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Solvent? Is that like thinners? Can I use thinners to clean my chain??

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Solvent? Is that like thinners? Can I use thinners to clean my chain??

Old 10-05-11, 10:40 AM
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thaicook
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Solvent? Is that like thinners? Can I use thinners to clean my chain??

Yes, as the title suggests, I've been watching online vids with advice on cleaning bikes. Chains in particular.

One bloke was using solvent to clean his chain, it was doing a fantastic job, and as cleaning solutions are either labelled in Thai or missing from the shelves altogether here in Bangkok, I assumed solvent is AKA thinners, is this correct?
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Old 10-05-11, 10:51 AM
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FastJake
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I have used mineral spirits and paint thinner to clean chains. To my knowledge, both have worked exactly the same. I believe both of these are solvents so I think you should be fine.

When I shop, paint thinner is always cheaper than mineral spirits.
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Old 10-05-11, 11:22 AM
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I've used paint thinner as my solvent for years. Gasoline works better, but is way too dangerous to use. Don't. I've seen the aftermath of an explosion caused by using gas as a cleaning solvent. The bodies had been removed beforehand.

Paint thinner is slow to catch on fire, and can be re-used by letting the solids settle out. Evaporates slowly too. A gallon can should last a while.
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Old 10-05-11, 11:26 AM
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I would avoid hash solvents like paint thinner remover these can dry out chains causing them to rust quickly. For occasionaly cleaning lubing chains WD-40 is what most people use you can buy chain specific oils cleaners but these cost a lot more and don't realy work any better.
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Old 10-05-11, 01:24 PM
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There's a lot of information in this forum on cleaning and lubing chains. The question comes up a lot more than you'd think!

Opinion is divided, but generally WD-40 is not recommended for chains.

"Solvent" is a general term, but when people use it they usually mean things like acetone, paint thinner, denatured alcohol, etc.

For what it's worth, I use something called "orange solvent" or "citrus solvent", mixed with water. It's less toxic, smells better, and works fine.

Whatever solvent you use can be saved. The solids will fall to the bottom if you let it sit, and the stuff on top poured into a different container and re-used.

You must thoroughly lubricate the chain after cleaning or it will rust.
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Old 10-05-11, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by zukahn1 View Post
I would avoid hash solvents like paint thinner remover these can dry out chains causing them to rust quickly. For occasionaly cleaning lubing chains WD-40 is what most people use you can buy chain specific oils cleaners but these cost a lot more and don't realy work any better.
Only if you don't relube the chain afterwards.
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Old 10-05-11, 04:57 PM
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Thaicook, the thinners you want to use is the stuff used for thinning down oil base house paint.

Don't worry about it rusting your chain. As long as you re-oil it after the cleaning it'll stay as good as ever.
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Old 10-05-11, 05:32 PM
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"Paint thinner" or mineral spirits are very good solvents to use for cleaning your chain and other drive train components. If in contact with the frame there should be no damage.

Do not use acetone or "lacquer thinner", much too strong and could possibly remove or damage paint.
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Old 10-05-11, 05:54 PM
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Do yourself a favor. By a box of disposable vinyl or latex gloves (available at most drug stores) and wear them whenever you're going to be in contact with whatever solvent you use. Most all effective solvents are readily absorbed through the skin, accummulate in the body over time, and have thoroughly unpleasant toxic effects.
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Old 10-05-11, 07:28 PM
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As others have posted, paint thinner or mineral spirits work well for cleaning a chain. They won't "dry it out", but they will clean out a lot of the old, gunked-up lube that's more lapping compound than lube after a while.

And don't use WD-40 on a chain. "WD" stand for "water displacement". WD-40 is NOT a lube. Use a real lube.
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Old 10-05-11, 08:41 PM
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+1 On gloves. I use nitrile gloves, they tend to have better chemical resistance, and many people have allergies to latex.

Well, I just looked up a chart on chemical resistance, latex is better for some chemicals, nitrile is better on other chemicals. So you decide.


You can buy a box of 100 nitrile gloves at Harbor Freight on sale for about $6. Latex gloves are about the same price.

All the cleaners, grease, oil, etc., do a number on your hands. I adopted the use of gloves a little late. Start now.

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Old 10-06-11, 12:06 AM
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With paint thinner nitrile is the glove of choice. Mineral spirits will eat latex quickly.
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Old 10-06-11, 12:28 AM
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White Spirit (as we call it here in the UK) or Mineral Spirits (as it's called in the USA) is widely used in the engineering industry as a cleaner / degreaser. More info here... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_spirit

It works really well but needs to be handled with some care. It will degrease your skin just as effectively as it will degrease a chain. There are Safety Data Sheets readily available online. I'd try to avoid getting it onto any rubber parts, it will perish them.
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Old 10-06-11, 02:51 AM
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Originally Posted by achoo View Post
And don't use WD-40 on a chain. "WD" stand for "water displacement". WD-40 is NOT a lube. Use a real lube.
WD-40 does contain a lubricant and can be used for it. Although there are better specific lubricants, if it's all you've got you don't HAVE to rush out and get one before riding.

EDIT:
Originally Posted by https://www.wd40.com/faqs/
What about using WD-40 on my sports equipment?
...
Use WD-40 on your bike to clean, degrease and lubricate your chain, derailleur, gears, cogs, and moving parts.
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Old 10-06-11, 11:35 AM
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aahh... the misinformation is strong in this thread. WD-40 is a water displacer, and a degreaser/degrimer. It works very very well for CLEANING your chain, chainrings, and cassettes (not lubing). Once everything is sparkling clean using WD-40, you then need to lube everything properly with an appropriate, dedicated lube or grease. Does WD40 work as a lubricant in a pinch? yes... but that shouldn't be it's primary purpose... its a cleaner.
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Old 10-06-11, 11:11 PM
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thaicook
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Just wrote a long reply but lost it

Will reply later when cold has gone.

Thanks for all your replies again though!
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Old 10-07-11, 06:03 AM
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I guess this is available nationwide, but for a chain and parts cleaner/degreaser I use a product called Totally Awesome. It is non flammable and cheap as dirt. I buy it from the local Dollar Tree in spray bottles or larger refills and they are both $1 each. I have a small bench-top parts washer that I use the same cleaner in and it works great. Here in the South, as well as Dollar Tree, it is available at Dollar General as well but I think they charge $3 for the refill size.
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