Tips For Cleaning Your Ebike

Electric bikes require special considerations.

Bike Cleaning
A clean ebike is a happy ebike.Staff

It’s a fact: A clean bike works better and lasts longer. In this article, we’ll talk about smart bike cleaning methods that specifically apply to electric bicycles.

We’ll assume a workstand is not available, but if it’s within your budget, a good stand makes cleaning (and repair) much easier. Until that time, find a good place outside to lean the bike against—or even better, something that will let you hang the bike by the saddle’s nose.

Enter one muddy, filthy bike. If the mud is still damp, let it dry out—this will make it easier to remove, and gives you time to gather your cleaning kit (list below).

Bike Battery Close Up
Take special care to avoid contaminating your ebike’s battery terminals.Staff

Water and electricity are not a good combination, so start by removing the battery and the display (which often contains a button-cell battery) and set them aside in a dry, secure place. Use a dry, clean cloth to cover the exposed battery terminals on the bike. Now you can go about knocking off the big chunks of mud using a stiff bristle brush.

Next, fill your spray bottle with a little dish soap and warm water. (A pump sprayer is even nicer, if you have one. Power washers are generally too strong and can cause damage if you get too close or aim poorly.) While avoiding the handlebar/stem area and battery terminals, spray down the bike. While the bike soaks, fill two buckets with dish soap and warm water (one marked “Heavy” for more soap, the second marked “Light” for less soap), along with a third bucket sans soap—the rinse water. This is also a good time to glove up.

Soak your large sponge in the “Heavy” soapy water (using a sponge, brush, or rag for heavy cleaning; do not use it for light cleaning) and start wiping off as much mud/dirt you can get to. Now you can give the bike its first rinse. Fill the water bottle from the rinse bucket and spray down the bike, working your way from the top down, avoiding the handlebar and battery terminal.

This is a good time to focus on the drivetrain. Fill your chain cleaning tool with degreaser and run the chain through until it’s clean. If you don’t have a chain cleaning tool, wrapping a scouring pad soaked in degreaser around the chain while turning the cranks backward can do the trick. Next, put some degreaser in a cup and get after the cassette, chainrings, and rear derailleur pulleys with the gear-cleaning brush. Follow this by doing the same, only with “Heavy” soapy water instead of degreaser.

Still using the first soapy bucket, grab a variety of brushes and sponges and tackle the derailleurs, cranks, pedals, saddle belly (bottom), seatpost, and wheels. Make sure to wash the tires as well. Removing all the dirt will allow you to see embedded objects waiting to cause a puncture, as well as cracks, tears, and general wear. Now go back to the rinse bucket and give the bike a second rinse, avoiding the same areas as before.

Now we can address the handlebar/stem area. Grab your cleaning wipes and remove any dirt the dry brushing didn’t dislodge. Follow up with a microfiber cloth soaked in your “Light” soapy bucket. Wring it out until damp, and wipe down the handlebar, stem, and control levers to remove any remaining dirt and clean wipe residue. This ensures you don’t get water into sensitive areas of the shifters, brake levers, and display mount.

Sticking with the “Light” soap bucket, grab a brush or sponge and clean the frame of any remaining dirt. As before, follow with a clean rinse. Avoid heavy scrubbing/scouring of shock and fork stanchions. This can cause damage that will affect performance.

To dry things out, start by lifting and bouncing the bike a couple of times on the tires to remove the heavy drops. Finish with a couple of clean microfiber towels (one in each hand speeds things up a bit) and wipe down the entire bike. This is a good time to inspect and examine the bike for any issues that may have been lurking beneath the dirt.

You can finally pull whatever you used to protect the battery terminal and clean the area, if needed, by starting with a cleaning wipe, followed by a damp cloth from the “Light” soap bucket, and drying. Now do the same for the battery and display. This method will spare these sensitive areas from water damage while getting them clean.

Finish by installing the battery and display, inspecting terminal connections as you go. If they aren’t shiny, use a pencil eraser to remove surface corrosion or accumulated dirt. And finally, give the chain some fresh lube—drop a little on each pivot, then wipe off the access with a clean rag.

When storing your cleaning supplies, keep the brushes used for the heavy greasy areas in the “Heavy” bucket, the ones used on the frame and secondary washing in the “Light” bucket, and the clean microfiber cloths/rags in the rinse bucket. This will help keep contamination at bay.

Also, if you usually only have light road grime and dust, you can do most of your cleaning with a cleaning wipe, followed by a damp soapy microfiber cloth and drying with a clean dry cloth.

Supply List

  • Workstand (ideal but optional)
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Microfiber cloths or rags
  • Brushes (as many as you can get your hands on)
  • Sponges (large and small)
  • Spray bottle or pump sprayer
  • Dish soap
  • Bicycle water bottle
  • Three buckets (labeled Heavy, Light, and Rinse)
  • Chain cleaning tool or scouring pad
  • Degreaser
  • Cup or jar (8- to 12-ounce size)
  • Rubber gloves (dishwashing gloves work great!)
  • Pencil eraser
  • Chain lube