toilet is probably not the best idea for any chemical, biodegradable or not.
+1. If you're in doubt, check with your local municipality (or whoever is responsible for waste water handling in your area).

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Old 09-11-07, 03:38 AM   #16
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FinishLine Ecotech II is a biodegradable degreaser that will clean the stink off an ape. I use it full strength for true nastiness and dilute it for the mildly ugly.

Last edited by Bob Dopolina; 09-11-07 at 06:09 AM.
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Old 09-11-07, 05:55 AM   #17
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I like Mineral spirits, which I throw on the weeds out back and it evaporates.
For the worst things, mineral spirits do work better than Simple Green, etc. But rather than tossing it, you can keep it in a jar and re-use it. The crud settles out to the bottom and you can ignore it if you don't slosh things around too much next time you use it. Or just pour into another jar, leaving the crud on the bottom of the old one.
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Old 09-11-07, 06:43 AM   #18
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What about acetone? I've heard it is relatively eco-friendly (compared to, say, kerosene) and not exceptionally toxic (though I still wouldn't breathe or touch the stuff or use it near an open flame). Plus it leaves no residue on the chain. It's very volatile but I looked into it a bit and I couldn't find any references to it being a particularly strong greenhouse gas.
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Old 09-11-07, 09:58 AM   #19
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Old 09-11-07, 10:21 AM   #20
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When does one clean the chain? Appearance or a noticeable shifting performance?
I clean my chain every time I ride my bike, but I never take it off and use solvent on my chain. After every ride, I stand the bike against a wall, grab the chain with a rag, back pedal a few revolutions to clean the chain. About every other ride, I add some oil. Elapsed time, less than 1 minute.

The chain is always visually clean, silent and shifts perfectly. I measure the chain often and replace when worn.
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Old 09-14-07, 08:05 AM   #21
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Do you use 3 in 1 type or a fancy chain specific lube? I've used a number of chain lubes that all tend to get dark and sticky.
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Old 09-14-07, 08:46 AM   #22
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What about acetone? I've heard it is relatively eco-friendly (compared to, say, kerosene) and not exceptionally toxic (though I still wouldn't breathe or touch the stuff or use it near an open flame). Plus it leaves no residue on the chain. It's very volatile but I looked into it a bit and I couldn't find any references to it being a particularly strong greenhouse gas.
Acetone's not toxic to your skin (I used to wash my hands with it, it's in fingernail polish remover, etc), and the fumes aren't particularly scary. Do avoid the flame, it burns nicely. I wouldn't want to get it in groundwater in large quantities, though.

However, I'd be surprised if it did all that capable a job at dissolving heavy grease.
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Old 09-14-07, 02:38 PM   #23
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Just be careful to not get any product that contains phosphoric acid.

I purchased some "Greased Lightning" once at Home Depot because they were out of Simple Green, not realizing about the phosphoric acid. The stuff was tough on grease, but the phosphoric acid "etched" the finish on my derailleurs, etc.
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Old 09-14-07, 05:47 PM   #24
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Zep Soy Resolve. Great stuff IMO.
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Old 09-14-07, 06:52 PM   #25
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Aluminum + Simple Green

Simple Green used to be, 5 years ago, a no no because it caused corrosion to aluminum parts on aircraft. Have they changed the formula
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