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Alternative to rags for cleaning, lubing chain

Old 08-25-19, 07:04 PM
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vuduthmb
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Alternative to rags for cleaning, lubing chain

I like to pull the Townie and my Giant Cypress out once in a while and wipe the chains and apply a chain lubricant. I usually use household rags for this job, and then I throw them away because they're so dirty. Is there an alternative to rags for this job? Paper towels or baby wipes or something.
Any input is appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 08-25-19, 07:50 PM
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How about just wash them? That’s what I do.
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Old 08-25-19, 08:02 PM
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Cats. They clean themselves.
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Old 08-25-19, 08:14 PM
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If the chain is off the bike I'll hit it with a wire brush. Otherwise I throw away the rags (with all due care to oily rags--avoid spontaneous combustion).

I get many of my rags on the roadside, especially in boating areas on summer weekends. So I don't feel so bad about eventually throwing them away, since they were once litter I picked up.

Since I share a washing machine with people I love, I don't put greasy rags in the laundry (any more).
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Old 08-25-19, 08:25 PM
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I have a Rubbermaid just for worn out fabrix that I keep handy for dirty jobs. It might contain old bed sheets, towels, cotton shirts and Tees, anything that will absorb goes into it instead of the garbage. But yeah, I like to wash it first and then just use the rag for drying before waxing. Hey Bill, do cats really make a good chain? Do you use the whole cat or just the catgut? A self cleaning chain would be really cool.
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Old 08-25-19, 09:00 PM
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I cannot remember where I saw it, but there is a sponge that is made and shaped just for cleaning chains. It has a ridge running down the center of the sponge that is supposed to assist in cleaning the inside of the links. It is also supposed to be easy to clean and last for a number of cleanings. I was kind of skeptical but there were a couple of good reviews. Anybody out there that knows of and where to get it?
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Old 08-25-19, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Cats. They clean themselves.
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Old 08-25-19, 09:11 PM
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Simple Green is a miracle surfactant

Full strength simple green cleaner will remove roofing sealant. You should be able to dump some on the rag you use and hand wash the worst of off it, then wash with other rags.

Don't put the simple green in your washer in any significant amount though, unless you like bubbles.
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Old 08-25-19, 10:33 PM
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I have an old plastic popcorn jar with a wide mouth that I keep about 1/2 full of mineral spirits. I drop the chain in and let it soak, give it a few shakes, soak, shake ... over a day or so. Pull the chain out and let it drip dry over paper towels then reinstall and lube.
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Old 08-26-19, 03:33 AM
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Here in the US, Ace Hardware stores have rolls of heavy duty paper towel that are perfect for wiping off chains. I suspect Auto Zone or other auto supply stores have them also.
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Old 08-26-19, 03:49 AM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
Here in the US, Ace Hardware stores have rolls of heavy duty paper towel that are perfect for wiping off chains. I suspect Auto Zone or other auto supply stores have them also.
A well as many others, Home Depot, Harbor Freight

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Scott-Sh...5143/202519693

https://www.harborfreight.com/dispos..._q=shop+towels

https://www.pepboys.com/sellars-tool...510?quantity=1
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Old 08-26-19, 06:13 AM
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maybe try some mechanic hand cleaning wipes, they will have something to cut grease and grime in the wipe. after you are done throw away.
possibly something like this....https://www.menards.com/main/health-...2823301788.htm
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Old 08-26-19, 09:42 AM
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yeah, this is the answer I was looking for. Perfect. Thank you.
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Old 08-26-19, 10:27 AM
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Curious about the Gojo. I may try that next.

Currently I wipe down my chain after every ride using the Scott shop towels and degreaser. I spray the degreaser mix (simple green) lightly directly onto the towel and just wipe the outside of the chain. I make sure I don't put enough degreaser to soak into the chain pivots/rivets so that it doesn't dissolve the chain lube inside the pivots. Just a light enough spray to cut through the grime on the outside of the chain. Then I do a second pass with just the shop towel, to remove any trace of the degreaser from the outside of the chain, and discard the towel.

About every 100 miles or so I reapply the Finish Line wet lube. The chain/transmission noise will tell me when I need to. It's very quiet right after cleaning and application, but then after maybe 5 or so rides of between 10-25 miles, if after doing the quick wipe down it is still markedly noisier, then I'll do a reapplication of the lube.

After maybe 500 miles I'll do a deep clean of the chain using the Park Tool chain cleaner tool and full strength chain degreaser, followed by a pass with soapy water, then multiple passes with regular water and allow to air dry before applying the lube again, one drop on each pivot. Since I ride just about every day, this ends up being maybe once every 4-5 weeks. More frequently if I've done riding in very dusty/sandy areas like trails or beach-side paths.
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Old 08-26-19, 01:47 PM
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Scott shop towels work great. I buy a bundle of 12 rolls at Sam's club. I use mineral spirits or camp stove fuel for degreaser, never anything water based. Crown brand camp stove fuel at Wal-Mart is a lot cheaper than mineral spirits and evaporates faster.

With my home brew wax based lube, I can easily go 120 miles with no wiping. Then I wipe the chain with a shop towel that has a little camp stove fuel on it and reapply the dry lube. This gives me the cleanest drivetrain I've ever had.
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Old 08-26-19, 02:07 PM
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I don't buy any disposable product for cleaning my bike chain. I have found that old terrycloth towels are the best thing to clean chains. They are absorbent and the nap of the towel gets well in between chain links. One facecloth sized piece of towel can be used many times after having been used many times before for many other things. I used to use old towels to dry my car after having washed it, this after years of use drying me off after a shower. They were also great for washing windows, could be used many times for that. Once they became more frayed, I would cut them up to clean my bike chains, they wore much better than a plain rag. Once they are saturated with dirt and oil from chain cleaning, it is time to dispose of them. I would never buy a one time use product for wiping my bike chain
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Old 08-26-19, 03:15 PM
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Nobody here uses a chain cleaner? I've been using one for 20 years. I use Simple Green or Citrus based cleaner and then dispose of the waste using household hazardous waste pickup.

Edit: I noticed CarloM uses one.

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Old 08-26-19, 03:40 PM
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An on the bike cleaner takes at least two times to really clean a chain. If water based products are used, they leave residue on the chain. They also have to leave cleaning fluid residue on the sprockets, chain rings, and hub . Cleaning the chain is best done with it off the bike.
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Old 08-26-19, 06:03 PM
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I use worn-out socks. They're pretty small, and I don't miss them when I've saturated one with grease and throw it in the trash.
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Old 08-26-19, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Gresp15C View Post
I use worn-out socks. They're pretty small, and I don't miss them when I've saturated one with grease and throw it in the trash.
Major missed opportunity for me. About a month before I got into cycling I discarded a bunch of old white cotton undershirts and socks that had gotten hole-y with age. I would have had chain rags for months if I hadn't discarded those...
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Old 08-26-19, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
Cats. They clean themselves.
They can be trained to check spoke tension, too:

(From the https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...ur-cat-72.html thread.)

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Old 08-26-19, 10:50 PM
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Fenwick's Bicycle Chain Cleaner
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Old 08-27-19, 05:47 AM
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I use the Park cleaner myself, but since I went to a wax lube the chain doesn't get nearly as dirty. You need to apply it more often but it really makes for a quiet and clean ride. You can run your hand over my chain and not have a semi-permanent tattoo on it, just a little smudge. Squirt brand is what I'm using, specially designed to do exactly this. I apply every 100-150 miles on two different bikes.
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Old 08-27-19, 08:28 AM
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I keep one very dirty rag just for wiping my dirty chain, when there are no more clean surfaces on it I throw it away. I also have clean rags handy for jobs that require it - cleaning bearing surfaces before relubing, for instance, and most of these will eventually graduate to being chain wiping rags.
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Old 08-27-19, 10:08 AM
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I use plain paper towels for initial chain-wiping, then rags.

One tee shirt cuts up into ~25 rags and since

they are used for progressively greasier tasks, that is a two year supply.
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