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Is WD40 a good solvent for cleaning drive chain?

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Is WD40 a good solvent for cleaning drive chain?

Old 08-27-17, 10:03 PM
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johngwheeler
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Is WD40 a good solvent for cleaning drive chain?

After reading up on drive chain maintenance, I realise that I need to clean my chain, chainrings, cassette & jockey wheels more often. I have some "Muc-off" chain degreaser, which works well, but also have several cans of WD40 "multi- purpose lubricant" and some WD40 de-greaser spray. These seem to be a fair bit cheaper that specialist bike-cleaning products.

How well does the "general purpose" WD40 do for initial chain & cassette cleaning? I understand that it works as solvent (but perhaps not a very strong one?).

Would this drive chain need to be cleaned off (either with rags, or by sluicing with water) before applying normal bike chain lube?

Thanks!

John.
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Old 08-27-17, 10:08 PM
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I haven't had to go full blown degreaser route... at least not yet. I commute in all weather but I make sure I clean the drivetrain at least every other weekend. Basically I spray wd40 on the drivetrain, then soap up (dish detergent and warm water) the whole bike with a sponge, clean the drive train with said soapy water and a brush for the cassette, rinse the bike and drive train off and then dry and relube the chain. Previously when I wasn't using the wd40 I noticed the chain wouldn't clean off as nice so if say it makes a difference as it's been the only thing I changed as part of my cleaning routine.
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Old 08-27-17, 11:52 PM
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WD-40 does a great job at CLEANING a drivetrain. Then you have to lube it with something else.

WD-40 is the first thing I reach for when I'm cleaning chainrings. Works better than simple green.
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Old 08-27-17, 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by srestrepo View Post
I haven't had to go full blown degreaser route... at least not yet. I commute in all weather but I make sure I clean the drivetrain at least every other weekend. Basically I spray wd40 on the drivetrain, then soap up (dish detergent and warm water) the whole bike with a sponge, clean the drive train with said soapy water and a brush for the cassette, rinse the bike and drive train off and then dry and relube the chain. Previously when I wasn't using the wd40 I noticed the chain wouldn't clean off as nice so if say it makes a difference as it's been the only thing I changed as part of my cleaning routine.
This sounds like a good procedure. I found that wiping the chain with a rag soaked in WD40 did get it a bit cleaner than just wiping it off with a dry rag, hence my question.

It sounds like I should wash it off with some detergent before applying any new lube, which is what I was concerned about.

Thanks!
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Old 08-28-17, 12:04 AM
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler View Post
This sounds like a good procedure. I found that wiping the chain with a rag soaked in WD40 did get it a bit cleaner than just wiping it off with a dry rag, hence my question.

It sounds like I should wash it off with some detergent before applying any new lube, which is what I was concerned about.

Thanks!
Nope! Don't bother with the detergent and water. Just relube once the WD40 has evaporated.
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Old 08-28-17, 12:52 AM
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WD 40 is a good cleaner for chains without rubber O rings. For a bikechain, it is good, as but not good for motorcycle chains with O rings.
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Old 08-28-17, 05:54 AM
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WD-40 is basically OMS (Odorless Mineral Spirits, i.e. sophisticated Kerosene) containing a small amount of lube. It's a pretty expensive way to buy OMS since every home store and paint store sells it by the gallon. However, the spray cans may be worth it to you for the convenience. I agree about avoiding the soap and water wash.
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Old 08-28-17, 06:13 AM
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+1 for Odorless Mineral Spirits (the real thing, not the milky "green" version). Whenever my drivetrain needs it, I'll pop the chain and cassette off and drop them into one of those 2 quart painters plastic containers with just enough OMS to cover and agitate it for 30 seconds or so. Let sit for a few minutes while I tend to other maintenance tasks and then shake again before removing and wiping clean. The parts look like new.

A note for any newbies reading this thread: If you chain and cassette are constantly getting gunked up, chances are you are using excessive lubricants, especially if you are using a spray lube. A drop at each pin, spin the crank for 10-15 seconds, then wipe off the excess.

I found that the wire mesh basket strainers for coffee makers just fit in the top of a 1 quart plastic paint container. Drop in a cheap coffee filter and run your used OMS through it. The dissolved lubricant stays in the OMS but the grit gets filtered out. Viola' homemade WD40. It can be reused dozens of times.
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Old 08-28-17, 06:31 AM
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Read this magnum opus and enjoy! http://www.bikeforums.net/bicycle-me...ased-lube.html
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Old 08-28-17, 06:49 AM
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WD-40 will work, but odorless mineral spirits work just as well, and are cheaper and reusable.
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Old 08-28-17, 06:58 AM
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I use WD-40 to clean and lube my chain. I spray it heavily on the spots when cleaning, or apply to a rag and run chain through for lubing. I do it every other ride and has worked well...my chain stays nice looking too, instead of all that black gunk.
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Old 08-28-17, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by corrado33 View Post
WD-40 does a great job at CLEANING a drivetrain. Then you have to lube it with something else.

WD-40 is the first thing I reach for when I'm cleaning chainrings. Works better than simple green.
+++1

WD apparently stands for "Water Displacer". Supposedly, it was the inventors 40th trial formula.

You can use it along for cleaning, but perhaps this is better. Use a chain washer (a chain bath, with the housing that the chain runs through) to get most of the crud off. If you then spray with WD40 (avoid getting on the tire - use a piece of plastic - like a plastic file folder - to protect the tire), you'll displace the water. I use compressed air to get rid of any liquid. Then I lube. So, for me: liquid bio degreaser and hot water (or chain bath), blow dry, WD-40, blow dry, lube. I use tri-flow. The GCN fellow in the youtube video (4:35 or so) below claims that WD-40 works as a lube, too. If you wash your bike every couple days, this might work. As Juan reports, it works for him, too. But WD-40 does gum up if left in place, so if you wash your bike chain and lube it every season, I'd definitely would get rid of WD40 (blow it off or use a rag) and use proper lube. I have to think that the lubricity of tri-flow beats WD-40, too.



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Old 08-28-17, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
WD-40 is basically OMS (Odorless Mineral Spirits, i.e. sophisticated Kerosene) containing a small amount of lube. It's a pretty expensive way to buy OMS since every home store and paint store sells it by the gallon. However, the spray cans may be worth it to you for the convenience. I agree about avoiding the soap and water wash.
It depends on what you call "small". It's about 25% mineral oil which I wouldn't call a "small" amount. 1 to maybe 5% is small.

And mineral spirits, either the odor or odorless variety, is not "sophisticated" kerosene. You might consider it kerosene with a lower boiling point. It's distillate of petroleum as is kerosene but it's recovered from petroleum at a lower temperature. The mineral oil in the WD40 is a much higher boiling point distillate of petroleum.

Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Nope! Don't bother with the detergent and water. Just relube once the WD40 has evaporated.
See above. 25% of the WD40 isn't going to evaporate under ambient conditions.
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Old 08-28-17, 08:21 AM
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got a bucket full of it? you get a chain cleaner soaking, off the bike, than spraying it, on the bike.
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Old 08-28-17, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
See above. 25% of the WD40 isn't going to evaporate under ambient conditions.
Speaking in broad terms always seems to get me in trouble. I was just envisioning waiting a reasonable amount of time for the solvent to evaporate, and then adding lube without going through any other unnecessary steps. Obviously, something sprayed with WD40 won't dry completely.
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Old 08-28-17, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Speaking in broad terms always seems to get me in trouble. I was just envisioning waiting a reasonable amount of time for the solvent to evaporate, and then adding lube without going through any other unnecessary steps. Obviously, something sprayed with WD40 won't dry completely.
I think this is part of the problem that many people have with WD40. They expect it to go away but it really doesn't. They would probably be better off with something like Finish Line Speed Clean which is essentially WD40 without the mineral oil. But it is also horribly expensive at about $12 for $3 of mineral spirits.

Frankly, I don't find too much wrong with WD40 as long as it is used properly. It works wonders on old Shimano shifters that get gummy with time. I've brought many of them back to life with just a spritz of WD40. It works on chains too but far too often people spray the stuff everywhere and end up with greased brakes
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Old 08-28-17, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
It depends on what you call "small". It's about 25% mineral oil which I wouldn't call a "small" amount. 1 to maybe 5% is small.
I thought it was a lot lower than 25% and if the "WD" name really means anything it's something different from just mineral oil
Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
....mineral spirits, either the odor or odorless variety, is not "sophisticated" kerosene. You might consider it kerosene with a lower boiling point. It's distillate of petroleum as is kerosene but it's recovered from petroleum at a lower temperature. The mineral oil in the WD40 is a much higher boiling point distillate of petroleum.
Yes, I know about distillate boiling ranges. However, from a cleaning solvent standpoint OMS and Kerosene do the same thing and can be used interchangeably.
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Old 08-28-17, 10:01 AM
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Old 08-28-17, 11:24 AM
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Some strange information and opinion in this thread. No mention of OMS in the MSDS for WD.

Lots of other threads on here detailing why you DONT use water based anything on a chain.

WD would be great for removing water if you have ridden in a storm, but as mentioned before it doesnt have enough lubrication properties to be used by itself.

-SP
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Old 08-28-17, 11:40 AM
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Oh I miss my OMS in CA. Gone for "the greater good."
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Old 08-28-17, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Yes, I know about distillate boiling ranges. However, from a cleaning solvent standpoint OMS and Kerosene do the same thing and can be used interchangeably.
I would caution against using kerosene. While it is true that it will do the same as mineral spirits, it's oilier and doesn't evaporate as cleanly as mineral spirits. Same goes of for diesel fuel.
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Old 08-28-17, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by speedy25 View Post
Some strange information and opinion in this thread. No mention of OMS in the MSDS for WD.

Lots of other threads on here detailing why you DONT use water based anything on a chain.

WD would be great for removing water if you have ridden in a storm, but as mentioned before it doesnt have enough lubrication properties to be used by itself.

-SP
OMS stands for odorless mineral spirits. All that means is that the mixture has had the six carbon aromatic molecules removed (mostly). The aromatics are what give "odored" mineral spirits their "odor". The "Aliphatic Hydrocarbon" and "LVP[low vapor point] Aliphatic Hydrocarbon" in the WD40 is the "mineral spirits" part of the mixture.

WD40 isn't "water based" either. The "Aliphatic Hydrocarbon", "LVP Aliphatic Hydrocarbon" and "Petroleum Base Oil" are all hydrocarbon derived and completely water immiscible. The surfactant in the MSDS is probably there to suck up small amounts of water but the holding capacity of the liquid would be very small.

As for removing water after a storm or after the elaborate washing routines that people insist on using for chains, there are other, better solvents to use if you feel the need. Acetone or denatured alcohol will ride the chain of water more efficiently. Just lubricating will do an adequate job as well.
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Old 08-28-17, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by desertdork View Post
Oh I miss my OMS in CA. Gone for "the greater good."
Home Depot carries Clean-Strip Odorless Mineral Spirits in parts of California.

Alternatively, you can use stove fuel (aka white gas or "Coleman" fuel) or kerosene. Stove fuel is preferable for the reasons given above. Stove fuel is, basically, odored mineral spirits.
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Old 08-28-17, 04:55 PM
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I prefer PB Blaster to WD40. I think it penetrates better. I use it to coat the auger housing on my snow blower too. Keeps the snow from sticking. When I get a bike that's really greasy, I use brake parts cleaner on unpainted parts. Degreases almost instantly and evaporates away cleanly. Great for cleaning bearings in cages too. I use a wire brush to get between the sprockets. Don't get brake parts cleaner on painted surfaces though as it could dull the finish.
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Old 08-28-17, 04:59 PM
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I don't usually clean my chains with WD-40, but I used it once on a chain with caked old grease and it cleaned better than kerosene or even gasoline.
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