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Ecotech vs Simple Green vs Orange

Old 05-31-22, 02:08 PM
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Ecotech vs Simple Green vs Orange

I like to occasionally remove the drivetrain and soak it to give it a good clean. I'm wondering what I should soak it in? The past few times, I used Finish Line Ecotech Bike Degreaser. While it works well, it is expensive. Would something that isn't bike specific work as well or even nearly as well? Specifically, I was wondering about Simple Green or Orange degreaser? I'm also open to other suggestions. Thanks
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Old 05-31-22, 04:58 PM
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Mineral spirits.

Pour it in a pan and clean your stuff in it. You can use the mineral spirits over and over and over. Just let it sit in the pan or pour it in another container. After a day or so the crud will settle out and you can decant it for re-use later.
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Old 05-31-22, 05:13 PM
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^^^^ +1 and it's probably less polluting as well since you can just wipe up the leftover gunk at the bottom of the container with a rag and toss it into the trash. Simple Green, etc., usually gets dumped in the drain or garden or has to be recycled....an energy sucking process. Odorless Mineral Spirits also does a much better job of dissolving grease and gunk.
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Old 05-31-22, 08:38 PM
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Mineral spirits for me too. Does a great job of dissolving gunk, and then I just collect it in a jar to use again.
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Old 05-31-22, 08:50 PM
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Another vote for OMS (odorless mineral spirits) or Kerosine. They do and excellent job of cutting grease and dirt and don't leave trapped water that can cause problems if it isn't thoroughly dried. As noted they can be allowed to settle or filtered to remove the dirt and reused.
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Old 06-01-22, 06:08 PM
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Two more thoughts on this:
1. You should never soak steel in the common Simple Green for long periods of time. More an issue with nicer steel bits like chains, higher grades fasteners, etc.
2. As specified previously, common odorless mineral spirits. At some point I made the mistake of getting some not quite equivalent billed as eco friendly. It did smell less (odorless is not exactly as advertised), but the things I used in it never settled out, so I couldnít eternally reuse it like OMS.
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Old 06-01-22, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by AMoney View Post
...Would something that isn't bike specific work as well or even nearly as well? Specifically, I was wondering about Simple Green or Orange degreaser? I'm also open to other suggestions. Thanks
Yes, bicycle specific products are usually priced higher and often not necessary, with the exception of chain lube. For example, bicycle specific greases are overpriced and many seem to use marine grease (many, many threads on "best grease"). Likewise, bicycle cartridge bearings are just standard commercial bearings you can purchase at industrial supply sources - no need to go back to the component manufacturer.

Like the above said, I soak my chain in mineral spirits or paint thinner, in a closed jar. And I'll settle out the gunk in a second jar, I label "settling jar".

However, for the cassette, chainrings, pulley wheels, derailleurs.... I'll use a water soluble product like Simple Green or Orange _____, or Purple _____. I place the items into a flat plastic tub, pour product into pan (and will usually dilute with water) and let it soak and I'll use a stiff brush to scrub away the gunk. Then rinse with water. I personally don't like the scent of Simple Green - it has a sickingly sweet smell to me, so I prefer Orange _____. This method really cleans up the parts and my hands don't smell of petroleum solvent and I'm not awash in solvent fumes.
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Old 06-02-22, 11:23 AM
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Chemist here... Water-based solutions are inherently poor at degreasing. Chemistry 101. Mineral spirits (a petroleum cut) are relatively good compromise in terms of degreasing effectiveness, toxicity and environmental harm.

With mineral spirits, the gunk to be removed settles at the bottom of your container, for filtration and eventual dry disposal. Mineral spirits evaporate into the air; a few days exposed to UV rays will break them down to CO2 and water. With water-based degreasers, it takes a much larger volume of degreaser, and a lot longer for the evaporation to occur, so what I've seen happen is mechanics dump the slurry mess down the drain, a far worse outcome.

As stated above, do not leave any bike products in water-based degreasers. They will rust, the process accelerated by the chemicals added to the water. I have left bike parts (chains, cassette cogs, derailleur parts) for months (forgot about them) in mineral spirits with zero adverse effects.
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Old 06-02-22, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
Chemist here... Water-based solutions are inherently poor at degreasing.
OK. How about water based solvents heated up over a stove? Does that beat mineral spirits or other solvents?
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Old 06-02-22, 02:48 PM
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We have a water based heated degreasing tank at the shop. It replaced the Safety Clean solvent based one recently (and the SC tank was identical to what I use at home). For some things the water based and heated tank does a great job. Like fairly flat and smooth parts (like rings, cogs bearing cups and cones. But for parts with insides, like a chain, it does a poor job. We've even been over oiling the chain and working that in prior to removing the chain and cleaning it (in an attempt to soften and spread the inside grime before the tank's stuff tries to do its job). Most all the mechanics preferred the solvent based tank by far too. But SC (motivated by recent NYS law changes) won't support the solvent tanks here so we had to try a more expensive, more labor intensive (both in the actual cleaning of parts and the maintenance of the fluid on a monthly basis) method to clean the many parts we do.

If I had no home tank (and when it's solvent is used up...) I would use OMS and a few jugs/bins to clean in and let sit to settle out the gunk. I have friends who have done this for decades and thet get a lot of cleaning out of a gallon of ODS if they allow the dirty stuff to sit then drain off the clean ODS.

Having said that for spot cleaning I use either WD40 (which, for the most part, is ODS thinned down) or White Lighting Clean Streak. Very rarely do I reach for the lacquer thinner. Andy

I should add that the water based tank at work uses a bio agent to "eat away" the dissolved grime and needs to be kept at a warm tap water temp 24/7. It is very nice on the skin and I have taken to using it to wash my hands before a hot tap water rinse off.
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Old 06-03-22, 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by icemilkcoffee View Post
OK. How about water based solvents heated up over a stove? Does that beat mineral spirits or other solvents?
Solubility - Wikipedia

Summary: 'like dissolves like'. Non-polar molecules (hydrocarbons such as grease and oils) have minimal solubility in strongly polar solutions such as water. Heating up a solvent will somewhat increase solubility. But the caustic chemicals added to the water-based products will also become more active at higher temperatures, causing corrosive damage in less time.
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Old 06-03-22, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by MudPie View Post
Yes, bicycle specific products are usually priced higher and often not necessary
They're fine for DIY, but with the amount of bikes I wrench on each season, gasoline is my fastest cleaner.

It's understandable how many folks are scared of heptanes, but it's not acid. Just keep it outdoors, wear disposable work gloves.

It won't harm plastics of jockey wheels, spoke protector, derailleur housings, if all I'm doing is just wiping them.

Brushing cassettes with gasoline is easy and safe, it's easy to avoid hubs and axles on removed wheelsets.

Smaller parts like chains, bearings, are soaked in the glass jar where I store used gas. That gas can be pitch black and it'll still clean.

I rarely use it on frames, but great to use to wipe under the bottom bracket.

Once a bike is done with gasoline, then it's a final rinse with my favorite degreaser soap and pressure washer.

Haters will surely opt for greener cleaners. I've tried them all. They are expensive, slow to work, and I'm often doing it thrice. Time I don't have when I have to get so many bikes retail ready for a fast turnover.
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Old 06-03-22, 12:08 PM
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Yeah, gasoline is a better degreaser than mineral spirits. Somewhat more flammable - responsible adult precautions apply.

My go-to solvent for really tough jobs is white gas, otherwise marketed as 'camp fuel'. Very volatile and flammable, but in small quantities, using sensible precautions, it easily handles the worst jobs such as removing road tar, decals, decades old-caked on grease etc.

As far as eco-benefits, I find the water-based degreasers, since they are so poor at actually degreasing, require multiple applications in large volumes, and this mess ends down in the drain. Since these products depend more on the user rubbing and scraping, as opposed to the solvent actually doing the work, this requires quantities of rags, which are then discarded. Plus the large volume of water and detergents for hand cleaning. Net result: not very eco at all.

But products labelled 'eco' or 'green' help salve to eco-guilt in the first world - I guess. Bike-specific products are worse: rebranded standard industrial products sold in tiny containers at huge markups.
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Old 06-03-22, 12:28 PM
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These threads never reach their full potential until someone mentions that they use gasoline.
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Old 06-03-22, 12:41 PM
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I did the gasoline thing too when young and stupid. Up until the day I was cleaning some parts in gasoline out at the front of the garage. The invisible fumes of the gasoline on that calm day traveled over 20 feet to the rear of the garage and ignited from the water heater there.

Very sobering to see a flame running toward me like a well defined river across my garage floor. Thankfully all I had to do was cover the pan with a board to smother the fire and there wasn't the big flash explosion from the fumes that it could have been.

I've never used gasoline since for cleaning parts. Too volatile and too low a vapor pressure or something to that effect.
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Old 06-04-22, 02:39 AM
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I also used gasoline a kid. Of course itís a flammability risk and leaves your hand smelling awful if you get any on them.
For those that still want to use it, consider that diesel works similarly to gasoline and has a substantially lower fire risk. This applies to kerosene as well, but itís not as easy to come by like it used to be. Of course at that point youíre heading toward white gas. That wonít smell as funny long term, but youíre halfway back to gasoline as far as flammability risks go.
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Old 06-06-22, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by MudPie View Post
Yes, bicycle specific products are usually priced higher and often not necessary, with the exception of chain lube. For example, bicycle specific greases are overpriced and many seem to use marine grease (many, many threads on "best grease"). Likewise, bicycle cartridge bearings are just standard commercial bearings you can purchase at industrial supply sources - no need to go back to the component manufacturer.

Like the above said, I soak my chain in mineral spirits or paint thinner, in a closed jar. And I'll settle out the gunk in a second jar, I label "settling jar".

However, for the cassette, chainrings, pulley wheels, derailleurs.... I'll use a water soluble product like Simple Green or Orange _____, or Purple _____. I place the items into a flat plastic tub, pour product into pan (and will usually dilute with water) and let it soak and I'll use a stiff brush to scrub away the gunk. Then rinse with water. I personally don't like the scent of Simple Green - it has a sickingly sweet smell to me, so I prefer Orange _____. This method really cleans up the parts and my hands don't smell of petroleum solvent and I'm not awash in solvent fumes.
Why would you put the chain in mineral spirits but not the other drivetrain components?
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Old 06-06-22, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by AMoney View Post
Why would you put the chain in mineral spirits but not the other drivetrain components?
There is some logic to my madness, so here goes:

1. I soak the chain in a glass jar (with lid) with mineral spirits because

1a) the mineral spirits do a better job of removing oil based gunk without mechanical scrubbing, no doubt about that. The mineral spirits gets into all the nooks and crannies of the 100's of moving parts and sliding surfaces. I soak the chain and agitate the container and that is sufficient to clean the chain.

1b) I fish the chain out of the jar with a tool, thus minimal exposure of the solvent on my hands ( I don't like the smell on my hands).

2. I use a water based detergent on the other parts because

2a) I realize I need to scrub these parts with a stiff brush using a water based detergent. There are fewer moving parts and no need to worry about tightly fitting surfaces (compared to the chain).

2b) I do this in a flat plastic tub. The parts are larger than a coiled chain, so if I were to soak in a mineral spirits, I'd need a larger container and require the use of more solvent. I don't soak these parts but use enough solution to just wet the surfaces. I used to have some diluted detergent in a spray bottle and I'd just spray to wet, then scrub away.

Anyway that's my story!
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Old 06-13-22, 12:13 PM
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For those of you that use mineral spirits, do you dilute it with water? If so, what would be the ratio of mineral spirits to water?
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Old 06-13-22, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by AMoney View Post
For those of you that use mineral spirits, do you dilute it with water? If so, what would be the ratio of mineral spirits to water?
No, no, no. Water does nothing good and everything bad when mixing with OMS. Use it straight as a solvent
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Old 06-13-22, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by AMoney View Post
For those of you that use mineral spirits, do you dilute it with water? If so, what would be the ratio of mineral spirits to water?
Huh?
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Old 06-14-22, 12:38 PM
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Having a chemistry degree, I find it frustrating that the discussion keeps circling back to water and water-based 'degreasers' as a solution. Including the inexplicable suggestion to mix a somewhat effective degreaser (mineral spirits) with water. So here is the bottom line: water has no place in cleaning a bike or any part of a bike. It is an ineffective degreaser, no matter what it is mixed with (detergents, acids, whatever). Water only enables corrosion, and when it gets inside your bike due to wet riding, or misguided cleaning attempts, it will eat expensive moving parts from the inside out.

The only time to use water on a bike is on a rag to take mud off of the frame. You do not want to use flowing water or far worse: pressurized water, as you will only blow critical grease out of your bottom bracket, hubs, headset etc. You definitely do not want water inside your shifters or electronics.

There is no place for water-based degreasers anywhere on a bike, such as cleaning chains, as they are ineffective, and contain corrosive chemicals that will eat the parts. As advised multiple times above, (100%) mineral spirits are far better products, in terms of the chemistry, and environmental protection.
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