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Old 01-14-09, 03:34 PM   #1
kipibenkipod
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washing powder as chain degreaser?!

Hi,
Is it possible to use washing powder as chain degreaser?!
I'm asking this because, in a tv documentary of BBC Horizon they showed that washing powder will dissolve flash and maybe the bone if left immersed. So I guess it will eat all the dirt and the grease from the chain if left immersed.

What do you think?

Thanks,
Kfir
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Old 01-14-09, 03:50 PM   #2
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washing powder... like dish detergent or clothing detergent?
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Old 01-14-09, 04:02 PM   #3
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washing powder... like dish detergent or clothing detergent?
Yep, clothing detergent.
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Old 01-14-09, 04:13 PM   #4
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Hmmm. Detergents can contain things like acids and abrasives and oxidants... would that be good or bad for a chain?
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Old 01-14-09, 04:32 PM   #5
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why not just use degreaser? i mean if you have concerns about laundry powder why use it? if you just wipe down your chain and drivetrain once every week or so(depending on how much you ride), and put new lube on it it wont need degreaser.I have a 4 year old giant that has over 2500miles on it and i have never used degreaser on it. The drivetrain looks shiney and nice too,it just takes some care.
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Old 01-14-09, 04:54 PM   #6
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My guess is that it would work reasonably well. I can't imagine it would do anything bad to the chain unless you left it to soak for a long, long time. And probably not even then. If it has not eaten through the exposed steel workings of your washer pump yet, it will not hurt your chain.

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Old 01-14-09, 05:00 PM   #7
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the reason why laundry detergent breaks down flesh and bone is because it contains enzymes.
I'm not too sure how well enzymes work as a degreaser with grease that has a petroleum base.
enzymes typically break down grease, oil and fat that has an organic base.
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Old 01-15-09, 06:22 AM   #8
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why not just use degreaser? i mean if you have concerns about laundry powder why use it? if you just wipe down your chain and drivetrain once every week or so(depending on how much you ride), and put new lube on it it wont need degreaser.I have a 4 year old giant that has over 2500miles on it and i have never used degreaser on it. The drivetrain looks shiney and nice too,it just takes some care.
I agree, but I bought an old bike, and want to have a short route in cleaning the chain. I really thought someone tried it before, but do see I will have to try it myself.
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Old 01-15-09, 07:49 AM   #9
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Yep, clothing detergent.
The good folks at United Bicycle Institute advocated dilluted liquid dish detergent. Its a very miled degreaser so it cleans without removing the oils you want to keep in the chain. That said, I agree with the pposter who advocated regularly wiping down the chain. A quick wipe and a few drops of oil a couple of times of week keeps my drive train as clean as it needs to be.
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Old 01-15-09, 01:53 PM   #10
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Laundry/dishwashing soaps,use sodium hydroxcide or sodium silicates as the base.They have a fairly high PH,around 10-11.Be careful with it,it will cause a chemical burn if your hands are wet and you get some powder on them.That is sort of the same thing I use at my shop to clean heads/blocks,except it's in a big heated spray tank.It should work fine.
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Old 01-15-09, 02:05 PM   #11
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Laundry/dishwashing soaps,use sodium hydroxcide or sodium silicates as the base.They have a fairly high PH,around 10-11.Be careful with it,it will cause a chemical burn if your hands are wet and you get some powder on them.That is sort of the same thing I use at my shop to clean heads/blocks,except it's in a big heated spray tank.It should work fine.
If you heat the solution, it will work better? or faster?
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Old 01-15-09, 02:15 PM   #12
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you know, it's probably cheaper to use a 1:3 ratio mix of 10W30 and mineral spirit
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Old 01-16-09, 02:44 AM   #13
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Washing SODA is simply sodium carbonate (Arm & Hammer brand is available that only contains this). While a mild irritant to skin, it won't dissolve you for a long time. Sodium carbonate will indeed dissolve grease, and is an ingredient of dishwashing liquids. It should work to clean bicycle components such as chains. Certainly far less expensive than some of the whizz-bang goodies out there. Sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) does NOT contain sodium hydroxide (Lye, caustic soda) or silicates. Read the label to be sure. You don't want NaOH - sodium hydroxide - around aluminum alloys. It eats these.

I've never tried this, except on greasy clothing from my shop (works), but it stands to reason it would work. Give it a try. I'd suggest wearing kitchen gloves to prevent skin irritation. Just be sure to rinse it off thoroughly - like any other de-greaser.
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Old 01-16-09, 06:01 AM   #14
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you know, it's probably cheaper to use a 1:3 ratio mix of 10W30 and mineral spirit
Thanks,
I didn't know that.
I asked this question, because I have washing powder in my home all the time. So its very hendy to use, instead going and buying oil, spirit, degreaser etc...
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Old 01-16-09, 06:07 AM   #15
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Washing SODA is simply sodium carbonate (Arm & Hammer brand is available that only contains this). While a mild irritant to skin, it won't dissolve you for a long time. Sodium carbonate will indeed dissolve grease, and is an ingredient of dishwashing liquids. It should work to clean bicycle components such as chains. Certainly far less expensive than some of the whizz-bang goodies out there. Sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) does NOT contain sodium hydroxide (Lye, caustic soda) or silicates. Read the label to be sure. You don't want NaOH - sodium hydroxide - around aluminum alloys. It eats these.

I've never tried this, except on greasy clothing from my shop (works), but it stands to reason it would work. Give it a try. I'd suggest wearing kitchen gloves to prevent skin irritation. Just be sure to rinse it off thoroughly - like any other de-greaser.
So, what you esentially say, is that I need to check the specific washing powder I use for caustic soda? And if it does, I shouldn't use it?!
If I use just the chain, which contain just steel, is it ok to use caustic soda as ingredient?
Do you suggest to use pure Sodium carbonate?
Kfir
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Old 01-16-09, 05:38 PM   #16
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I'm asking this because, in a tv documentary of BBC Horizon they showed that washing powder will dissolve flash and maybe the bone if left immersed. So I guess it will eat all the dirt and the grease from the chain if left immersed.
Haven't used powdered detergent to wash clothes for a long time but don't remember any problems with my flesh dissolving when I last used it.
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Old 01-17-09, 02:54 PM   #17
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Haven't used powdered detergent to wash clothes for a long time but don't remember any problems with my flesh dissolving when I last used it.
Hehe, no, they are talking about soaking the flash for few days I think.
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Old 01-17-09, 05:40 PM   #18
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Another problem with this is that soaps are surfactants which break down polar and non-polar molecules. That's how they can clean grease and stains. Typically, you would clean a chain with a solvent that will just get rid of the grease.
Powder soaps also clean by abrasion. You could end up leaving a film full of abrasive gunk, the exact thing you clean your chain to get rid of.
Basically, I wouldn't put it on my chain.
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Old 01-17-09, 06:29 PM   #19
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So, what you esentially say, is that I need to check the specific washing powder I use for caustic soda? And if it does, I shouldn't use it?!
If I use just the chain, which contain just steel, is it ok to use caustic soda as ingredient?
Do you suggest to use pure Sodium carbonate?
Kfir
There is no good reason to use Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH, caustic soda) to clean a chain. Read the label to ensure it says Sodium Carbonate. Sodium Carbonate (Na2CO3) is mild and will cut through grease on a chain like it cuts through grease and grime on your clothing. NaOH is corrosive, poisonous, and the wrong tool for the job.

Happy Trails!
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Old 01-18-09, 11:49 AM   #20
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Update

Hi,
I have tried it on my MTB.
I just immersed the chain for a day and it didn't work very well.
It did something, but not much.
Its like a lite solvent.
Just using dish soap and scrubbing with a rug, had better results.

Regards,
Kfir
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Old 01-18-09, 02:00 PM   #21
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That would explain why my light-colored clothing looks dirty, and I usually wear dark clothes.
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Old 01-19-09, 04:55 AM   #22
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I use washing powder for the whole bike (steel/alloy). About 1 measure for a clothes wash in a litre of warm water, it's got to be strong to cut grease and oil, and it also cuts through mud and other crud that degreaser doesn't work on.

My process is as follows: spray degreaser on the chain and sprockets to quickly dissolve the grease and oils. Now I want to get all the degreaser off and this is where the washing powder comes in - I apply liberally to the chain and sprockets with a stiff paint brush and while I'm at it paint the whole bike just being careful to keep it out of bearings. Then hose it all off with a gentle spray, give the chain a thorough squirt, then spin and let dry. The chain and sprockets will begin to rust because all oils and dirt are flushed out, so as soon as it is dry I apply fresh oil.

This method does not damage the paint, alloy, rubber; but I keep it out of the bearings as much as possible.
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Old 01-19-09, 03:50 PM   #23
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Just to add that I use washing powder method once or twice a year when the grunge gets out of hand.

Like A.Winthrop and others I'm sure, wipe and oil every few weeks!
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Old 01-20-09, 06:00 AM   #24
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The problem with using any aqueous solution is that you can't get all of the water out completely. Especially inside the rollers of a chain. And putting in new oil won't help because the oil won't mix with the water. You'll end up with oil only on the outside of the chain, while the water does nothing to lubricate the actual wear-surfaces on the inside of the rollers.

You'll need to follow up the water-based solution with acetone to dry out the chain. Then you can put fresh oil on.
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Old 01-20-09, 08:13 PM   #25
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Or take the chain off and put it in a toaster oven for a bit to dry it. Works like a charm.
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