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Clean a chain with Simple Green?

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Clean a chain with Simple Green?

Old 03-13-09, 05:54 PM
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roadrider65
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Clean a chain with Simple Green?

Arghh. One local pro bike tech says use Simple Green to clean my chain. Another local pro bike tech says don't ever use Simple Green. What's a newbie to do? Who do you believe?
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Old 03-13-09, 05:59 PM
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if the search was working, you'd get a ton of threads just about this.
to sum it up: not good, causes metal to become brittle and crack.
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Old 03-13-09, 06:08 PM
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to AEO: Thanks. You've made me think: If somebody says "Don't" you probably shouldn't. If somebody says "It fine" he/she may be dumber than you are.
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Old 03-13-09, 06:09 PM
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So sorry. That didn't come out right: I meant ...
to AEO: Thanks. You've made me think: If somebody says "Don't" you probably shouldn't.
If somebody says "It's fine" he/she may be dumber than I am.
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Old 03-13-09, 06:12 PM
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I'm pretty happy with the advice of my local mechanic. He uses WD-40. I feel like the spray forces most of junk out of the chain, and you don't even have to remove it. He said to give it overnight to completely dry though. Then lube with some good chain lube (not WD-40!).
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Old 03-13-09, 06:48 PM
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Simple green is fine. This has been discussed ad nauseam before. The reason that some will shy away from it is that it has been reported to be a problem if not rinsed thoroughly or there was the one idiot who soaked his chain for six months in a jar of simple green then complained about the result. I have used it for years without any ill effects. It is a good all purpose cleaner and degreaser that is safe for the environment as a bonus.

As a caveat, I have just learned about a cleaner from MSC direct called Natures Solution that is supposed to be even better.
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Old 03-13-09, 07:14 PM
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Simple Green works fine, though I like citrus degreaser better.
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Old 03-13-09, 09:09 PM
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I spray a little Simple Green onto a rag then run the chain through the rag.
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Old 03-13-09, 09:28 PM
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Simple green will make the link brittle if you leave it on. If you do use it, be sure to clean the chain really good with water. So essentially you are cleaning it twice.

I personally like Rock-N-Roll Miracle Red biodegreaser. Dilute it 2:1 and get it on the chain. Let it sit for a few minutes and wipe it clean. repeat as necessary.
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Old 03-13-09, 09:30 PM
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I've been using SG on chains for 10 years, no problems. Of course, too much of a good thing is a bad thing - thoroughly rinse it from the chain and then lube as you do w/ anything else.
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Old 03-14-09, 09:28 AM
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I prefer a good solvent like mineral spirits, kerosene or diesel fuel. Any of these can be reused many times. Return used solvent to an old water bottle to let the dirt settle to the bottom. Pour off the top into another bottle to use again, When it comes time to toss it, I mix it in with used motor oil for recycling.

After an initial solvent degreasing, I place my chain in another bottle full of hot soapy water for a second washing, followed by a hot water rinse. I dry the chain with a paper towel, then apply homebrew lube to displace the water and lube.

If you don't want to use any water, then at least two separate solvent cleanings are needed. The first will leave the chain swimming in dirty solvent.

Last edited by DaveSSS; 03-14-09 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 03-14-09, 09:59 AM
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My rule is no water to clean oily or greasy bits. That leaves mineral spirits or WD-40 as the solvents of choice. Then all that is left to do is wipe and lube with no time wasted drying or worries of corrosion.

Now, for the greenies: How do you dispose of the rinse water when you use water based solvents?

I dispose of my petroleum based solvents with my motor oil at the local disposal facility.
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Old 03-14-09, 09:59 AM
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I use Simple Green and a brush. Rinse it, wipe of excess water and then leave it a few hours/overnight in a jar of WD-40. The next day I let the extra WD-40 drip off, then wipe it and apply chain lube as usual. Has been working great for me.
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Old 03-14-09, 10:57 AM
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I have a conceptual problem with using water and water based cleaners on chains. Water is just the wrong thing. Instead, I use Pro Link lube which cleans out easily with a small amount of Brake Klean on a towel. If you do it regularly, the chain does not have to come off the bike. This does not work on dirty chains from riding in dirt/mud. bk
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Old 03-14-09, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by bkaapcke View Post
I have a conceptual problem with using water and water based cleaners on chains. Water is just the wrong thing. Instead, I use Pro Link lube which cleans out easily with a small amount of Brake Klean on a towel. If you do it regularly, the chain does not have to come off the bike. This does not work on dirty chains from riding in dirt/mud. bk
A small amount of solvent on a towel would only clean the exterior of the chain. Simple wiping with a dry paper shop towel would do the same thing, but neither would help to improve chain life by removing dirt from the critical wear areas. The areas that need claning are inside the roller and between the pin and it's bushing.
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Old 03-14-09, 12:01 PM
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It cleans inside the rollers really well. Soak a 4" spot on a nappy towel, grip the chain firmly enough to spin the rollers, and rotate it. Do it until you hardly have any solvent left. Maybe a second time if the chain is fairly dirty. Then several times with dry parts of the towel. With solvent on Pro Link, it spins it right out of there. You can see the gunk diminish on the towel as you keep doing it.

It's quick and easy, so doing it regularly is a breeze. Not letting your chain get totally groadie is what makes it work. bk
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Old 03-14-09, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by roadrider65 View Post
So sorry. That didn't come out right: I meant ...
to AEO: Thanks. You've made me think: If somebody says "Don't" you probably shouldn't.
If somebody says "It's fine" he/she may be dumber than I am.
You're new to the internet, huh? I mean some anonymous poster tells you Simple Green will result in the destruction of metal objects and you take it as gospel? Seriously, learn how to use Google and do some research before jumping to a conclusion.

Simple Green may be unsuitable for raw, unfinished aluminum surfaces, if the product is left in contact with it for an extended period of time. Hardly a ticking time bomb. And last time I check, chains weren't made of aluminum.

And you see that link beneath your post that says [edit]?
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Old 03-14-09, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by roadrider65 View Post
Arghh. One local pro bike tech says use Simple Green to clean my chain. Another local pro bike tech says don't ever use Simple Green. What's a newbie to do? Who do you believe?
Neither, never solvent clean your chain.

Wipe the chain with a rag after every use. Every few rides (3-10) use a small amount of oil, let it soak over night, wipe excess off at next ride.
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Old 03-14-09, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by bkaapcke View Post
It cleans inside the rollers really well. Soak a 4" spot on a nappy towel, grip the chain firmly enough to spin the rollers, and rotate it. Do it until you hardly have any solvent left. Maybe a second time if the chain is fairly dirty. Then several times with dry parts of the towel. With solvent on Pro Link, it spins it right out of there. You can see the gunk diminish on the towel as you keep doing it.

It's quick and easy, so doing it regularly is a breeze. Not letting your chain get totally groadie is what makes it work. bk
Sorry, but you're really wrong about that. Even spraying on WD-40 or brushing on mineral spirits does a very poor job of cleaning into the wear areas. Twist the chain after your cleaning and it will still sound gritty, because it is. The only on-the-bike cleaning that does much requires at least two applications of a chain cleaner device or several heavy applications of a solvent, brushed or sprayed on.

A better way to use the aerosal brake cleaner is to hold a towel under the lower section of chain and spray it with the spray head held very close to the chain. Then the towel is just used to catch the excess solvent and dirt. That's MUCH better than wiping the chain with a solvent wetted rag.

Last edited by DaveSSS; 03-14-09 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 03-14-09, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
Simple Green works fine, though I like citrus degreaser better.
+1
Citrus cleaner on all-metal components; Simple Green on components that have plastic or rubber parts.
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Old 03-14-09, 05:31 PM
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Dave, have you tried it, and how often do you clean your chain? bk

Last edited by bkaapcke; 03-14-09 at 06:10 PM.
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Old 03-14-09, 05:40 PM
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I've been using Simple Green for four years. I cut it 50/50 with water and clean all my chains off the bike in an ultrasound. I've had only one chain that may be wearing prematurely, the one I did not use Simple Green to clean it. Simple Green doesn't attack chains. I've left aluminum parts in the bath for 24 hours, NEVER had a problem. I soaked an 8 speed Ultegra brifter that was not shifting correctly for 24 hours. I rode that brifter for an entire season without an issue, and this year that 8 speed is going on another bike.
I don't know where the concept started that Simple Green attacks steel, aluminum, rubber, plastic and other bike materials, and I've yet to see it attack paint or metal surfaces. I had one instance where I soaked a chain from a vintage bike in Simple Green overnight and it removed the bluing on the surface of the chain. That's the extent of the "damage" I've encountered.
I take one precaution, I rinse off the Simple Green thoroughly after cleaning.
How did I find out about Simple Green? The local LBS uses it.
(Granted, I haven't tried soaking carbon fiber yet.)
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Old 03-14-09, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by mmmdonuts View Post
Now, for the greenies: How do you dispose of the rinse water when you use water based solvents?
It's biodegradable. I pour it on my lawn or garden.
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Old 03-14-09, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by AEO View Post
if the search was working, you'd get a ton of threads just about this.
to sum it up: not good, causes metal to become brittle and crack.
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Old 03-14-09, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by roccobike View Post
I cut it 50/50 with water and clean all my chains off the bike in an ultrasound.
I'm intrigued. I've considered buying an ultrasonic cleaner but have been put off by the prices.
I'd like to get one large enough to hold chainrings, but the ones that large cost an arm and a leg.

So how well does it work, and how long does it take?
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