How to clean your bike for apartment dwellers

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I live in an apartment with my partner and eight bikes. The most annoying thing about living in my apartment complex is that there is no communal area outside that I can use to wash my bike – no hose, no workstand, NOTHING! So I am often asked how I clean my bike. The answer is simple: I wash my bike in the shower.

I’m very particular about keeping my bike clean, so not having an outside area available to me, I learned to adapt and make do with what I’ve got. I don’t have any fancy tools either, nor a bikestand. I just use tools and cleaning products that are easily available to me, mostly purchased from the supermarket.

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Some must have items are:
– Brush and tooth brush
– Rag or microfibre cloth – these are washable and reusable.
– Natural surface spray and natural dishwashing liquid. Natural ones aren’t harsh on your bike, they’re cheap and do a good job of cleaning the grease off your running gear.
– Mr Sheen – this adds the professional finish, a sparkle and shine

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With the above items, follow these steps:

  1. Give your bike a brush down outside before you put it in the shower. This will remove any excess dirt that will making the clean job harder than necessary and avoid the dirt turning to mud when you rinse your bike.
  2. Take both your wheels off then rest your bike on the chock/floor of the shower. Squirt some detergent onto your cloth and get scrubbing. My shower has a flexi shower head, which makes it easy to get water where I want it. If you have a regular showerhead, turn it on and jump out of the way!
  3. Use the brushes to scrub the cassette and wheel jockeys using the detergent. The toothbrush is useful for scrubbing around the brake callipers.
  4. Rinse the detergent off your bike. Then use a fresh rag or cloth to dry it down a little. This will prevent too much drip as you carry your bike into the lounge room for polishing.
  5. First, put a mat down on your lounge room floor to protect your carpet. Then take your bike, flip it upside down and start polishing. Use the Mr Sheen spray to add an extra level of shine! Then, put the the wheels back on and lube your chain.
  6. Presto, you’re done. Bike is clean as a whistle!
  7. Once this is all done, pack up your mats and give your shower a good scrub to make sure that you don’t stain anything! Keep in mind that if you are renting, you need to be extra cautious of any potential damage you are causing to the property. That’s why I use a rubber mat and a wheel chock to prop up the chain rings (like what you put under your front wheel on the trainer) to protect the tiles in the shower. Same goes for if you are using the bath to clean your bike, make sure that you don’t scratch the enamel. You can buy non-slip rubber mats from most hardware stores, which are great to use as tile protection.

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If bikes aren’t allowed in the shower, there are some other pro tips that work just as well:

  • Use a large insecticide sprayer with a hand pump as a hose and water source. You would have to do this outside because it would get very splashy – it is really just like using a hose. 
  • You can always do a dry wash. This involves using the surface spray and a wet rag to wipe down your bike, then an express polish using the Mr Sheen. This will not get 100 percent of the grime, but it will do a pretty good job. 
  • Go to the carwash. This is a great solution on your way home from a muddy CX or MTB event. But be careful not to spray on full pressure and avoid spraying you bottom bracket.

What are your tips for cleaning your bike in an apartment?


About the author

The tagline to Verita Stewart’s personal blog reads: “Not a professional cyclist, yet” and it’s the “yet” that’s most telling. Verita is a Melbourne-based cyclist riding for Specialized Securitor. New to the sport, she’s quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.

She now juggles full-time work with full-time NRS racing and hopes to make the leap to the big-leagues sometime soon. Verita is full of stories and smiles and snark – and will bring all three to you on Ella. Follow Verita on twitter and instagram and strava.

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