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Chain Degreaser

Old 04-25-15, 06:01 PM
  #1  
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Chain Degreaser

I have one of those chain cleaner things in which you're supposed to pour a cleaner/degreaser, then backpedal your chain through it. I was wondering if anyone has tried Simple Green for this, and if they could tell me how well it worked.

The reason I am asking is because I have a gallon of it sitting here, and I figured it would be silly to go out and buy something else. Otherwise, if Simple Green is not a good suggestion, can anyone recommend a good eco-friendly degreaser?

Thanks.

Last edited by mrblue; 04-25-15 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 04-25-15, 06:26 PM
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I'm a big believer that the best alternative for degreasing chains that were oiled with a petroleum product (most chain lubes in one form or another) is petroleum distillate, ie. mineral spirits, naphtha, or similar. These do a better job dissolving greases and oils and washing them free of the chain, then dry completely leaving the chain ready for oiling.

As to being eco-friendly, consider.

Petroleum solvents can be stored and reused after allowing a few weeks for solids to settle, so those who carefully use them introduce very little to the ecosystem. OTOH it takes much more of products like simple green, which don't lend themselves to reuse, so large quantities of caustics go into the waste stream along with whatever was washed off the chain itself.
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Old 04-25-15, 06:39 PM
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Second for mineral spirits. About 2oz of it in the bottom of a jar, drop in the chain, let it sit, pull out the chain. I've found that citrus-based degreasers can't get in between the plates, and never really get a "deep clean." I do still use citrus-based for the cassette and chainrings-- they clean up real nice after a scrubbing and hot water soak.
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Old 04-25-15, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I'm a big believer that the best alternative for degreasing chains that were oiled with a petroleum product (most chain lubes in one form or another) is petroleum distillate, ie. mineral spirits, naphtha, or similar. These do a better job dissolving greases and oils and washing them free of the chain, then dry completely leaving the chain ready for oiling.

As to being eco-friendly, consider.

Petroleum solvents can be stored and reused after allowing a few weeks for solids to settle, so those who carefully use them introduce very little to the ecosystem. OTOH it takes much more of products like simple green, which don't lend themselves to reuse, so large quantities of caustics go into the waste stream along with whatever was washed off the chain itself.
I agree with this. Maybe it's obvious, but you're not recommending using OMS in the clip on chain cleaner, right? I use it, with chain removed, as the Dr. explains.
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Old 04-25-15, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by alfonsejr View Post
I agree with this. Maybe it's obvious, but you're not recommending using OMS in the clip on chain cleaner, right? I use it, with chain removed, as the Dr. explains.
I haven't played with the plastics that these gadgets are made of, but I'm fairly sanguine that they can hold up to solvents like OMS, though maybe not to stronger ones. If the rear wheel is replaced with a chain pulley, the mess involved with these gadgets can be kept reasonable. It will require a number of solvent changes with the gadget drained into the storage jar and fresh solvent added, until it stays clean --- probably 3-5 rinses needed.

Understand, that I'm not a fan of these gadgets, just saying that I think they can be used with OMS in lieu of water based stuff.
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Old 04-25-15, 08:28 PM
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Someone needs to pipe up for Mother. If you buy into the mineral spirits claim you might as well start bathing in mineral spirits. Heck, let's add it to our dishwasher. It could go in the rinse aide dispenser. Haha

Nobody would consider washing their clothes in mineral spirits (though they are used in dry cleaning) but there's a rush to the hardware store every time the subject comes up. Mineral spirits are toxic, they are highly volatile, their fumes can cause brain damage if you don't properly ventilate or wear breathing apparatus. I would be very circumspect about keeping them in the house/garage, unlocked, where young children play.

I don't know about Simple Green and I'm not interested in debating its merits but I can tell you this. You can safely use a citrus-based solvent that sees the start of its life in an orchard, not a oil field, and ends with safe disposal. Contact your local materials handling authorities for exact details.

You could say, "All I want to do is clean my drivetrain, quick and easy. The mineral spirits sound simple." I'd respond, "You could drive your car, but you ride a bike."

Last edited by cale; 04-25-15 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 04-25-15, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by cale View Post
. . . Mineral spirits are toxic . . . I don't know about Simple Green and I'm not interested in debating its merits but I can tell you this. You can safely use a citrus-based solvent . . .
Just FYI:
Simple green contains less than 5% of Sodium Citrate which may or may not be derived from plants.
Among other synthetic chemicals, it also contains 2‐butoxyethanol and Tetrapotassium Pyrophosphate which have exposure limits ten and seventy times lower than OMS.
You might want to know that water is also "toxic."
"I don't know . . . but I can tell you."
No one is recommending a bath in OMS; are you recommending a bath in Simple Green? It's worse.
Thanks for the laughs. =)

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Old 04-25-15, 09:12 PM
  #8  
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Just went to a basic maintenance class held by a LBS this week. The head service tech said that they use Simple Green on their own bike when they are low on cash but normally use the Park degreaser. So short of it is yes you can use Simple Green.. I personally have not used it.
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Old 04-25-15, 09:17 PM
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If you don't want to use petroleum, dish detergent is as effective and much less toxic, much less corrosive than fake "citrus cleaners."
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Old 04-25-15, 09:23 PM
  #10  
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Chain cleaner debates tend to get very ideological. Arguments about what work best are complicated by what's "greenest".

My only contribution is to suggest that you use whatever works beat for you, but, whatever you use, use it responsibly.
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Old 04-25-15, 10:13 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by anklework View Post
just fyi:
Simple green contains less than 5% of sodium citrate which may or may not be derived from plants.
Among other synthetic chemicals, it also contains 2‐butoxyethanol and tetrapotassium pyrophosphate which have exposure limits ten and seventy times lower than oms.
You might want to know that water is also "toxic."
"i don't know . . . But i can tell you."
no one is recommending a bath in oms; are you recommending a bath in simple green? It's worse.
Thanks for the laughs. =)
I don't think I've ever read a response that claims great bemusement but contains such obvious disregard for the subject. I don''t know how I could have been more clear. You and simple green can have your little tiff elsewhere. I could care less.

My choice is to avoid the petroleum solutions because they are not necessary.

Last edited by cale; 04-25-15 at 10:18 PM.
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Old 04-25-15, 11:51 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by cale View Post
I don't think I've ever read a response that claims great bemusement but contains such obvious disregard for the subject. I don''t know how I could have been more clear. You and simple green can have your little tiff elsewhere. I could care less.

My choice is to avoid the petroleum solutions because they are not necessary.
You called the tune. Take your pick -- any "citrus" cleaner discussed here has no connection with an orchard and is much more toxic than OMS. They are also chock full of petrochemicals.

And since OMS is more effective, less is used so it's a win for the environment and the person using it. (But don't let simple verifiable facts get in the way of emotion.)
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Old 04-26-15, 01:22 AM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
You called the tune. Take your pick -- any "citrus" cleaner discussed here has no connection with an orchard and is much more toxic than OMS. They are also chock full of petrochemicals.

And since OMS is more effective, less is used so it's a win for the environment and the person using it. (But don't let simple verifiable facts get in the way of emotion.)
You're giving me heartburn. Go away, now.
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Old 04-26-15, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by cale View Post
You're giving me heartburn. Go away, now.
Sorry, simple, verifiable facts can do that.
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Old 04-26-15, 08:35 PM
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I used OMS in my chain cleaner, it worked well cleaning the chain, but it made a big mess on everything else. My advise, for get the chain cleaner, dunk it is a coffee can and swish it around, wipe it a few times and your done. It's still a mess, but you can control it better.
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Old 04-26-15, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by leob1 View Post
I used OMS in my chain cleaner, it worked well cleaning the chain, but it made a big mess on everything else. My advise, for get the chain cleaner, dunk it is a coffee can and swish it around, wipe it a few times and your done. It's still a mess, but you can control it better.
I know what you'e trying to say -- forget the chain cleaner [remove the chain,--added] dunk it in .... etc.

But the straight reading conjures up a better mental image
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Old 04-27-15, 12:32 PM
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I sort of disagree with the whole take off the chain thing. Using a chain cleaning tool while the chain is on the bike allows you to get in between the links.

Does someone have a technique to clean between the links when the chain is off? Maybe take two brushes and hold them together while passing the chain through? I've tried to use the chain cleaning tool with the chain off and it's not all that easy.
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Old 04-27-15, 01:10 PM
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The easiest way is to clean often and not wait for the chain to disappear in a glob of dirt that prevents it from engaging with the teeth on the gears..
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Old 04-27-15, 05:11 PM
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+1
Keep it clean.
And don't be mean.
I use kerosene.
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Old 04-27-15, 06:16 PM
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The best advice was already given to "clean the chain often". I have used kerosene over the years as well as diluted Simple Green, and both with and without the "brush cleaner" you can use without removing the chain. If you clean the chain every few rides ( depending on road or trail conditions ), using a rag dampened with either kerosene or Simple Green, and back pedaling the chain through the rag a few turns, then lubricating with your favorite lube, the job is quickly done. It takes probably 10 minutes at most from start to finish.
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Old 04-27-15, 08:30 PM
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I use it in one of those cleaner things as well, usually diluted somewhat. Then use tri-flow. Whenever the chain is dirty. Road bike chain has over 3K miles on it. Commuter/cross bike has less and will be replaced very soon but it's subjectd to much dirtier conditions and it's a cheaper chain that I think stretched. Mountain bike chain still looks new but it's only two years old.
No problems with derailers, cassettes or carbon, aluminum or steel frames.
It's a machine, they run better when cleaned and properly lubed.
I skimmed he previous replies because I felt they weren't answering the question.
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Old 04-28-15, 06:05 AM
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I use simple green or similar detergents (dish soap, hertel, whatever) for most of my chain cleaning. No, it won't get it 100% clean, but who cares, chains are cheap enough that "bare minimum" maintenance is probably the only thing that's worth it.

I use OMS when I buy used bikes that have years worth of hard caked on grease, it's the only thing that works. But they're a pain to use. Wear gloves and glasses, work in a well ventilated area. People talk about OMS being volatile and drying fast, but that's not true at least of the stuff sold in Canada, an oily residue remains for at least a couple days. So I usually have to do a detergent clean after that. Then you end up with both OMS and OMS-contaminated detergent that you have to bring to a disposal center. Ugh, only use OMS when absolutely needed.
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Old 04-28-15, 07:24 AM
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Diesel fuel is my current favorite. After soaking & cleaning let the residue settle to bottom of container. Pour off clean fuel & burn it in tractor. Pour sludge into waste oil container for recycling. That's it, that's all - done deal.
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Old 04-28-15, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by trunolimit View Post
I sort of disagree with the whole take off the chain thing. Using a chain cleaning tool while the chain is on the bike allows you to get in between the links.

Does someone have a technique to clean between the links when the chain is off? Maybe take two brushes and hold them together while passing the chain through? I've tried to use the chain cleaning tool with the chain off and it's not all that easy.
It's very easy. Use an ultrasonic cleaner with Simple Green and water.
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