How Do You Clean Sand Off a Mountain Bike? [7 Simple Steps]

Have you got a mountain bike that you love riding in hilly places, off-road trails, and cross country paths?

As exhilarating and fun as riding your mountain bike can be, it is also an extremely messy activity. Riding on muddy roads and through vegetation or rocky areas means you end up with lots of sand, dirt, and debris on the bike and yourself.

While you can chuck your biking clothes into the washer and take a quick shower for yourself, your bike needs a good cleaning too! If you’re wondering how to clean your bike, how often you should clean it, and any other questions about keeping your bike in great condition, read on ahead for everything you need to know.

Schwinn Bonafide Mens Mountain Bike, Front Suspension, 24-Speed, 29-Inch Wheels, 17-Inch Aluminum Frame, Matte Black/Red

How to Clean Sand, Dirt, and Debris Off Your Mountain Bike

Riding your mountain bike on different terrains means getting lots of stray sand, dirt, and debris stuck on different parts of the bike. Most often, you’ll find that the wheel rims, the disk rotors, the chains, and other mechanical parts of the mountain bike collect the most sand and dirt. 

The best way to clean your bike and get sand and dirt out of every crevice is by washing it and then allowing it to dry it off. Here is the best way to wash your bike in seven simple steps:

1. Find a Place to Wash the Bike

The first thing you need to do is find and prepare a space to wash your bike. An outdoor space with easy drainage is ideal. An indoor space would be okay, too, as long as you keep the bike away from walls or furniture that might get splashed on.

Ensure that the space is big enough for your bike and yourself to fit in comfortably and that you have enough light, too.

Additionally, it would be great to have a bike stand to keep your bike away from the ground and any walls. This way, there won’t be any splashback on your bike.

Read How To Clean a Road Bike After Riding in the Rain

2. Gather All Your Materials

Next, you want to get all of your materials together. You’ll need water, either from a hose or from a bucket. You will also need either a bike cleaner or a bike degreaser.

Get together a couple of brushes of different sizes and a few cloth rags. Lastly, you’ll need some chain lubricant and bike grease.

3. Do the First Rinse with Water

You want to start cleaning your mountain bike by giving it a rinse with plain, room-temperature water. You can use a bucket to dump water all over the bike or use a regular garden hose.

It is essential to keep the water pressure low to avoid washing away grease from the bike that is necessary for keeping sand, dirt, or anything else from penetrating the bearings.

Additionally, if the water pressure is too high, you might accidentally dislodge sand or dirt and get it stuck into any other crevices on the bike.

If you’re using a hose, keep it in the shower setting. Avoid the jet setting and try to stand a few feet away from the bike as you rinse it. As you move closer to the bike, you can switch to an even lower pressure setting like mist.

Schwinn High Timber ALX Youth/Adult Mountain Bike, Aluminum Frame and Disc Brakes, 26-Inch Wheels, 21-Speed, Red/Black

Read How to Clean Dirt Bike Air Filter

4. Get Scrubbing

Once the bike has been rinsed, a lot of the sand and dirt will have come off already. Now it’s time to get scrubbing.

Apply some bike degreaser to the drivetrain, including the chain, the chainrings, and the cassette. Let the degreaser sit for a few minutes while you start to soap up and scrub the rest of the bike.

Use some bike cleaner on the body of the bike and rub it in with a brush. A bigger brush will work well for the bike’s frame, and a medium-sized brush with stiffer bristles will work well for small crevices and harder-to-reach spots.

You can then use a small brush to brush out the drivetrain and any other spots that have been left.

5. Do A Final Rinse

Now that you’re done scrubbing, you’ve probably got the majority of the sand, dirt, and other debris off the bike, as well as any extra grease in places where it shouldn’t be.

What you need to do now is rinse away any leftover cleaner and degreaser. The final rinse should be done the same way you did the first rinse, keeping a close eye on the water’s pressure level.

If you wanted to, you could also scrub your mountain bike tires with a brush and some bike cleaner. However, your tires will likely become caked with sand or mud the next time you go riding anyway.

So just two rinses with water should be good enough. It’s up to you whether you give the tires some extra attention.

If you’re planning on using the bike again in a day or two, skip the tires. If the bike will be sitting in your garage for a few weeks, you can scrub the tires too.

Read How to Clean A Mountain Bike Chain

6. Let the Bike Dry Completely

Once your mountain bike is completely clean, bounce it on its wheels a few times to shake off excess water. Then you need to ensure that you dry the bike thoroughly.

You can wipe it down completely with some clean cloth rags, paying extra attention to the metal parts of the bike, the drivetrain, and the chain. After that, you can leave the bike out in the sun and wind for around half an hour.

Mongoose Malus Adult Fat Tire Mountain Bike, 26-Inch Wheels, 7-Speed, Twist Shifters, Steel Frame, Mechanical Disc Brakes, Silver/Black

7. Finish Off with Some Lubricant

After your bike is completely dry, the very last step is to do a complete lube job. You should apply lube to the derailleurs, the chain, and other moving parts. There are a few different types of lube you can choose from, such as wet, dry, or ceramic.

This will depend on the kind of terrain and conditions you usually ride your mountain bike in.

Apply a generous amount of lube to the chain and pedal backward as you squeeze the lube onto the chain so that all of it is sufficiently covered. It would help if you backpedalled around four to six times to ensure the chain is well lubed.

After that, you can wipe off any excess lube with a clean rag because the excess lube can cause dirt to build up in the drivetrain.

And that’s it! You’re all done, and your bike will be shiny, clean, and feel brand new. Good luck with the process, and we’re sure you’ll do a great job if you follow the seven steps we have outlined for you.

Read ahead for the answers to some other common questions people have regarding cleaning their mountain bikes.

Read How to Clean A Rusty Bike Chain?

Can You Use Dish Soap to Clean Your Bike?

One of the most common questions asked when washing a bike is what kind of soap should be used. Our first suggestion would be a bike cleaner as long as it does not have any harsh or dangerous chemicals.

You can ask your bike shop or your bike mechanic if they have any recommendations. If you think your bike cleaner is too strong, you can dilute it with some water.

People also wonder if they should skip out the bike cleaner altogether and use dish soap instead. That’s actually a great alternative.

A mild grease removing dish soap like Dawn Dishwashing Liquid can work very well in cleaning your bike. Dawn soap is cheap and readily available at most stores. It also does a great job of removing dirt and grease from your bike.

If you do end up using dish soap, remember to wash it off thoroughly and then dry and lube the bike when you’re done.

Hiland 26 Inch Mountain Bike Aluminum Frame 21 Speed MTB Bicycle with Suspension Fork

Read How To Clean a Bike Chain with Household Products

What Is the Best Way to Dry My Mountain Bike After Washing It?

Our preferred method of drying a mountain bike after a wash is by first bouncing it on its wheels a few times to shed off most of the water, followed by a wipe down with a rag. Then you can leave the bike out in the sun for a while, and it should dry out perfectly.

If you’re feeling a bit impatient, or maybe it’s a cloudy and humid day out, you can even take the bike out for a ride around the block. Riding the bike on the road won’t get it dirty again, and the wind from riding can help dry it out quickly. You may need to take a few rounds of the block to get it dry enough.

Some people also like to use a hairdryer to dry out the bike’s mechanical parts like the bolt heads and the drivetrain.

However, a hairdryer likely wouldn’t do a good job of blowing all of the water out because it wouldn’t be powerful enough. You might end up wasting a lot of time using a hairdryer on your bike.

Alternatively, you can use a leaf blower if you have one lying around in your yard. A leaf blower will provide you with more strength than a regular hairdryer. 

Ultimately, though, there’s nothing better than using a rag and letting the sun do its job.

Read How to Clean an Electric Bike

How Often Should You Clean Your Mountain Bike?

How often you need to clean your mountain bike is another common question we hear a lot. A simple answer would be to clean your bike after a long and hard ride, or if you want to stick to a round figure, after every 100 miles.

However, the honest answer depends on how often you use your bike and the kind of terrain you’re riding on.

If you only ride your bike on a dry dirt road every other week, you can easily go a month or two without having to wash the bike.

A simple wipe down with a dry rag should be enough to get off any dry sand or dirt. If you ride your bike very often on long rides and in water and muddy terrain, you should probably wash your bike after every ride.

Additionally, if your bike is dirty and you plan on riding it again the next day in similar conditions, you can probably hold off on washing it and avoid having to wash it twice in a row.

However, if your bike is dirty and you plan on keeping it away in your garage for the next few weeks, it would be a good idea to wash it before putting it away. Leaving a dirty bike unused for a long time can cause parts to rust or become damaged.

Mongoose Impasse Mens Mountain Bike, 29-Inch Wheels, Aluminum Frame, Twist Shifters, 21-Speed Rear Deraileur, Front and Rear Disc Brakes, Silver

Read How To Clean a Mountain Bike

What Other Maintenance Does a Mountain Bike Need?

Other than keeping your bike clean and lubricating the chain and drivetrain, there are some additional maintenance steps you can take. Before every ride, you should check the tire pressure lube, wipe the chain, and ensure the wheels and hub are uncompromised.

After three to five rides, you should get your brake pads and bolt tensions checked. It would help if you also had your chain checked out and checked for any wear or strain. If the chain seems worn out, it should be replaced.

Lastly, you should get complete bike maintenance done at the bike mechanics every few months. This will include servicing all the mechanical parts of the bike as well as the frame. 

Our Final Thoughts

A mountain bike is made to withstand difficult terrain and wet, muddy roads. Don’t worry too much about getting your bike dirty, and just enjoy the ride.

Washing your bike is relatively easy and doesn’t even take too long, so don’t let a bit of sand, dirt, or debris deter you. Just follow the simple seven steps we have outlined and take the bike for a service if you think it’s necessary, and you should be good to go!

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