OK, so I like to keep my bike clean & shiny. Call me pickey, but I like for the bike to look as good as it did when it was new. I've found several easy tricks that seem to work well for me. I'll share mine in hopes that youse gals & guys will reply with others that I might not know.
1. To keep aluminum shiny like new, I use a product called "Nevr-Dull" (sic). The product comes on cotton wadding in a can. To use it, tear off a small bit of the cotton wadding, and rub the aluminum with it. Aluminum comes out looking like chrome.
2. To keep paint looking like "freshly waxed," I use a can of Pledge spray furniture polish. Spray the polish on a rag and wipe the paint. This will displace moisture and make the paint look "wet." Don't get the overspray on the rims, though - the polish will act like a lubricant on braking surfaces. :eek:
3. To get moisture & dust out of hard-to-reach places on the bike (between the arms of brake calipers, for instance), I use "canned compessed air." This is available in the computer section of most stores & can be had cheaply. If you've an air compressor at your house, the can won't be needed. For most folks, though, the can goes a long way. If there's really hard to dislodge crud, I use some degreaser (full strength) on a Q-Tip.
4. To keep my chain from picking up lots of dust and crud, I minimize the amount of lube on the chain. This takes more time when lubing, but pays off in less frequent cleaning & lubes. To minimize the amount of lubricant used, I use a "pinpoint oiler." This is a small tube of oil with a small-ga. needle on the front. The needle allows a drop (and a small drop, at that) of oil to be placed directly on each pin-plate junction on the chain. The small amount dispensed prevents the oil from migrating too much onto the actual cross-bolts of the chain (where it isn't needed & just picks up dust). To see what links I've lubed & which I haven't I put a plastic-coated wire-tie around my starting link. The wire tie is thin enough to travel through the derailleur cogs without incident. When the wire tie comes around again, the chain is lubed!
Hope these helped. I'd like to hear your "tricks & tips" too. Thanks!