Cleaning disc brakes and degreasing chain


Über Member

I'm finally picking up my new bike this week and would appreciate tips on the best way to clean disc brakes as I've never had them before. Is a going over with a sponge and soapy water as part of the general frame and wheel clean good enough, or do they require some kind of bespoke cleaner?

Also, chain-wise I'm happily Mickling away on my old bike currently and am planning to do the same on my new ride, but as I'll only be riding it in dry conditions was planning on using dry lube on this one instead of the bike oil I use currently. I know this is probably a daft question, but will Mickling still work with dry lube? I can't see how it will, but then I haven't used dry lube yet so am not sure what it's like.

Finally, what does everyone like to do when it comes to a good degrease? I've heard poor reviews of the chain cleaning tools so was thinking of avoiding them and going for something like this -


Thoughts? Is it ok to Mickle daily and then go for a degrease like this every month or two, or are the 2 techniques counter-productive when combined? And if an occasional full degrease is a good idea would that Fenwick's foam and sponge be a decent method? I've heard of people taking the chain off and soaking in white spirit, then using a cloth with white spirit on the cassette and chainring but it's only possible to take the chain off fully with a chain tool isn't it? Or can I fit a Sram Powerlink even though the chain it comes with is a KMC X10?

Thanks for any help you can offer, and sorry for the ignorance displayed in some of these noob questions!


Middle Earth
I clean mine while washing the bike - just make sure you dry them off properly.

Once every couple of weeks or so, I use some disc brake cleaner...

Scotia is spot on - discs are one of those rare occasions when it's worth using a specialist cleaner.

A tiny squirt over the calliper is all that's needed, and I usually then grip the brakes and push the bike a few metres - the cleaned brakes make a lovely high-pitched squeal.

The stuff costs about £6 a tin, but you use so little a tin should last years.


Middle Earth
Great stuff, thanks. I'll @ScotiaLass & @Pale Rider get some tomorrow.

I see Muc-Off also do a degreasing spray. Would you recommend that for the potential degrease regime mentioned above over the Fenwick's etc?
Any thoughts on Mickling with dry lube?
I use the de-greasing spray as well - only every few months and depending how muddy my bike gets - which can be quite muddy as it's a MTB!
I also use dry lube all year round. I find the wet stuff collects too much dirt and is greasy and horrible!
I'd rather use the dry stuff little and often.
Everyone's different though but I am sure you'll find a way that suits you :smile:
Degreasing fits into my category of 'not worth bothering with a specialist cleaner'.

I use wash and wax car shampoo on the basis the wax residue it leaves won't do anything on the bike any harm and might even do some of the components a bit of good.

And it keeps the painted parts nice and shiny.

My bikes never get very dirty, and I wipe them all but dry after cleaning to prevent surface rust.

Degreasing spray may be useful if the bike gets very dirty, or if you can't be bothered to clean it very often.

You seem well on top of chain lubing, your regime should give a decent service life.

Chains are consumable and need not be expensive, so it's not worth worrying about wringing a few extra kms out of one.


Über Member
Fair enough, I'll carry on as I am then. I use wash and wax car shampoo and hot water now too, and I will be cleaning my bike every week. As I'm only riding it in the dry and will be using dry lube hopefully that should be enough.
I was curious about degreasing as my current bike does accumulate a lot of crud and it's hard to get the cassette and chain clean, but I think that's because I ride it in all weathers and it was neglected for years so has picked up rust and gunk over the years that'll prob never be gotten rid of without a full strip-down. In fact it's probably doing more good in holding the thing together than harm in preventing it running smoothly!
I use the wash and wax on the cassette and the chain as well as the rest of the bike.

Washing weekly, you will find the dirt doesn't have the chance to become ingrained so will lift with very little work.

And if you leave a bit of wax residue, how bad?

It's what is on the chain when it leaves the factory.
I clean mine while washing the bike - just make sure you dry them off properly.

Once every couple of weeks or so, I use some disc brake cleaner...
I have no idea how much that costs, but I'd reckon that buying normal (car) brake-cleaner will be cheaper (& a bigger can)

Such as;


Puzzle game developer
Yup, same as me. Have never needed to clean the discs (rotors) on any of my roadie disc brake bikes.
It is what I really like about disc brakes, and why I think they will take over on all but the cheapest bikes - they work well in the wet, don't wear rims out, and the pads don't get quickly worn out by grit in the winter.


Well-Known Member
Also never cleaned my disc brakes in the past 10 years. When cleaning with water be prepared to wait 5+ hours or so before they stop squeeling. When washing the bike or lubing up chain or spraying other parts I always cover my rotors with plastic bags.
Top Bottom