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"Green" cleaner for caked on grease?

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"Green" cleaner for caked on grease?

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Old 01-03-19, 06:12 PM
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oldschoolbike
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"Green" cleaner for caked on grease?

What is an effective and environmentally safe cleaner, or cleaning process, for removing caked-on sludge on chainrings, cogs, and jockey wheels? I will have the affected components dismantled for the cleaning. ZEP Citrus Degreaser works only OK, and takes a lot of direct scrubbing. BTW, the "old school" method was Varsol or paint thinner and a cheap paint brush, in a retired pie plate. That method needs to be behind us, for several reasons.

Thanks!
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Old 01-03-19, 06:23 PM
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Keeping with your green comment try Simple Green. Roger
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Old 01-03-19, 08:23 PM
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A green cleaner isn't green if you dump it down the drain along with the dissolved grease. If if contains grease then it needs to be recycled just like a solvent based cleaner.

This is only one of many reasons why odorless mineral spirits continues to be one of the more responsible degreasers. Grease and dirt settles to the bottom and the clean solvent can be poured off the top. The grease and crud at the bottom can be saved up and eventually brought to the county recycle facility.

Put the parts in an old bike bottle with mineral spirits and shake. That's all.


-Tim-
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Old 01-03-19, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by rhenning View Post
Keeping with your green comment try Simple Green. Roger
The only thing green about Simple Green is the "Liquitint Colorant." According to the SDS here's what's in it:

C9-11 Alcohols Ethoxylated
Sodium Citrate
Sodium Carbonate
Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate
Citric Acid
Methylchloroisothiazolinone
Methylisothiazolinone
Fragrance Proprietary Mixture
Liquitint Colorant

What was all that stuff made from? How much pollution was produced along with the Simple Green?

Branding & trademarks are not "green."
Marketing claims are not "green."
Greenwashing is not "green."
Virtue signalling is not virtuous.
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Old 01-04-19, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by oldschoolbike View Post
What is an effective and environmentally safe cleaner, or cleaning process, for removing caked-on sludge on chainrings, cogs, and jockey wheels? I will have the affected components dismantled for the cleaning.

...by far the best thing I've found is a Harbor Freight ultrasonic cleaner. You can keep the amount of cleaning solution you use to a minimum by putting the parts in ziploc bags (which are re-usable for this) along with the cleaner (purple stuff, or simple green mixed about half and half with water). Then the ultrasonic tank itself just needs to be filled with water to transmit the vibrations to your parts through the liquid.

It also helps if you're doing the cleaning for several projects at once.
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Old 01-04-19, 12:53 AM
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High school chemistry: water-based degreasers are useless, including anything "green".


White gas (camp fuel) is an outstanding degreaser, with obvious flammability risks. It only takes a small volume of this to strip a good amount of grease. it vaporizes quickly.


It would take multiples of any "Green" conscious-salve product to (ineffectively and laboriously) clean the same amount of grease. And then how do you discard a large amount of oil/ grease contaminated water?


Varsol or mineral spirits are a good compromise.
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Old 01-04-19, 06:57 AM
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An old screwdriver and shop rag.
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Old 01-04-19, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
High school chemistry: water-based degreasers are useless, including anything "green".


White gas (camp fuel) is an outstanding degreaser, with obvious flammability risks..
And risks of explosive vapors, skin irritation and toxicity via skin absorption and inhalation of vapors, it may also be carcinogenic. Please only use gasoline for motor and lamp fuel.
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Old 01-04-19, 07:07 AM
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Save your old toothbrushes, maybe buy a brass brush and a cassette pick/brush. And a little soap and water.

Mechanical removal takes a little more time and effort but I think it's worth it for the home mechanic. There's a place for petroleum solvents, but use them sparingly and safely.
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Old 01-04-19, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
An old screwdriver and shop rag.
Yes! The way to handle caked on crud is not to try to dissolve it using large amounts of whatever solvent/cleaner. The first step is to scrape or chip most of it off. I usually use a plastic scraper or a piece of thin wood. Once you get rid of most of it, then it's pretty easy to clean up the residue.
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Old 01-04-19, 07:14 AM
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Old 01-04-19, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
Mechanical removal takes a little more time and effort but I think it's worth it for the home mechanic.
A wire wheel mounted on a bench grinder makes mechanical removal much easier.
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Old 01-04-19, 08:44 AM
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OP asked for environmentally safe.

A wire wheel makes grease fly everywhere. It's great if you want grease all over your shop.


-Tim-
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Old 01-04-19, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
A green cleaner isn't green if you dump it down the drain along with the dissolved grease. If if contains grease then it needs to be recycled just like a solvent based cleaner.

This is only one of many reasons why odorless mineral spirits continues to be one of the more responsible degreasers. Grease and dirt settles to the bottom and the clean solvent can be poured off the top. The grease and crud at the bottom can be saved up and eventually brought to the county recycle facility.

Put the parts in an old bike bottle with mineral spirits and shake. That's all.


-Tim-
How does this work on chains?
Im going to try in any event, thx for good advice
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Old 01-04-19, 08:50 AM
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Also going to go with mechanical removal for the 'first assault'
Wire-bristle brushes are good for chains, rings, and jockey cages. Dip it in a little bit of OMS or kerosene if the stuff is really caked on.
An old shoelace can be used to 'floss' a cassette. Does a good job at getting the big chunks out from in between the cogs.
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Old 01-04-19, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
Also going to go with mechanical removal for the 'first assault'
Wire-bristle brushes are good for chains, rings, and jockey cages. Dip it in a little bit of OMS or kerosene if the stuff is really caked on.
An old shoelace can be used to 'floss' a cassette. Does a good job at getting the big chunks out from in between the cogs.
Oh, that shoelace suggestion is a good one for things like that! Thanks!
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Old 01-07-19, 04:34 PM
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Diesel fuel is the best degreaser.
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Old 01-07-19, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
Also going to go with mechanical removal for the 'first assault'
Wire-bristle brushes are good for chains, rings, and jockey cages. Dip it in a little bit of OMS or kerosene if the stuff is really caked on.
An old shoelace can be used to 'floss' a cassette. Does a good job at getting the big chunks out from in between the cogs.
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Old 01-07-19, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
Also going to go with mechanical removal for the 'first assault'
Wire-bristle brushes are good for chains, rings, and jockey cages. Dip it in a little bit of OMS or kerosene if the stuff is really caked on.
An old shoelace can be used to 'floss' a cassette. Does a good job at getting the big chunks out from in between the cogs.

Finish Line Gear Floss Microfiber Rope Stops my wife from complaining that my shoes are missing their laces.
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Old 01-07-19, 05:44 PM
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First step for me is soapy water, tooth brush, rags of torn up old towels or sheets; it often does the job on any grime. Basic chain oil will dissolve a lot of dried up dirt if left to soak in. I have tried various spray can stuff and many of them work well. Some of the citrus cleaners are very strong and should be up to the worst of jobs, other citrus cleaners are milder and will not harm paint so I guess some will stand up better to the though challenges. I have used spray can stuff like WD-40, CRC 5-56, or TF2 teflon spray lubricant, the work well as degrimers. So far I haven't found a favorite among the bio and vegetable based lines, except for the citrus cleaners I haven't rebought any of the products I have tried. A simple and low priced trick can be to soak in warm water and washing powder (for clothes), it's eco friendly and it works very well when you have the parts off the bike. Don't leave it too long, rinse off and whipe parts dry.

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Old 01-07-19, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by RGMN View Post

Finish Line Gear Floss Microfiber Rope Stops my wife from complaining that my shoes are missing their laces.

Cut up an old t-shirt and you will have yards and yards of the stuff for free.

Microfiber seems like overkill for cleaning greasy parts.


-Tim-
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Old 01-07-19, 06:06 PM
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"environmentally safe" would be isolated from the environment, then all the detritus removed has to go somewhere .. there Really is is no Away to throw things only hiding it from yourself...
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Old 01-07-19, 06:09 PM
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Originally Posted by RGMN View Post

Finish Line Gear Floss Microfiber Rope Stops my wife from complaining that my shoes are missing their laces.
An ultrasonic cleaner is more thorough and less messy.
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Old 01-09-19, 05:24 AM
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New chain if it's been through a lot could cost just as much when comparing to the chemical[s] price tag [can't forget clean-up costs too!], your time [don't undercut your labor value], reliability once it's all assembled.
Chains have been really affordable in my recent experiences. I'll continue to maintenance the der's & generally clean the bicycle, but I'll replace the chain.
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Old 01-09-19, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
"environmentally safe" would be isolated from the environment, then all the detritus removed has to go somewhere .. there Really is is no Away to throw things only hiding it from yourself...
This can't be repeated enough in this thread.

There's a maxim "use the weakest chemical that will do the job." If you want to read between the lines here: use the weakest chemical that does the job using a reasonable amount of it [the chemical], doesn't waste a ton of your time, and isn't a nightmare to dispose of.

Do y'all know how you are supposed to dispose of Simple Green and all those other 'green' or 'natural' cleaners? You can't/shouldn't just pour it down a drain or into soil. Capture all of the used liquid (clean over a container), then pour it all out into an evaporation tray. Once the liquid evaporates off, you need to collect the remaining soil, and take it to a hazmat disposal, since it contains petroleum distillates. Compare this with using mineral spirits, for instance:

You clean over a container using a small amount of mineral spirits. Pour this suspension of crap into a jar, and allow the stuff to settle. Decant the mineral spirits off the top back into the container, or simply wait until you have a full jar, and use it until it no longer cleans effectively...which will be a far longer time than a water-based cleaner. Once it no longer works effectively for your purposes (oil in the mixture will become a larger and larger part), bring the jar to be disposed of at a hazmat site (some auto shops accept these...).

Considering that you need to work in a well-ventilated space, it's a small trade-off to have a superior tool for the job.
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