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Simple Green Or Something Else?

Old 11-23-20, 11:34 AM
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Haselsmasher
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Simple Green Or Something Else?

I would think there'd have been half-a-gazillion threads on degreasers. I just did a search......maybe I'm a bad searcher. They didn't pop up.

Thoughts on using standard Simple Green vs a "bike specific" degreaser? Standard Simple Green is so easy to find. Cheap. If there's some compelling reason to use something else I will - but doing so is such a pain (availability, price).

I'm talking about standard drivetrain cleaning for a road bike - nothing very outrageous in terms of dirt and use.

Thanks!
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Old 11-23-20, 11:50 AM
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What floats your boat? Whatever works for you is what you should use. If you see that it's causing some other issue further down the road then you'll know to try something else.

I use to just take an old rag and wet it with oil or mineral spirits, or WD40 or sometimes just dry and wipe the gunk off my chain and cogs. I'd fold it or roll it some and see-saw it down between the cogs.

Currently I've just been using those premoistened cleaning wipes that come in a canister. Only takes two or three for a road bike. Use them on the frame first then the chain and cogs.
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Old 11-23-20, 11:52 AM
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I always use Simple Green. I'd read studies claiming it can be bad for parts of the drivetrain if you let it soak in Simple Green for a long time. But I just usually clean with it and then rinse with water. I dry everything thoroughly using an air compressor. A small air compressor has been one of my best investments in helping clean my bike.
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Old 11-23-20, 11:57 AM
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I too use simple green, but only for surface stuff. For chains or a deep clean I much prefer the citrus based degreasers from Pedro's and Finish Line. I like that I can save the stuff and let the debris separate to reuse (it doesn't lose a step). Mineral spirits have the benefit (if you don't mind VOC and contributing to surface ozone?) of evaporating from your components, meaning they don't need a rinse.

Simple green uses water, which means that water can get into places it will have a hard time evaporating from. It does the job, but the job takes longer with drying time factored in. Getting oil/grease off of a chainstay and off of cassette cogs and chainrings? Sure! I don't use it for chains anymore.
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Old 11-23-20, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Unca_Sam View Post
I too use simple green, but only for surface stuff. For chains or a deep clean I much prefer the citrus based degreasers from Pedro's and Finish Line. I like that I can save the stuff and let the debris separate to reuse (it doesn't lose a step). Mineral spirits have the benefit (if you don't mind VOC and contributing to surface ozone?) of evaporating from your components, meaning they don't need a rinse.
More than a decade ago, I was a hard-core roller blader. Used to clean my bearings religiously! Good clean bearings with light oil made a HUGE difference in skating. But they had to be cleaned and lubed often. Used many different things to clean. Finally, I settled on gasoline! Bad for the ozone and environment. Bad for the lungs. Flammable. But damn, it worked the best! I tried various citrus cleaners and always found a residue after cleaning. It was sticky. The difference in cleaning with gasoline vs. citrus was obvious if you held the bearing and rolled it in your hand after cleaning, even before applying any oil. Biking is different as we pack our bearings with heavy grease. The rolling resistance between light oil and heavy grease is not noticeable on bike bearings. So I don't think anyone will notice a difference if there's a bit of residual stickiness from citrus based cleaners on the drivetrain. But because of my OCD, I still rather not use Citrus. And since gasoline is a pain and bad for everything else, I've changed to Simple Green. Much easier to dispose of properly! Just rinse and dry thoroughly.
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Old 11-23-20, 01:19 PM
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Another fan of Simple Green here.
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Old 11-23-20, 06:44 PM
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Thanks all. I was basically checking for a report ala "Simple Green has <x> in it and it's well known that is horrible for <chains, cassettes, allowing lube to work, etc.>" Not seeing any of those kinds of reports......

I'll probably keep using SG for now. I live in CO. While I don't tend to ride in horribly bad weather, this time of year the drivetrain sure picks up a lot more gunk since areas are periodically wet from melting snow. I've put a QuickLink on my chain so will be taking the chain off more than I have before. I don't let it soak for hours and hours. But I like to leave it in there a good 30-60 mins.

It doesn't seem like it's gonna do any damage.

Thanks.

Jim
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Old 11-23-20, 07:24 PM
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Home Depot has its own store brand of a citrus degreaser spray that works surprisingly well IMO. I use it to clean the bike components, but it is also good for cleaning your greasy hands too. I also dabble in painting (oil paints on canvas) and itís great for cleaning the old paint off the pallet, and other places.

Dan
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Old 11-24-20, 09:34 AM
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I like simple green, but when it comes to hardened grease, I don’t have the patience to wait for it to work, So it’s usually WD40, or something similar first, then simple green.
Tim
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Old 11-24-20, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by howardv View Post
More than a decade ago, I was a hard-core roller blader. Used to clean my bearings religiously! Good clean bearings with light oil made a HUGE difference in skating. But they had to be cleaned and lubed often. Used many different things to clean. Finally, I settled on gasoline! Bad for the ozone and environment. Bad for the lungs. Flammable. But damn, it worked the best! I tried various citrus cleaners and always found a residue after cleaning. It was sticky. The difference in cleaning with gasoline vs. citrus was obvious if you held the bearing and rolled it in your hand after cleaning, even before applying any oil. Biking is different as we pack our bearings with heavy grease. The rolling resistance between light oil and heavy grease is not noticeable on bike bearings. So I don't think anyone will notice a difference if there's a bit of residual stickiness from citrus based cleaners on the drivetrain. But because of my OCD, I still rather not use Citrus. And since gasoline is a pain and bad for everything else, I've changed to Simple Green. Much easier to dispose of properly! Just rinse and dry thoroughly.
Please don't use gasoline as a degreaser. Ever.
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Old 11-24-20, 12:20 PM
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I've used Simple Green in the past, with no problems. Yes, as pointed out above, there were issues with soaking components (chains, I think) for days in Simple Green. I forgot the failure mechanism, but something like stress corrosion cracking because of the alkalinity or acidity of the solution reacting over a long time. For some reason, I don't like the scent of Simple Green. It's not offensive but to me has a sweet smell that I don't like. In the last few years, I've been using a citrus based, water soluble degreaser. I buy it by the gallon (at typical hardware or home improvement stores) and use to clean the stove top, bicycle and general degreasing.
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Old 11-24-20, 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Please don't use gasoline as a degreaser. Ever.
Yup. Gasoline isnít just dangerous, it is stupidly dangerous. Anyone using it as a degreaser will burn something down eventually. There are far safer hydrocarbon solvents which work just as well.

Originally Posted by Haselsmasher View Post
Thanks all. I was basically checking for a report ala "Simple Green has <x> in it and it's well known that is horrible for <chains, cassettes, allowing lube to work, etc.>" Not seeing any of those kinds of reports......

I'll probably keep using SG for now. I live in CO. While I don't tend to ride in horribly bad weather, this time of year the drivetrain sure picks up a lot more gunk since areas are periodically wet from melting snow. I've put a QuickLink on my chain so will be taking the chain off more than I have before. I don't let it soak for hours and hours. But I like to leave it in there a good 30-60 mins.

It doesn't seem like it's gonna do any damage.

Thanks.

Jim
Most everyone who has read the Bike Forums more than once will have heard this spiel but Iíll say it again. There is a much better way, especially for here in Colorado. These pictured of one of my old bikes were taken at the end of February, 2008.

Library - 3391 by Stuart Black, on Flickr
IMG_1153 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

You can see the frame and derailer is dirty. I have homemade fenders on the bike that are minimal and very far away from the tire so that the wheel doesnít get clogged with snow. The bike was my main commuter bike for many years. One of the things you might also notice, the chain, chainrings, and cassette are all clean. The drivetrain hadnít been cleaned prior to the pictures...not even a wipe down. Howís that work, you are probably asking? It boils down to making choices which donít result in dirty drivetrains.

Prior to installation, I strip the chain of the factory lubricant with mineral spirits. I put the chain in about a cup of mineral spirits in an old Gatorade bottle. I shake it for 30 seconds or until my arm gets tired. Then I pull the chain out and let it dry. A cup of mineral spirits will degrease a dozen or so chains. This is the only time the chain is cleaned this way. I have a quart of mineral spirits that Iíve had for nearly 20 years and still havenít used it up. I have roughly 15 bikes in my garage and every one of them gets the same treatment.

After Iíve installed the chain, I lubricate with White Lightning Clean Ride, mostly...although Iíve been experimenting with Rock ĎNí Roll Gold and Red recently (I havenít seen any difference in results). It last a lot longer than the 100 miles the manufacturer suggest, however. Iíve been able to get as many as 700 miles in dry conditions. The only time I really tracked it was in a 5 week tour around Lake Erie so it even works outside of Colorado. Yes, you should reapply it after a wet ride but you should do the same with an oil based lubricant.

I can even handle the chain without having to suit up in a hazmat suit. This picture was taken at work in the stairwell where I stashed my bike on a random date (July, 1013). Try doing the same with an oiled chain.

2013-07-26 08.06.29 by Stuart Black, on Flickr

Finally, my chain mileage is on a par with what other people report...around 3500 miles. I donít have to clean every week. I donít have to wipe before or after every ride. I can put the bike in the inside of a car with a light interior without having to worry about making it a dark interior. My cat can rub against it


and I donít have to worry about trying to give her a bath to remove the grease. That, by the way, was taken in November of last year. I commute on that one too.

Finally, I have a bottle of Simple Green that is likely to grow mold before I get around to using it up. That and the mineral spirits get used very sparingly. I hate cleaning bikes and have done everything I can to make them as maintenance free as possible.
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Old 11-24-20, 01:38 PM
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Old 11-24-20, 06:44 PM
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Hot water and Dawn Platinum 4x
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Old 11-25-20, 01:35 AM
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If you are worried about Simple Green’s aggressiveness, they also make an “aircraft and aluminum” formulation that is safer for reactive metals. This is what i use when the degreaser will sit on a component (soaking, etc...). I get a gallon bottle from Amazon.
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Old 11-26-20, 10:37 AM
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when I get a dirty bike in the shop(weekly) I will often soak a wet rag with Simple Green and wipe it down then hose off. I then strip it and wipe the frame down with mineral spirits or WD 40. This will remove the caked on grease and oil. Then I use white polishing compound on the frame to deep clean it. This will remove many blemishes and things like paint spatter while removing a thin surface layer of oxidation , often restoring the original color to the paint. Finally I will wipe it down with Dawn detergent and a wet rag then finally rinse in clean water. At this point it is ready for wax or a clear coat of Rustoleum Automotive clear enamel. Brakes and levers are cleaned then soaked in a tub of white vinegar for a few hours or overnight then rinsed. Steel parts are soaked in vinegar to dissolve surface rust then rinsed and buffed on a wheel or wiped with Brasso. Some parts, like derailleurs are soaked in mineral spirits then scrubbed with dawn and hot water and finally coated with wd 40 to prevent rust till I re assemble everything. I find old tooth brushes are perfect for cleaning parts in the sink with dawn . They get in to corners and crevices pretty well. Chains are checked for stretch and if acceptable Will be cleaned with a wire brush chucked up in my my bench model drill press .

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Old 11-26-20, 11:32 AM
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I do the same thing that I do in the kitchen. If something won't just wipe off, then I let it set wet for a few minutes / hours depending. Then I just wipe it off. On a bike, if the contamination appears to be oily, or it's a rust prone mechanism, then it's a spritz of mineral spirits, followed by letting it sit for a while.

This is a difference between a home shop and a commercial shop. At home, time is usually on our side.
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Old 11-26-20, 11:38 AM
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Scrubbing bubbles bathroom cleaner with a soapy water follow up is surprisingly good.

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Old 11-26-20, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Rage View Post
Another fan of Simple Green here.
I also like simple green. When I first used it, I poured the waste into a potted plant to see what it would do to the plant. Surprisingly, nothing happened. So, I have continued to use it and continued to pour the old stuff into a potted plant.
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Old 11-26-20, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by vespasianus View Post
I also like simple green. When I first used it, I poured the waste into a potted plant to see what it would do to the plant. Surprisingly, nothing happened. So, I have continued to use it and continued to pour the old stuff into a potted plant.
Your post is strangely prescient as I do a lot of gardening. I also do most of my bike maintenance and cleaning in or right outside a shed in the yard.
Crazy, huh?
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Old 11-26-20, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by vespasianus View Post
I also like simple green. When I first used it, I poured the waste into a potted plant to see what it would do to the plant. Surprisingly, nothing happened. So, I have continued to use it and continued to pour the old stuff into a potted plant.
Good to know!
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Old 11-27-20, 12:07 AM
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Never tried simple green but seems like some of you here used it so since our family is moving towards living green, might as well use this.
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Old 11-27-20, 04:57 AM
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For drivetrains I use mineral spirits
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Old 11-27-20, 05:13 AM
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For the simple green users; do you use it full strength or dilute with water?
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Old 11-27-20, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by anthonybkny View Post
For the simple green users; do you use it full strength or dilute with water?
You can dilute. I use a toothbrush to scrub things and a 75/15 water mix still works plenty well. I dilute most things. My wife things I am cheap (I am!) and find that almost every detergent product can be diluted without much impact.
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