How to clean bike chain at home

The motorcycle chain provides the primary driving force transmission from the engine to the rear wheel. A weak or poorly maintained bike chain will result in underwhelming performance and could lead to safety issues if it breaks while riding. That’s why it’s important to learn how to clean motorcycle chain for optimum maintenance and riding with confidence. Let’s explore the best way to take care of your motorcycle chain and explain the benefits for all riders.

What Are the Advantages of Using a Motorcycle Chain Cleaner/Lubricant

The best way to maintain your bike chain is to use a high-quality chain cleaner and lubricant. There are numerous benefits to using these products such as:

1. Reduces Friction

A moving chain causes heavy friction between the sprockets of the wheels due to continuous movement with metal-on-metal contact, leading to wear and tear. A chain cleaner product followed by a suitable lubricant will extend the life of your chain and save you money on frequent repairs or replacements.

2. Resists Forces When Accelerating

When you are accelerating on the open road, your chain experiences a significant force that it should be able to withstand. A good motorcycle chain cleaner + bike chain lubricant can resist these forces so that your chain moves smoothly even under rapid acceleration.

3. Prevents Chain Stretching

Over time, the chain elongates and leads to poor performance and compromised safety. Regular use of a high-quality chain cleaner and lubricant maintains proper chain tension and reduces the stretching of chain links.

4. Good Adhesion For Lubrication

Dust, dirt and other contaminants can hamper the lubricant from adhering to the chain surface. If you use a chain cleaner, the lubricating product is able to stick to the surface and reduce friction, keeping your chain in good condition.

5. Water And Extreme Temperature Resistance

Your bike chain needs to perform well in all weather conditions including in rainy and wet climates. A reliable motorcycle chain cleaner will protect the component from water splashes that can cause rust and corrosion. In addition, the cleaner protects the chain from hot or cold temperatures, ensuring it operates smoothly.

6. Rust And Corrosion Protection

A rusted chain will quickly fail and can cause a safety issue if not addressed in time. Keeping your bike chain clean reduces the spread of rust and corroded chain links which can reduce performance, increase noise and potentially costly repairs. Chain cleaner provides a protective layer from destructive elements.

Cleaning motorcycle chain with brushed copper.

7. Ability To Handle Heavy Loads

If you carry heavy loads on your bike or tour for long distances, the chain is subject to increased stress. The right bike chain cleaner and lubricant are designed to handle heavy load conditions for reliable and hassle-free riding.

What Are The Signs That Your Motorcycle Chain Needs Cleaning?

Watch out for the following signs before you break out the cleaning supplies and start working on maintaining your motorcycle chain.

  • Accumulation Of Dirt And Grease: An inspection of the bike chain should let you know when your bike chain needs a clean. A thick layer of dirt, grime, grease and debris on the chain links and sprockets will need to be cleaned with a high-quality chain cleaning product.
  • Increased Noise While Riding: A noisy chain is a sure sign that your bike chain needs cleaning and lubrication. As the chain loses its lubricating properties, the metal starts to grind and the bike will get noisy while running.
  • Reduced smoothness: While changing gears and accelerating, the power delivery should be seamless. If you start to feel jerking or hesitation, then your bike chain needs to be cleaned and lubricated.  
  • Visible Rust and Corrosion: If you spot rust forming on your chain, it’s a sign that moisture has started attacking the metal surface. Cleaning and lubrication will prevent further damage.
  • Chain Slack: A dirty chain will elongate and cause excessive chain slack. Adjust chain tension and clean the chain if this occurs.
  • Reduced fuel efficiency: A chain that has been neglected will start to drag and put more stress on the engine. You’ll end up consuming more fuel while you drive with a dirty chain.
  • Poor Performance: If you are experiencing slow acceleration, and sluggish performance despite revving the engine, then a high-quality chain cleaning product is required.
  • Automatic transmission bikes are amazing to ride because you don’t have to worry about shifting gears. Take a look at these best automatic geared bikes in India.

An Easy Guide on How to Clean Motorcycle Chain at Home

We’ll walk you through the steps for motorcycle chain cleaning to ensure smooth riding.

You’ll Need the Following Supplies:

  • Motorcycle stand / Paddock Stand
  • Chain cleaning brush
  • Gloves
  • Cleaning Cloths
  • Bike Chain Cleaning Product
  • Bike Chain Lubricating Product

Prepare Your Motorcycle

Park your bike on the centre stand or use a paddock stand so that the rear wheel can be elevated and you have easy access to the chain.

Use gloves and safety goggles during the cleaning process.

Brush Off Loose Dirt

Remove the chain cover and use a brush to remove any dirt on the chain. Rotate the wheel to access all sections of the chain.

Use a Chain Cleaning Product

Use a suitable bike chain cleaning product. It comes in the form of a spray that you can apply directly to the chain. The solvents in the product will get rid of any dirt, grease and contaminants.

Wipe clean with a cleaning cloth and repeat the process if necessary. If you don’t have a chain cleaning product, you can carry out cleaning a motorcycle chain with kerosene. Brush the kerosene on the chain and wipe clean. Allow it to air dry or use compressed air to dry the solvents.

Cleaning motorcycle chain with petrol and water should be avoided as these substances may damage the chain. Kerosene is an oily substance and works well with chains.

Lubricate The Chain

Once the chain is clean and dry, use a chain lubricating product. Rotate the wheel while spraying onto the chain to reach all sections. There are other types of chain grease that can be used as well. Refer to your motorcycle manual for specific information on motorcycle chain maintenance. This is a good time to adjust and set the chain tension and check the condition of the sprockets.

Spraying oil on motorcycle chain in close-up

Test The Chain

Take your bike for a short ride to ensure that the chain is working properly. The lubricant will spread evenly all over the chain during this process. Now you can refit the chain cover and you’re all set to hit the road. If you like fast bikes, you need to read this blog on the fastest bikes in the world.


This guide on how to clean your motorcycle chain should have provided you with all the information you need for a smooth and hassle-free ride, where your bike performs at its optimum level.

Discover the latest in the automotive world and the greatest car and bike accessories on the Carorbis Blog. Find comprehensive guides, how-to articles, insightful car and bike comparisons, in-depth reviews of automotive accessories and much more.

Black and Brown Bicycle Wheel

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1. Can We Clean Bike Chain With Diesel?

Ans. Cleaning a bike with diesel is not recommended as it strips the lubricating properties of the chain. Use a dedicated motorcycle chain cleaner and lubricant for optimum performance.

Q2. Is It Ok To Clean Bike Chain With Petrol?

Ans. Cleaning motorcycle chain with petrol can damage the chain and reduce its efficiency. It isn’t as effective as a proper bike chain cleaner.

Q3. What’s The Best Thing To Clean A Motorcycle Chain With?

Ans. LiquiMoly Motorcycle Chain Cleaner is the best product for degreasing bike chains and cleaning them of excess dirt and debris. Once the chain is cleaned it needs to be lubricated by LiquiMoly Motorcycle Chain Lube product.

Q4. What Liquid Is Used To Clean Bike Chains?

Ans. Bike chain cleaners contain a blend of solvents and degreasers to dissolve dirt, grime and contaminants from the chain.

Q5. Can I Clean Bike Chain With Kerosene?

Ans. Cleaning motorcycle chain with kerosene is fine if you don’t have a chain-cleaning product. It does contain both cleaning and lubricating properties.

Q6. Can I Use Soapy Water To Clean Motorcycle Chain?

Ans. Soapy water will not be able to dissolve grease and could lead to rust. It may also cause issues with the lubricating agent afterwards.

Q7. Can I Use Detergent On Bike Chain?

Ans. Detergent is similar to soap and will not clean the bike chain thoroughly. The chain requires a stronger chemical solvent to get clean.

Q8. How To Clean Motorcycle Chain Without Stand?

Ans. Ask a friend to steady the bike, then slowly roll it forward while applying cleaner to the rotating chain with a brush or piece of cloth.

Q9. What Can I Use To Clean My Motorcycle Chain?

Ans. Use kerosene to clean your motorcycle chain in the absence of a dedicated chain cleaning product.

Q10. How Can I Clean My Bike Chain At Home?

Ans. Degrease the chain with a brush and bike chain cleaner, and wipe dry with a cloth until the chain is free of dirt and grease. Then lubricate the chain with bike chain lube and check if the chain is moving freely.

Q11. What Is The Fastest Way To Clean A Bike Chain?

Ans. LiquiMoly bike chain cleaner is an efficient product to remove dirt and excess grease for optimum maintenance of motorcycle chains.

Q12. Can I Clean Motorcycle Chain With Toothbrush?

Ans. A toothbrush is suitable for cleaning a bike chain as you will be able to reach narrow areas for a thorough cleaning.

Q13. Can I Use Sanitizer To Clean Bike Chain?

Ans. Cleaning motorcycle chain with white spirit or sanitizer can leave residue behind and doesn’t have effective cleaning properties. The bike chain may seize after using sanitiser.

Q14. What Kind Of Brush Do You Use On A Motorcycle Chain?

Ans. The brush should have a slender design and hard bristles to effectively clean in between chain links. Wire bristles are not recommended as they may scratch the chain. Plastic or nylon bristles are more suitable.

Q15. Can I Use Wire Brush To Clean Bike Chain?

Ans. Wire brush could damage the chain and expose the upper surface of the metal to scratches. Use a dedicated chain brush made of nylon or synthetic materials.

Q16. Does Water Damage Bike Chain?

Ans. Water can lead to rust and corrosion on a bike chain if it is not dried off completely. This leads to accelerated wear during operation.

Q17. How To Clean Bike Chain Without Degreaser?

Ans. Kerosene is the best way to clean a bike chain if you don’t have a degreaser on hand.

Q18. How To Clean Bike Chain With Household Items?

Ans. Make use of a nylon brush, kerosene and an old rag to clean the bike chain. Once dry, you can add a suitable lubricant or oil to allow smooth operation of the chain.

Q19. Can I Clean Motorcycle Chain With Carb Cleaner?

Ans. Carb cleaners are harsh and may damage the chain. The chemical solvents used in carb cleaners are not suitable for cleaning chains.

Q20. How To Clean Bike Chain After Rain?

Ans. Wipe the chain dry with a clean rag to remove any excess moisture. Then use a bike chain lubricant product to drive away any remaining water droplets.

Q21. How To Clean Bike Chain Before Wax?

Ans. Bike chains use a special type of wax to protect it from moisture. Use a bike chain cleaner spray to remove all dirt, then lubricate it with a bike chain lube or wax.

Q22. Is It Ok For Cleaning Bike Chain With Baby Wipes?

Ans. Baby wipes will be ineffective at removing chain grease, dirt and debris. Avoid using these products as they will not work.

Q23. What About Cleaning Bike Chain With Baking Soda?

Ans. Baking soda cannot remove grease and dirt and may cause abrasions while the chain is rotating. Avoid using it on your bike chain.

Q24. How About Cleaning Bike Chain With Dishwasher?

Ans. Dishwashing soap is used to clean cooking oil and may not be effective in degreasing a bike chain.

Q25. What About Cleaning Motorcycle Chain With Brake Cleaner?

Ans. Brake cleaner is a suitable product for cleaning motorcycle chains as the solvents are compatible with both components.

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