Cycling is one of the most popular family activities in the United States, and cyclists who have children should find eco-friendly cleaning alternatives particularly compelling. Bikes need plenty of cleaning, yet industrial cleaners can be harmful to cyclists' and their children's health, the environment, and even the bikes themselves. Luckily there are several eco-friendly methods for keeping a bike spick and span.
Good Ol’ Water
Some cyclists overestimate how often, or how powerfully, they should clean their bikes. Depending on the environment in which they operate, bikes can maintain their cleanliness via rainfall or regular touch-ups with a rag. Scrubbing with a rag and water, although basic, is one of the most effective cleaning methods. A pressure wash can also be effective, although cyclists must be careful not to spray with too much force, otherwise water will get into the bearings, hubs and miscellaneous crevices. For a deeper clean, cyclists can squirt a bit of nontoxic soap onto the bike or rag before getting down to business.
An extra-greasy chain can be the most persistent cleaning problem for cyclists, but this can be dealt with using a toothbrush, a clean cloth and an eco-friendly cleaning agent. Many companies sell degreasing products that are specific to bike chains, but most of these are toxic. Some eco-friendly degreasers include Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner, 4U Biodegradable Degreaser, MamaSuds All-Purpose Cleaner, and Citrus Solvent. Citrus is one of the go-to natural ingredients for chain cleaning. Zep Heavy Duty Citrus Degreaser and Finish Line Citrus Bike Chain Degreaser are two other products that can get the job done naturally and with minimal environmental harm. For a real citrus cleaning, cyclists can mix together orange peel, lemon juice and other citrus sources, dilute it as needed, and voila: a cheap and completely natural bike chain degreaser straight from your refrigerator.
Baking Soda For Rust
Citrus can work on bike grease, but what about rust? Some cyclists may not think much about rust removal, but rust can defile a bicycle just like it can defile a car or truck. All a bike needs is moisture and time for that pesky red/brown destroyer to make an unwanted appearance. One trick to get rid of bike grease is to mix baking soda and water at 50/50 concentration, adding splash of lemon juice to the mixture for extra potency. Once it is stirred into a paste, rub it onto the rust and let it sit for about 15 minutes. When the time is up, scrub the paste with a thick brush; rust should come off with each stroke. Let the paste stand again to soak into the tougher rust. After 10 minutes, scrub it all off.
Industrial cleaners, while effective, can be harmful to the environment – not to mention human health and the integrity of a bicycle. To avoid unwanted complications from such toxic compounds, cyclists can turn water, nontoxic soap, citrus degreasers, and baking soda paste into a comprehensive, eco-friendly cleaning regimen.