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Recomended to use Dawn dish soap to clean chain. Is this "okay"?

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Recomended to use Dawn dish soap to clean chain. Is this "okay"?

Old 07-15-14, 08:38 AM
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volosong
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Recomended to use Dawn dish soap to clean chain. Is this "okay"?

I stopped at a one of my favorite LBS that is pretty far from my home and I get my tubes. While there, I asked the shop rep about the chain lube I was using. I've been using White Lightening for about a year, and lamented to him that I can only get about 150 miles out of a lube application before the chain starts getting really loud and irritating. I went on to explain my chain cleaning methodology and he then told me the method he uses.

He says that he squirts some Dawn soap onto a damp rag and then runs the chain through the rag (while the chain is on the bike). He says that this cleans the outside of the chain while keeping the wax build-up on the interior links. Then he uses his chain lube, one drop on each link.

My question to the mechanic experts here is: Is it "okay" to use Dawn to clean the outside of the chain like he does?

(I'll be changing the way I used to clean my drive train. In the past, I removed the chain, disassembled the cassette and chainrings, clean everything in a mild solvent with a toothbrush, reassemble and re-lube. It's 'nice and clean', but I now see how I never get any wax build-up from lube to lube. The solvent strips it all away.)
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Old 07-15-14, 08:59 AM
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Soap and water are fine. You could even submerge your chain in the sink if you wanted to. As long asy you dry it well and lube it after.

Your problem is the lube itself. The wax is pushed away from friction points (like all lubes) but never returns, because it's wax, not liquid. You ever notice the wax build up is always .25 mm away from where things make contact and rub? Worthless. My 2 cents.

BTW, your previous drive train cleaning procedure was excellent. Don't abandon it.

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Old 07-15-14, 09:01 AM
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The best chain life I've heard of comes from people who don't clean everything as deeply as you've described. All that manipulation runs the risk not only of stripping lubricant from the interior of the chain, but of driving grit further into the chain. That'll kill the chain life quicker than running a dirty chain.

Disclaimer: if you're riding 'cross or dirt, it's a good idea to rinse the mud off. If you can get it off with a gentle spray of water after Dawn, that's OK; it's better than a hard spray that blows 90% of the mud off, and the other 10% gets blow into the chain.
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Old 07-15-14, 09:12 AM
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I wouldn't leave soap on the chain without a rinse. If it gets wet you'll start washing off your lube. I also believe Dawn would work better on liquid oils rather than waxes especially with just a wipe. The main effect it would have on a chain lubed with White Lightning would seem to be where the friction would actively mix it with the wax, right where you need it the most.

Solvent might be safer than soap for the environment because you don't have a lot of dirty water to throw away. You can reuse your used solvent by letting the dirt settle out and when it's too dirty you can take it to a recycling center or burn it.
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Old 07-15-14, 09:25 AM
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It is safe but it's a degreaser and I tend to keep those away from anything parts that need lube unless I am doing a complete overhaul on that part. For my chains, I do the wiping after lubing each roller. My process is one fat drop on the underside (inside of chain) of each roller then pinch the chain between a paper towel and spin to clean the side plates. I clean the jockey wheels with chain lube and a paper towel. I never remove the chain until I replace it. I replace my road bike chain each spring anyway and do not to care what mileage I get. For my offroad bikes, I use the same chain forever and only lube them when I hear them start to squeak.
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Old 07-15-14, 09:37 AM
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They seem to like it, if they are your Experts ..

I 1)dont use white-lightning chain lube and 2) on the outside I just use a rag, and wipe off the dirt off
and excess chain lube ..
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Old 07-15-14, 09:40 AM
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Original Blue Dawn . . . It?s Not Just for Dishes Anymore | One Good Thing by Jillee
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Old 07-15-14, 09:59 AM
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There are chain lubes that are known for lasting longer. I use Chain-L. Even in winter - constant rain and wet grit - I get 500+ miles before my chain starts getting noisy.
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Old 07-15-14, 10:02 AM
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for the OP - how often do you do that extensive cleaning with solvent?
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Old 07-15-14, 10:34 AM
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There's more than one way to skin a cat, and likewise to clean a chain. Everyone has his own "best" way, and whatever works for you is fine.

The key elements of a good method are

1- the solvent or cleaner used have to be able to cut and remove the old lube/dirt mix and float it away. So the right cleaning fluid depends on the lube used.
2- if you wash lube form within the chain, you have to replace it.
3- if you get solvent or detergent/water in to the chain and wash out the lube, you MUST make sure the solvent or cleaning product are rinsed, and/or flushed out, and the chain is truly dry and free of cleaner before relubing.

I treating washing chains as I do washing my cat. I only do it when absolutely necessary, and then do it carefully.
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Old 07-15-14, 11:19 AM
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had a girlfriend once that helped me pick a stray cat (just older than kitten age) from the shelter for my Mom's B-day. when we got back to our apt she took a towel, draped it over her shoulder and held the cat on that and took it into the shower. I was amazed at how easily the thorough washing was accomplished. just thought I'd share that one ...
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Old 07-15-14, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
had a girlfriend once that helped me pick a stray cat (just older than kitten age) from the shelter for my Mom's B-day. when we got back to our apt she took a towel, draped it over her shoulder and held the cat on that and took it into the shower. I was amazed at how easily the thorough washing was accomplished. just thought I'd share that one ...
Kittens are easy. If she tried that stunt with my 12# cat, the only positive result would be that the shower rinsed all the blood down the drain.
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Old 07-15-14, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
for the OP - how often do you do that extensive cleaning with solvent?
About three or four times a year. Usually when the chain gets some of that dark, greasy build-up on the cassette sprockets. The build-up isn't all that much, but looks yucky to me. And, I hate fingering a dirty chain. Screws up the gloves and the white cloth bar tape. It takes a couple of hours, and an overnight to let stuff dry. I take my time and use a small, metal pan for the solvent and an old toothbrush.

p.s. For the first time in my live, I've been considering getting a tattoo. It would be on the inside of my right calf and wold be a semi-circle of little triangular shapes. Exactly like what we get when we brush our calfs against a dirty chainring. But, I survived my Navy years without getting a tattoo and at 63, I'm probably too "old" to get one now.

- - - - -

p.s. Thanks all for the info. I realize that this is an emotional, and oft discussed topic. I appreciate everyone's thoughts.

Last edited by volosong; 07-15-14 at 01:06 PM.
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Old 07-15-14, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by volosong View Post
About three or four times a year. Usually when the chain gets some of that dark, greasy build-up on the cassette sprockets. The build-up isn't all that much, but looks yucky to me. And, I hate fingering a dirty chain. Screws up the gloves and the white cloth bar tape. It takes a couple of hours, and an overnight to let stuff dry. I take my time and use a small, metal pan for the solvent and an old toothbrush.

p.s. For the first time in my live, I've been considering getting a tattoo. It would be on the inside of my right calf and wold be a semi-circle of little triangular shapes. Exactly like what we get when we brush our calfs against a dirty chainring. But, I survived my Navy years without getting a tattoo and at 63, I'm probably too "old" to get one now.

- - - - -

p.s. Thanks all for the info. I realize that this is an emotional, and oft discussed topic. I appreciate everyone's thoughts.
If you are a single person you could put your chain and cassette in the dishwasher with your favorite detergent. But if you are married you could wind up worse off than you would be with FB's cat in the shower.
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Old 07-15-14, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Al1943 View Post
If you are a single person you could put your chain and cassette in the dishwasher with your favorite detergent. But if you are married you could wind up worse off than you would be with FB's cat in the shower.

Best word picture of the day.
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Old 07-15-14, 01:47 PM
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Why clean the chain? I thought you had to have those black chain marks on your legs to look like a pro
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Old 07-15-14, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by spdracr39 View Post
Why clean the chain? I thought you had to have those black chain marks on your legs to look like a pro
Hence the thought of getting a tattoo that looks like a chainring mark.
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Old 07-15-14, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by spdracr39 View Post
Why clean the chain? I thought you had to have those black chain marks on your legs to look like a pro
Originally Posted by volosong View Post
Hence the thought of getting a tattoo that looks like a chainring mark.

Ooooohh, a Cat 5 tattoo.
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Old 07-15-14, 02:19 PM
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when I was in my teens I ruined one of my Moms pots by boiling my chain in cooking oil. I think it worked great on the chain though
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Old 07-15-14, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
when I was in my teens I ruined one of my Moms pots by boiling my chain in cooking oil. I think it worked great on the chain though

Was the oil still OK for fried chicken?
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Old 07-15-14, 03:26 PM
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The only proper to clean a chain is off of the bike. I use an ultrasonic cleaner and Simple Green. Dawn should do a good job. if the chain is off of the bike. Chain care, wear and skipping by Jobst Brandt
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