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I’m sure I’m not alone in my firm resolve to keep my bike clean, lubed and degreased regularly. I’m also fairly certain I’m not alone in that this unwavering commitment seems to somehow ebb away over time.
Needless to say, when I do clean my bike I’m inevitably faced with a horrendous build up of claggy, greasy gunk. And it feels like a big job.
We all know it makes sense to keep a bike clean. Cleaning and maintaining a bike not only improves performance but saves on costs in the long term. Popping your bike on a stand and giving it the once over regularly, will increase the lifespan of parts that otherwise might need repairing or replacing if left dirty and neglected for long periods.
But it can be a daunting task, particularly in the winter, when dirt and gunk builds up quickly.
So, it’s no wonder that many people use degreasers and cleaners that can simply be sprayed on, rinsed off, and take most of the pain out of the experience.
Can Bikes Harm the Environment?
Bikes offer a sustainable, healthy and pollution-free way to travel. Unless you chuck them into landfill, they’re unlikely to harm the environment, and even old bikes can be recycled for parts. Unfortunately however, not all bike accessories are as eco-friendly.
Some cycling accessories are bad for the environment simply because they’re hard to dispose of. Accessories such as pumps, helmets, lights and bags, though necessary, can be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to recycle.
Then there are substances for the purposes of cleaning and lubricating: oils, cleaning sprays and lubes. And these are perhaps the most harmful for the environment.
It’s notoriously difficult to clean oil and grease off a bike with water alone. Bike degreasers contain solvents that will break down grease and oil effectively, but in many cases these solvents are toxic for the environment.
Organic solvents, as used in many cleaning sprays, produce an air pollutant known as ‘ground-level ozone’, which in high concentration can have a serious and detrimental effect on the health of all life – human, animal and plant. If the solvents reach water sources, they are extremely hazardous to aquatic life.
Many bike chain lubes use PTFE, commonly known as Teflon. Some of the chemicals in PTFE don’t degrade, or take such a long time to do so that they’re (un-fondly) known as ‘Forever Chemicals’, polluting both air and water.
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Best Eco-Friendly Bike Cleaning Products
Cleaning, degreasing and lubing is a necessary part of bike maintenance. And choosing environmentally-friendly products is not only in keeping with your eco-friendly choice of transport, but will continue to support the momentum of positive change for the planet.
Here are our recommendations for some great products that won’t harm the environment.
- Best Eco-Friendly Bike Cleaners
- Best Eco-Friendly Bike Degreasers
- Best Eco-Friendly Bike Chain Lube
Environmentally-Friendly Bike Cleaner
✅ Readily biodegradable with 100% environmentally-friendly ingredients
✅ Safe on all parts and surfaces including carbon fibre
✅ Will not harm seals, cables, disc brake pads or rotors
✅ Dissolves easily in any type of water
✅ Vegan-friendly and cruelty-free
The world’s first plastic-free bike cleaner, Muc-Off spent three years developing the Punk Powder with the aim of creating a cleaning product that had the lowest possible impact on the environment. The packaging is 100% plastic free and the powder form means that each package is smaller and lighter, reducing the carbon footprint.
75% of the biodegradable ingredients are plant based. You add your own water – and this doesn’t have to be tap water. Any clean water (including rain water) will do.
Punk Powder is available as a ‘Bottle for Life’ bundle or refill packs. The Bottle for Life is made of recyclable, tough aluminium with a non-toxic, food grade silicone base.
Winner of the 2022 Design & Innovation Award, Punk Powder is a clear triumph. A powerful cleaner that protects the environment, and your bike.
Is Muc-Off Environmentally Friendly?
Muc-Off take their responsibilities to the planet very seriously. They have removed PTFEs from all of their products and offer biodegradable and water-soluble bike cleaners and degreasers. They also offer biodegradable lubricant made with an eco-friendly, vegetable oil based formula.
As a commitment to reducing plastic, Muc-Off created their Project Green, which to date has saved over 94 tons of plastic waste. They’ve been replacing much of their product packaging plastic with recyclable cardboard.
Muc-Off also offers biodegradable bike cleaner concentrated refills to encourage people to re-use the same bottle, thereby avoiding more waste.
Is Muc-Off Vegan?
Not all Muc-Off products are vegan, but they do offer some vegan products and are developing more. The Muc-Off Punk Powder Bike Cleaner is vegan friendly, made from biodegradable and plant-based ingredients. It’s not tested on animals, either.
The Punk Powder Bike Cleaner is also 100% plastic free with a very small carbon footprint. Keep reading to find out more about this fantastic eco-friendly product.
- Punk Powder Bike Cleaner (4 Pack) + Bottle for Life
✅ Water soluble formula for easy rinsing
✅ Non-caustic – can be used on all surfaces including carbon fibre
✅ Safe to use on brakes
This is a biodegradable, eco-friendly and water-based cleaner that can be used on every component of your bike, even your brakes. Once applied, it starts working immediately, gently lifting even the most stubborn dirt and grime.
Available in 500ml, 1 litre or 2 litre bottles, Kingud also offer a money saving concentrated ‘shot’ that you top up with a litre of water.
All Kingud products come in either recyclable or reusable containers and are dispatched in either recycled, reclaimed or cross cycled packaging. As well as reducing waste, their ‘biodegradable recipes’ are formulated to be non-harmful to the environment.
Environmentally-Friendly Bike Degreasers
Eco safe but with a powerful cleaning formula, the Dirtbusters chain degreaser is a revolutionary, water-based degreaser that safely and effectively gets rid of grease and dirt without using any harmful solvents.
This eco-friendly degreaser is ideal for those looking to keep their bike in top working order without any needless side effects for the environment.
Dirtbusters is a family run business, committed to providing eco-friendly cleaning solutions to those with eco-friendly passions.
✅ Powerful degreasing agent
✅ Fast acting
✅ Citrus formula
✅ Perfect partner for your chain cleaning tool
This powerful degreaser penetrates dirt, grime and sticky lube. The formula gets to work straight away and rinses off easily so you won’t be left with stains or residue. It will also leave your bike smelling of refreshing citrus, rather than harsh chemicals.
Part of Mobi’s Eco range, the citrus degreaser has been designed with minimal environmental impact. Mobi uses sustainable ingredients from natural sources as much as possible, creating readily biodegradable products that are free from petro-chemicals and other toxins.
A great product for hassle-free bike cleaning, which looks after the environment too.
What is Bike Degreaser Made Of?
Standard bike degreasers are often made with organic solvents, which contain petroleum and hydrocarbons. These can include paraffin, kerosene, heptane, acetone, ethanol and naphtha. Eco-friendly bike degreasers use alternatives, such as plant-based alcohol or even soya-based solvents.
Is Bike Degreaser Biodegradable?
Bike degreasers that utilise petroleum hydrocarbons are not biodegradable. They are highly effective, but the cost to the environment is also high. Increasingly though, manufacturers are recognising the demand for eco-friendly products. Many brands now offer biodegradable degreasers.
Biodegradable bike degreasers are often water-soluble. Some are alkaline-based, avoiding acids and solvents. Others use plant-based alcohol or soya-based solvents
However they achieve biodegradability, the common goal is to reduce harmful toxins in the environment. Extensive research and development has resulted in many eco-friendly cleaning agents that are still powerful and effective.
Environmentally-Friendly Bike Chain Lube
✅ Biodegradable after use
✅ Free from PTFE and petrochemicals
✅ Palm oil free
✅ 100% recycled bottle
✅ Wet and dry performance
✅ Long nozzle for easy access to hard to reach areas
✅ Effective for up to 125 miles between applications
Green Oil’s slogan, “Destroy limits, not nature!” perfectly encapsulates their mission – to create the world’s greenest bicycle maintenance products.
Developed in 2007, Green Oil’s award-winning bike chain lube was the country’s first biodegradable chain lube. It’s made with natural and plant-based ingredients, all of which are sustainably sourced. It doesn’t harm people, animals, plants or anything else.
And it works brilliantly, with one application lasting in excess of 125 miles on the chain. The mixture used is sticky enough to stay on the chain, but not so sticky that excess dirt sticks to it.
With wet or dry performance, and effective at temperatures as low as -11°C, this is an ideal eco-friendly choice for riding in all weather conditions.
✅ Non-toxic, natural ingredients
✅ Suitable for fair-weather use
✅ Repels moisture
✅ Protects against wear and prevents rust
The Phil Wood Bio Lube is completely biodegradable, non-toxic and environmentally friendly. It’s also packaged in recyclable materials and it’s not tested on animals.
Created from all-natural ingredients and lighter than the Phil Wood Tenacious Oil, the Bio Lube works effectively as a fair-weather lubricant that is ecologically sound.
At the time of writing this, the smaller sizes are seemingly difficult to get, but the available 4-ounce bottle will keep your bike lubed for a long time!