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Bicycle Chain Cleaning

Those chain cleaning tools sold at most outdoors stores tend to pretty useless in my experience. They run around $30, but end up being cheap and ineffective pieces of plastic. I’ve given up on them in favor of cleaning my chain manually via a method discovered on Sheldon Brown’s chain maintenance page (any man with a beard like that must be infallible).

Bicycle Chain Cleaning

All that’s needed is a chain tool, a bottle, some sort of degrease-ing dish soap, and water.

Bicycle Chain

The process is simple. Break the chain with the chain tool and drop it into the bottle. (I use an old Gatorade bottle.) Then put in a small dollop of the soap. Fill up the bottle with water, shake it around a bit, and let it sit. The water becomes black immediately. After it has sat for about 15 minutes I’ll dump it out, rinse off the chain, and put it back into the bottle with fresh soap and water. I do this until the water stays clear, which generally takes about 3 cycles.

When it’s done, you should have a chain that’s relatively clean-ish. Dry it, toss it back on the bike, lube up, and start cruising! If the chain was really dirty, you might also want a cheap brush to scrub it down.

Badger Brush Cleaning

I’ve been wet shaving now for 6 months. Earlier today, I decided to clean my badger hair brush.

The brush is soaked with soap and water during every use, and there doesn’t seem to much of a consensus online whether that is enough or if a dedicated cleaning is warranted. For those who say the badger hair brush should be occasionally cleaned, the period I most often see is 2-3 months. Performing my first cleaning at 6 months, then, is a little off.

To clean, I mixed a solution of baking soda and lukewarm water into a thick paste. Covering the brush with the paste, I attempted to rub it into the hairs as best I could. This, I let sit for about 3 hours. Then, I thoroughly rinsed the brush with water, drying it as usual.

No animal funk is radiating from the bristles (I actually liked the smell of it new) and the hairs appear to the eye as both fluffy and dark. During the rinse, the brush held as much water as usual.

It seems to have worked.

3-6-08 Update:

I hadn’t really noticed anything to warrant the cleaning — no caked soap, and the brush seemed to hold as much water as ever. Was I ever wrong. During my first use after cleaning, there was a very noticeable difference. The brush held much more water, providing for a better lather. It’s one of those things where the degradation is so slow and gradual that you don’t notice it.