Tech Tips: Winter Bike Wash DIY

January 3rd, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Cheryl Sherwood, Team OAM NOW Director

I first published this blog a couple seasons back but thought it was worth a re-run as the winter is finally upon us and along with it comes some trashed bikes and the challenge of clean-up.

bikewash 1For many years I  searched for a good bike wash solution after those muddy, salty winter rides and, finally, I found one. If you have a basement, heated garage, or out building, you’ll likely agree this system is perfect.

As many of us know, letting that bike sit too long means a rusted mess that makes for some bad shifting, trashed cables, and rust you’ll never completely clean up. I’ve tried putting my bike in the shower, but rarely is one big enough to fit  the bike and a person scrubbing it. Worse yet, it usually turns out to be a second project to clean up the mud and grease left behind  in the shower. Last fall, I was telling my dad I wanted to build something that could be easily taken down in summer and stowed away. I considered a kiddie  pool, but they are pretty wide and difficult to push out of the way when not in use.

My dad, having grown up working on a farm during his summer breaks, said “How about a cattle trough?”  He went “Googling,” and found what has turned out to be the perfect solution!  Thanks Dad!  I purchased the trough on Amazon.

Since it is long and narrow, the trough can be pushed out of the way when not in use;  sometimes I put a board over the top and even use it as a table/work area.  The trough is plastic, so I don’t have to worry about scratching my bikes, but there are aluminum versions that are cheaper.


I use a bike repair stand to hold the bike while washing.  All of my bikes fit in the trough, with or without wheels on them.   The  stand underneath was a recent addition to make the whole process a little easier on my back. 


bikewash3There is drain hole in the trough for convenience.  I have the luxury of  a drain in the floor in my pole barn, but draining in a bucket would do just fine.   I also have a hose with water hookup, but there is plenty of room to just set a 5 gallon bucket in the tub with the bike and you can wash from the bucket.





The next great idea is this brush.  This is the only brush I need to clean my whole bike.  It is a refrigeration brush, and is an inexpensive purchase from either Home Depot or Lowes. The brush fits in every crevice on your bike, including through the front derailleur or between the shifters and the handle bar on your mountain bike.   bikewash4







This pic ofbikebrush the brush is in the bottom of the tub with the bike, bucket and degreaser bottles, so you can see how much room there is in there.


This system has proven incredibly efficient and easy. My bike is clean. My shower is clean. My space isn’t cluttered with bike cleaning apparatus.  Most importantly, I am much happier riding a bike that shifts and runs well so my rides are without mechanical issues and more enjoyable.  A clean bike is a happy bike and a happy bike brings a happy rider.





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