How to clean a kids bike

Do you want to know how to clean a kids bike? We’re here to help with some handy hints and tips to keep your child's bike (and yours!) clean and well-maintained, meaning you’ll get more miles out of the components and reduce the chance of your sprog getting covered in those annoying oily marks from a dirty chain. Parts will also last longer on a well looked after bike, saving you money in the long run.

If you ride during the winter, salt on the roads, puddles and damp conditions can cause additional wear and rust build up on your bike.

Not sure where to lube, where to scrub and what products to use? We have asked a bunch of mums who work in the cycling industry how they motivate their kids to keep their bikes clean, and what products they trust to be safe for the bike, planet and most importantly little helpers!

Bike cleaning can also be a perfect time to check your bike for wear and ensure its still safe for your child to ride.

boy cleaning a kids mountain bike with a hose

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What you need to clean a kids bike: 

Choosing the right product to clean your family's bikes is worth some consideration and thought. If you want to get your child involved in the process we’d recommend finding products that are natural and safe for the environment and your child's skin. 

If you're unsure about the safety of the products you wish to use, then water on its own, without any product will still do a brilliant job of cleaning your bike! 

Cleaning brushes or sponge: A good set of brushes will mean you and your child can brush off any dirt and grime from your bikes. Smaller brushes work well for getting in all the gaps on a bike and cleaning little children's bikes.

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Bucket and water supply: A hose or bucket of water will do the job, avoid using a pressure washer if possible(read our FAQ's below as to why!).


toddler hosing down a bike

Cleaning spray: A cleaning spray will work to break down the grease and grime on the bike and leave your bike sparkling (this is a perfect job for a littler helper)

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Degreaser: A degreaser is specially designed to break down the grease on your bike’s chain and chainrings.

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Rags: Old t-shirts, cloths or ripped-up old bed sheets are really useful for wiping down the bike and getting moisture off the chain once you have washed your bike.


little boy in an orange top cleaning his yellow bike

Chain lube: Once your bike is clean and you have wiped off excess water it’s a must to lube the chain, to stop it from rusting and keep it running smoothly and quietly - therefore prolonging its life.

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Steps to cleaning your bike:

  1. Lean the bike up against a wall or fence, or use its kickstand to keep it up right while you're washing it. Its best to keep it upright as otherwise you’ll be spraying water directly into the bike's drainage holes and risk filling it with water! 
  2. Remember to remove anything from the bike you don't want to get wet; lights, favourite cuddly toy etc.
  3. A good rinse with water will help to get the worst of the mud and dirt off. Soak all over starting at the top and let gravity help take the crud away.
  4. Spray bike cleaner over the bike. (leave this step if you don’t have a bike cleaner at hand) 
  5. Using a brush, clean all sections of the frame, forks, wheels and tyres to remove dirt. Make sure you keep rinsing your brush so you aren't just re-distributing the dirt. 
  6. Rinse away the cleaning fluid and dirt. 
  7. Using a degreaser, spray this on the chain, cogs/cassette and derailleur. Leave to soak as per the instructions, and use a brush to scrub away any build-up of grease. 
  8. Give the bike a good final rinse and check to make sure you’re happy you've got all the dirt off. Check underneath the bike too! 
  9. Using a rag, dry off the bike. Use a separate rag for the chain, brakes and frame so you don't mix grease around or contaminate the brakes. 
  10. Re-lube your chain to stop it from getting rusty and to keep it running smoothly. 
  11. Enjoy riding your shiny happy bike!
Boy in a orange jacket and blue helmet cleaning his bike with a hose
bike parts diagram
boy cleaning a green bike

How to get your Sprogs involved: 

  • Make it part of the process of going for a bike ride, teaching them good habits that cleaning a muddy bike at the end of a ride will keep their bike happy for longer.
  • If it’s cold outside then warm water might tempt little hands to get more involved.
  • Little ones can get really wet as they help with bike cleaning, so keeping them warm and dry in some all in-one waterproofs and wellies can help.
  • Cleaning bikes can be fun! If it’s sunny outside then it’s not the end of the world if some of the water strays away from going directly on the bike!

Top tip from a Mum:

Let’s face it kids love hosepipes, a bucket of soapy water with a sponge, and spray bottles, so bike cleaning is an obvious choice for an activity to fill an hour or two. It gets my 3 year old outside even on a rainy day, and under the surface you’re helping them gain that sense of pride of looking after a bike, too.
Whether it’s the trailer, your bikes or theirs - they love cleaning them all, and getting into the habit of cleaning the bikes when you get home also encourages them to get their wheels muddy when they’re out because they know they get to clean it later. It also gives you a great opportunity to name bike parts and learn about how the drive chain works. Win, win.
Boy in a orange jacket cleaning his bike
man and boy cleaning a bike with a watering can

Disc brake top tips! 

  • You mustn't contaminate the disc rotors or brake pads with grease and grime, as it’ll reduce the effectiveness of the brakes, and make them squeal and honk when you brake, which is really annoying as well as potentially dangerous! 
  • Be sure to not use any aerosol-based products anywhere near your bike. Always apply them onto a rag well away from your bike if they are really needed.
  • You can use disc brake spray or fluid to wipe off any dirt that builds up on the rotors, ensure you use a clean rag or paper towel. 
  • It's best to keep little fingers away from disc brakes! 

How to lube your chain

  1. Once your chain is clean, use a rag to dry off any excess water. Run the pedals backwards, while you hold a rag around the chain.
  2. Continuing to run the chain backwards, apply a drop of lube per chain ring. It doesn't need to be too accurate, but you're aiming to get a small amount of lube over every link.
  3. Once you are sure you have gone the whole way around the chain, continue to spin the pedals backwards for around 10 seconds, helping to distribute the lube and let it set into all the moving parts of the chain.
  4. Using a rag, repeat step one, to remove any excess lube.
  5. Enjoy riding a rust-free chain, keep an ear out for it getting dry and re-apply as needed or when you next wash your bike.
how to lube your chain

checking the bike is safe to ride

It's important to regularly check your child's bike is safe to ride, and what better time to do this then when it's getting cleaned.

  • Visually inspect the bike while you are cleaning it for any damage and wear to the frame and components.
  • Is there enough air in the tyres? Our top tip is to aim for them to feel as firm as an orange would if you squidged it!
  • Do the brakes work effectively? Check to see how much braking surface is left on the brake pads.
boy on a balance bike riding through a puddle


How often should you clean your bike?
When it’s dirty or there is a build-up of grease on the chain. This might be more often in winter if the trails you are riding are wet and muddy. If your bike is getting dirty daily on the ride to school, for example, it’s good practice to clean it weekly to avoid dirt building up too much. 

How often should you oil/lube your bike chain?
After every wash, as you will have removed the chain lubricant when you're washing it.
You might need to top the lubricant up in between rides if it's wet or you're not washing the bike often- if it sounds dry when you're pedalling then it’s time for lube.

My bike has a belt drive, how do I clean it?
Belt drives don't need lubing or oiling. You can clean the rubber if it’s dirty with water and a brush, but you won't need any other products. They are designed to be easy to maintain. 

Is jet washing a bike a good idea?
Jet washes can be bad for your bike as the pressure of the water can force dirt into the bearings (the moving parts of your bike), or remove all of the good grease that keeps these bearings happy. If you are using a jet wash, turn the pressure down as much as possible, and stand well back from the bike so the water isn't hitting the bike with too much force. 

How to clean a bike trailer:
You can clean the outside of the trailer with bike cleaning spray, and the inside can be hoovered, swept and wiped down. Some trailers will have removable foam and padding that can be removed, washed and dried. 

How to clean a cargo bike?
In the same way as a bike, you might want to remove accessories and panniers that might get in the way of the bike.
Use the bike stand, or lean it against the wall to keep it stable while you're cleaning. 

What are the different types of chain lube?
The two main types are wet and dry lube. Wet lube is perfect for if you are riding in wet conditions, through puddles and muddy riding. Dry lube is great for dry conditions, but will rinse off if it gets wet!

muddy orange kids bike
very muddy kids mountainbike
dad and daughter cleaning a kids bike


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