[Dr. Bronner's Soap, aluminum foil, a lemon, cream of tartar, old socks, toothbrushes]
All of the above items are things I have around my house. I chose them because I didn’t have to go and buy any of it, just stuff I have around anyway.
So roll up your sleeves and I’ll go through how to do a green clean on your bicycle.
If your bike is totally crusted with dirt, wipe it down first with a rag to clear away all the crud that easily wipes off. Next take your Dr. Bronners’s Soap (I like the Almond), and put a smallish dab of it on a super soft rag (I use old gym socks) and wipe across the surface of your bike. Follow with a slightly damp rag and start wiping off, repeating the process until you have removed all the surface grime and dirt from your bike. Use a tooth brush and q-tips if you really want to get down to it and clean all the tiny areas. No need to hose down your bike, or slop a bunch of soapy water from a bucket all over your bike, which will pollute groundwater runoff, streams, lakes and oceans. Just wipe away.
Next, grab the aluminum foil and fold it or wad it. Moisten it very lightly with some drops of lemon juice. Work all the chromed parts. You can shape the foil into any little special shapes you want. For instance, try some wedge shapes to really get into the small little areas, like the wheel spokes. Polish away. Elbow grease required!
Still stubborn rust spots on your chromed parts? Take the cream of tartar and add just enough water to make a paste with a consistency slightly runnier than toothpaste. Apply to the stubborn rusted areas. Leave on up to a few hours. Use an old soft, dry toothbrush to brush off the paste. There will be cream of tartar dust on the ground where you’ve brushed it off, but it’s harmless. Use a rag next and wipe off whatever remains. Repeat aluminum foil step for a final polish.
I’ve gotten amazing results using these very simple methods! This method is urban/ apartment dwelling friendly, too. No need to go outside to clean up your bicycle unless you want to.
In the second installment, I will cover the green clean way to degrease, lube/re-lube or oil your bicycle, and in future installments I will cover even more useful and handy eco/green ways of caring for your bicycle.
Original Comments Follow. This was Originally Posted by Thom at Old Bike Blog on January 14, 2009 at 11:32 AM
Terrific little article! Thanks so much for running it here. That chainring must have really taken some time and a lot of effort. Beautifully done!!
January 14, 2009 1:11 PM
Great post. I'm down for giving it a try. Will let you know how it works.
January 14, 2009 3:26 PM
Dennis...Thanks, I gave out my best eco green recipes/methods.
Also, it's been so great trading guest blogging with Thom!!!
ianchowmiller... Be sure to apply the elbow grease! That's the key to getting your chrome all shiney.
January 14, 2009 5:41 PM
Thanks for this article Shelley!
I love the simple products eco ness of the cleaning method for our bikes, as that was one big issue I have had with all the oils and degreasers out there.
OBB - thanks for having her.
January 14, 2009 11:53 PM
m e l i g r o s a said...
excellent post Shelly! I will try this soon ;)
January 19, 2009 8:33 PM
David Hembrow said...
I almost didn't read this article, thinking that I wasn't much interested in cleaning my bike.
However, it's actually very interesting. One question, though. What can I substitute for the soap, which I've never heard of and which by the look of it is only available in the US. Will any old soap do ? Or vegetable oil (I note it's made of a mixture of oils) ?
January 20, 2009 12:53 PM
Dr. Bronner’s soap is a pure castile soap. Perhaps you can purchase it online? If not, a good, pure and liquid castile soap could be substitute...one that is hopefully organic, fair trade, biodegradable and vegetable based like Dr. Bronner’s is.
An aside I know, but I was introduced to it on a ‘back country’ camping trip. I used it for everything; washing dishes, my shampoo, my body wash, even brushed my teeth with it!
Here in the USA it is very common in natural food stores.
meligrose & man... glad you appreciate the article!
January 20, 2009 6:45 PM
If you want to make your own natural soap, just get some oil (sunflower oil makes a good white liquid soap and it's cheap) and caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). You'll find many recipes to make soap on the net. The basic ratio for sunflower oil is: 7 part of oil to 1 part of caustic soda (in weight). With 1 litre of oil you make about 3 litres of liquid soap. Pay a lot of attention while weighing the soda (in open air!) and dissolving it in water and mixing it with the warm oil. Use gloves and goggles. Note that you only use about a quarter of the final quantity of water to dissolve the soda. You will add water to make the final quantity towards the end of the process. Mmm, perhaps I should make a short article. The result is a very thick and filamentous liquid soap that won't clean mineral oil dirt like your average detergent, but at least won't pollute the planet. This proportions are for a strong soap that is not indicated for personal use, but is good for the washing machine. Giuliano
January 23, 2009 1:53 PM
Just checked back and found your comment. Thanks for the soap recipe and responding to David H's request for alternatives to Dr. Bronner's soap.
Does sound like a lot of work to make it, (and I'm not crazy about wearing the goggles part.) But I respect all the DIYers out there who are into making stuff yourself.
Still I recommend a castile soap (and one safe enough I can brush my teeth with it, like Dr. Bronner's.)
I hope this post enjoys a long shelf life... so anyone else out there who cares to put in your own 2cents, I will be checking back here time to time.
January 28, 2009 9:36 AM
I'm so glad to read this post! Especially looking forward to the next installment. I've been asking around for exactly this kind of info for a while, and I was feeling like no one else was really thinking about it. (no one else that i asked about it, anyway!)
My one question is with regards to the aluminum foil. I try to avoid things like that, and so I was wondering if there is a non-disposable alternative that you can think of that would do the trick?
Thanks for this post. :)
February 11, 2009 5:37 PM
Deb...I am so glad you enjoyed the post.I gave it some thought. I would stick with using the aluminum foil. It is plentiful and in most people's households. However if you do not purchase it yourself perhaps you could ask neighbors or co-workers to save their used foil for you...even with a little cooking grease on it this wouldn't hurt at all. Another thought is to go to a online group like 'freecycle' and put up a request. Lots of people love to find ways to recycle everything and would be delighted to accommodate you with their used foil.
February 12, 2009 4:33 PM
Thanks for the tips and tutorial! I need to learn how to be patient, but I'm anxious for the next installment for my little project [:
May 18, 2009 8:51 PM
david m. said...
Thanks for the great write up! It's a helpful primer for fellow fixer-upper aficionados.
September 30, 2009 11:41 AM