Cleaning your e-bike is an integral part of owning one, just like regular maintenance and the ride itself. Since e-bikes come with plenty of moving parts, they can accumulate dust and dirt - which could potentially damage your e-bike.
So, the principal thing about owning an e-bike is to keep it clean. It’ll run better and (usually) last longer; simple as that. Setting aside a few minutes every week to clean your bike can also spare you the hassle of a several-hours-long cleaning session every few months.
And given how much you’ve spent on it, there’s no excuse for not cleaning your e-bike.
Today, we’ll discuss everything you need to clean your bike, the best ways to do it - and share a guide for cleaning the drivetrain and even your bike helmet. So, let’s begin!
How To Clean E-Bike? - The Guide
Cleaning the e-bike shouldn’t take too much of your time. A quick do-over should take about five minutes, while a deep clean will likely take 25 minutes to half an hour. If you wait too long or put the cleaning off, it’ll take more of your time and effort. So, it’s in your best interest to do it once a week - or two weeks tops.
With that said, let’s get to the actual cleaning.
What Supplies Do You Need to Clean Your E-Bike?
First, we’ll go over what you’ll need to get started. Generally speaking, you won’t need anything that isn’t already sitting somewhere in your house - most of these items are your basic cleaning supplies.
So, you’ll need:
- A few dishcloths
- A bucket
- Plenty of warm water
- Stiff brushes and sponges
- Bike cleaner or dish soap
- Chain lube
- Bike stand
- Chain degreaser or WD-40
- Steel wool (for rust cleaning)
As for the brushes, you can invest in a bike-cleaning brush, but an old toothbrush will work just fine here. And instead of regular dish soap, you can buy a bike cleaner if you’d like and a chain degreaser while you’re at it.
Bike stands are optional - but they can be handy if you want to give your chain a good scrub.
Oh, and here’s a friendly reminder before you get started:
You need to avoid aggressive cleaning agents that could cause corrosions on your e-bike. Even more so, don’t use high-pressure washers such as those used for cars, as they can damage the disc brakes and the drivetrain. Seriously, pouring a bucket of warm water when you’re done will be more than enough.
Cleaning The E-Bike
When talking about bike cleaning, there are a few main things you shouldn’t skip when cleaning your e-bike - ever.
First, you should wash the frame and the wheels using a special cleaner or dish soap with warm water. You’ll need to avoid the braking surfaces, though. So, if you’re going for a more thorough cleaning session, you should consider taking the wheels off to protect the brake pad.
Other than that, the process is straightforward:
Fill a bucket with water, add some soap, grab a sponge and wipe down the frame, paying attention to detail. Then, use some clean water (or a hose) to clean the frame, and do the same with your wheels.
Next, you should clean the brakes - and for this, you will need a clean, dry rag. Wipe the dirt and dust off on the braking surfaces gently.
When you’re done, you can take a few dry rags and wipe down your e-bike or let everything dry naturally. That part is entirely up to you.
This method also works for mountain bikes or bikes with carbon fiber frames. If the bike is made out of carbon fiber, though, you will need very soft brushes and rags to clean it - and you should avoid aggressive cleaning formulas.
Now, here’s a piece of advice:
It’s generally better to dry the bike with rags as much as possible. Leaving the bike to air-dry can take too long and potentially cause damage to your beloved e-bike. Oh, and while we’re at it, be sure to check if your drivetrain and bolts are dry, as they usually tend to hold some water.
Cleaning The Bike’s Chain
The chain is an integral part of what makes any bike move. So, yes, you will need to clean it regularly - and with care - to keep everything working as it should.
Cleaning the chain can get a bit messy - but it’s relatively easy to do.
First, you should apply some of the bike cleaner or degreaser to the chain and the derailleurs - allowing the cleaner to sit for a few minutes. Remember that WD-40 can work just fine for this purpose, but special chain cleaners will generally pack a bit more cleaning power.
Use a brush to clean the cassette, derailleurs, and plates. Here, you will appreciate having a special bike cleaning brush - but again, even an old toothbrush will do. When scrubbing, pour water all over to clean off any excess degreaser or cleaner you applied.
Leave everything to dry off before you lube up your chain again.
Take a dry rag to tap everything dry, and put a single drop of lube to each link while pressing the pedal backward. Remember to apply a single drop of lube to the jockey wheels.
Be sure to clean off any excess lube when you are done, using a clean cloth.
If your chain has rust, you might have to take it off to clean it - but try to do it first while the chain is still on the drivetrain. Apply a generous amount of degreaser or WD-40, allow it to sit for about 20 minutes, and use steel wool to scrub it off.
If that doesn’t work, try using some good old lime juice. Again, allow it to sit - and give the steel wool another try.
And if the rust persists? Well, then take the chain off - and soak it thoroughly in a degreaser for half an hour before giving it another scrub with the steel wool.
Cleaning Disc Brakes
Here’s some fantastic news for you - cleaning your bike’s disc brakes is pretty easy and simple. However, one of the key points to remember when cleaning the disc breaks is that you need to avoid contamination at all costs.
You must replace contaminated brake pads no matter what - so you should generally pay extra attention when cleaning them. Another thing to remember is that you should avoid touching the lever seals and the caliper with the cleaning agent.
While we’re at it, make sure you don’t touch the rotors with your bare hands - our hands can be naturally oily, which could damage sensitive brakes.
If you must touch the rotors, use gloves.
That being said, the actual cleaning process is pretty simple:
First, you need to take some kitchen towels and wipe the brake system to remove dust and dirt. Then, you can use the special bike cleaner (or dish soap) with a clean cloth to clean the brakes.
Wash everything with a clean, damp cloth to remove soap and wipe it down with a kitchen towel or a dry cloth - and that’s it. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
Cleaning A Bike Helmet
Unlike e-bikes, helmets must be cleaned because they touch our heads and faces. And like any other piece of clothing, they need some soap-and-water treatment from time to time.
Cleaning bike helmets isn’t exactly rocket science, but if it’s been a long time since its last wash, it can take a good scrubbing before it’s sparkling clean again.
Supplies Needed For Cleaning The Helmet
As we established, it’s not rocket science - and you don’t need many supplies for it, either.
All you need is:
- Warm water
- Dish soap or clothes detergent
- Stiff brush
It’s best to fill the kitchen sink - or your tub - with warm water to clean your helmet. Simply add a bit of regular clothes detergent or some dish soap, and put the helmet inside.
You can let the helmet sit in the warm water, but don’t let it stay too long, as the glue holding the interior lining could start to degrade in water. If you can remove the inner lining, remove it before you submerge the helmet in water - and better yet, you can wash it in cold water in the washing machine (on a delicate setting, of course).
If the lining isn’t removable, though, use the sponge or brush to clean it. Give the straps a good scrub, as they can accumulate dirt, too.
Then, use a dishcloth to clean the exterior and the sponge to scrub any persistent spots. When the helmet is clean, rinse it with clean water to remove the soap entirely.
If your helmet seems smelly even after a good wash, consider leaving it in soapy water before scrubbing it down.
If that doesn’t do the trick, soak the helmet in a sink full of warm water and add about a cup - or two - of vinegar. Let the helmet sit in this solution for about an hour or two before air-drying it.
Cleaning your e-bike will take only a few minutes every week - and yet, it can help avoid some costly repairs. Remember:
Well-maintained bikes are nicer to ride, and they generally last longer, as dust and debris don’t damage the drivetrain or the brakes.
With a few supplies you probably have lying around the house, you can take great care of your e-bike and keep it in perfect shape.
You can use products you already have at home or invest in specialized formulas for e-bikes - but, either way, washing your bike regularly is essential!