Can You Use Car Cleaner On Bikes? Is It Safe To Use Them?

If you have both a car and a bike at home, you might be wondering: “Can you use car cleaner on bikes?”. The answer is yes but read on to know more about the pros and cons.

Bikes have been in our lives since childhood, and we have never cared for anything as we do for our bikes. They were our best friends and the best means to commute in the neighborhood. 

Bicycles today are the eco-friendly option for us to commute every day to cover small to large distances. They are affordable, easy to park, and need very low maintenance. 

Occasionally, your bike may get dirty and need good cleaning and maintenance, but what should you use to clean them? If you also have a car, you might wonder, are car cleaners suitable for cleaning bikes?

The simple answer is yes, but let’s evaluate the pros and cons of how it can be used for cleaning them. 

Can You Use Car Cleaner On Bikes

Pros Of Using Car Cleaners On Bikes

  • Car cleaners give out a good result in cleaning dirt, dust, and grime, including droppings; hence are a good option for cleaning bikes.
  • Many car cleaners come as multipurpose cleaners for bikes and motorcycles and can be easily used in the cleaning process as one product does it all. It saves costs for many bike owners. Since bike cleaning is done occasionally and they need not buy an extra cleaner exclusively for bikes.
  • The end result of car cleaners is way better than any other cleaners in cleaning and giving the surface shine, and it can be used on bikes. 
  • Car Cleaners are more concentrated, so a small amount goes a long way. You only need to dilute it well in a bucket of water before cleaning the bikes.
  • Many good-quality bikes are made of the same materials similar to cars, such as aluminum frames. Hence car cleaners are suitable for them.

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Cons Of Using Car Cleaners On Bikes

  • Some car cleaners need high-pressure cleaning for cleaning cars. Hence a water jet system is used to clean the car as cars are heavier. The high pressure of the water jet can cause damage to bikes as they may fall off while cleaning the bike. It can even harm the paint by chipping it off, and water can easily break into the axle.
  • Car cleaners can cause corrosion to bikes due to the salt content present in them. This leads to a possibility of ruining the brakes as well.
  • Car cleaners generate lots of foam during the cleaning process, requiring lots of water and effort to clean.
  • Car cleaners can get expensive when buying. The cost is high and quantity being more, car cleaners expire early.
  • Car cleaners may leave residue in the bicycle chain and can cause long-term damage to the bike’s chain.
Can You Use Car Cleaner On Bikes

What Should Not Be Used As A Bike Cleaner?

While choosing the bike cleaner, we need to be careful that the cleaners needn’t damage the bike and its various rubber and metal materials since they are sensitive to cleaners. 

  • Solvent-based cleaners and high alkaline cleaners can damage rubber parts by drying them out, leading to cracks and causing damage to paint and plastic surfaces. 
  • Detergent-based soaps may adversely affect bikes such as aluminum, magnesium, titanium, and carbon fiber as they are prone to corrosion on bikes. 
  • Avoid using scrubs on the bike frame as it can heavily damage the paint. 
  • Degreaser such as a bike-specific degreaser or kerosene is used for chains and is easily available. 
  • The best choice is to choose a cleaner safe for metals, rubber, and plastics for bikes.  

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Alternatives To Car Cleaner  

The alternatives to Car Cleaners are soap water, and biodegradable dishwashing liquid or similar soap are cheaper alternatives readily available at home. 

All it requires is a bucket of warm water, a sponge, and clean cloth rags. You can also use all-purpose cleaners. All-purpose cleaners can help remove grime and grease by applying it to a damp cloth with a mix of cleaner and water and rubbing it gently over the bike’s surface.

Do’s Of Cleaning A Bike

  • Always use a bucket of warm soapy water to clean the bike frame.
  • Do use grease-cutting soap.
  • Keep a brush to scrub off dirt and grime.
  • Do rinse before scrubbing. 
  • Clean the bike frame from top to down from the handlebars, headset, top tube, seat post, front fork, and brakes.
  • Always lubricate the bike chain as it is the bike’s most “at-risk” lubricated part. Cleaning and lubing it frequently slows down the chain wear.
  • Apply a drop or two of lube in the brakes after washing.
  • Lubricate the bikes derailleur levers and cables
  • To remove the wheels 
  • Always dry the seat as well as the bike frame with a cloth. 

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Don’ts Of Cleaning A Bike 

  • If you have disc brakes, keep soap away from the brake pads and rotors.  
  • Do not apply new lubrication on top of the dirty lube as applying so on the pre-existing lube will reduce the bike’s chain’s lifespan leading to damage. 
  • Don’t apply too much lube on the chain after washing, as any lubrication outside the chain’s rollers will attract grit and dirt. 
  • Don’t submerge the parts. 
  • Don’t use high-pressure car washes as they may risk damaging the body frame and paint.  
  • Do not use scrubs or sandpaper to scrub off dirt and grime as it can damage the paint and the parts, making it wear out.
  • Don’t use only one sponge for cleaning as dirt in the sponge will get on to other areas,
  • Do not let the bike dry in the air, and always pat dry it, or it may leave water residue and watermarks after drying.

Yes, You Can Use Car Cleaner On a Bike, Though You May Need To Also Use a Water Jet.

Bikes are an asset to keep, and they are suitable for short rides and long ones and require low maintenance. To keep your bike in top-notch condition, it is essential to clean it up regularly. Car cleaners and several other cleaners, such as all-purpose cleaners, are available in the market. 

But we have to ensure the type of cleaner we buy is specific for bikes as their overall longevity depends on how we clean and maintain them. Although car cleaners can be used, they have too much foam and need water jets at times. Hence, be mindful when you use any type of cleaner to clean your bike.