How To Clean Bike Tires?

We sometimes underestimate the importance of having clean tires on our bikes and fail to bring in the necessary effort. Why do we need to clean bicycle tires? Who doesn’t want a bike that is both attractive and functional?

Also, the bike’s clean tires improve the vehicle’s lifespan and also make repairs easier. Cleaning these tires, on the other hand, is a difficult task for many people.

This is sometimes due to the fact that it seems to be an additional task that does not require urgent focus but requires a significant amount of work. We’re here to walk you through some of the most crucial steps in washing your bicycle tires.

Getting to Know the Bike Tires

Before you get down to business, you must familiarize yourself with what you are going to clean. In this case, it is the bike tire system.

Related reading: Do Bike Trainers Ruin Tires?

The Bike Tire

The bike tire consists of main rubber, enclosed by a fabric case. In this casing, the bike tire sits on a rim. The tire can vary in size, and suit the diameter dimensions of your bike wheels (for instance- 26, 27, or 29 inches). The tires can also differ in width or threads.

The Tube inside the Bike Tire

This tube is what you can find inside the tire. The dimension of the tube is usually written on the sidewalls of the tire (diameter x width).

What Do You Need to Clean the Tires?

Now that we know the bike tire, let us make a note of all the items you need to be able to clean it well. These are:

  • A bucket – size can be the same as the one you use for household chores: this will be needed to hold hot water
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • A sponge
  • A floor brush- sufficiently hard
  • A non-lint cloth
  • Some alcohol
  • A shiner for the tires – you may choose your favorite
  • A pair of hand gloves (optional)

What Shiner to Use?

Since making your bicycle look good or shine is one of the most important goals for many, it is useful to delve into the shiners to use for the tires. There are quite some great products in this regard. We can divide them into three categories: Household, Commercial, and Natural Shines.

Household Shines for Bike Tires

These are products that are most commonly used and available for cleaning your bike tires. You can use almost every household cleaner, keeping in mind that it contains lemon as one of the constituents. By this, we mean both all-purpose kitchen cleaners and bathroom cleaners. These are also quite affordable.

Some people also like to use commercial cleaners for car tires. Though those are more suited to car tires, they can give your desired shine to the bike tire without much effort.

Commercial Shines for Bike Tires

Though we are talking about bike tires, you should be aware that commercial shines are more widely available for car tires. You can get these shines in almost every automotive store. They are quite easy to use and give the durable shine to your bicycle tires pretty fast, and without needing much wiping from your end.

These cleaners are specifically designed to clean as well as shine the rubber. Hence, these will dry fast and also last long. However, there is one con to it. These commercial shines constitute of chemical and industrial ingredients, like petroleum distillates. These can be detrimental to people, causing skin irritation to people of all ages. Not to forget, it is harmful to the environment as well.

Natural Shines for Bike Tires

This refers to the cleaning or shining products that are made naturally or at home. They are the most sustainable and safest alternatives to the chemical products out there. It will also cost you the least. You can use ingredients from your kitchen to make these shiners. One example is castor oil- it gives the perfect shine to your bike tires.

The Cleaning Business

Now that we have gotten the basics down, let us get down to the part where we go through the steps of cleaning the bike tires.

  1. Fill up the bucket with warm water
  2. Add the dishwashing liquid, also known as the fairy liquid soap
  3. Mix the two for a few minutes.
  4. Dip the sponge into the mixture.
  5. Start making the entire tire wet using the sponge.
  6. Manually scrub the tires in a circular motion- this will make sure that all of the residue as well as the dirt from the tire, gets removed. Why is this necessary? Well, these residues affect the shining of the tire later.
  7. Once done, wipe with a wet cloth, followed by a dry cloth.
  8. Let the bicycle tires completely dry after the cleaning is done.
  9. You can then get to the shining business.

Sounds easy, right? You must bear in mind that rubber makes up a big part of the bike tire. And hence, this rubber contains a huge amount of dirt.

Hence, you should concentrate your efforts on cleaning this rubber well. You can use a biodegradable cleaner in the place of the dishwashing liquid if you want to act a little more responsibly towards the environment. The more bubbly foams you see, the better it will be.

You can use a hard brush (as mentioned in our section of what you will need to clean) to be efficient in gathering up all the dirt. You can then also remove all the sticky mud.

However, you need to be a little careful when it comes to the valve of the tire. You should refrain from bending the valve at all. A good practice is to use a dust cap on top of this valve. This will ensure that no dirt gets to enter the valve or clog up anything there.

In case you still do not have this cap, you need to take a closer look at this region to remove the dirt that has accumulated.

As soon as you are done lathering up, you can simply rinse the bike tire up with water. You may want to repeat this part of the process one more time until you are satisfied with the cleaning.

After you have dried the wheel, check if you have missed any part of the tire or if you have damaged any part while cleaning. You can take a look at the rubber and casing of the tire or whether there is any kind of crack or anything stuck in the tire.

Related reading: How To Deflate A Bike Tire?

Do You Also Want it to Shine?

After your bicycle tire has dried, you can go towards make it shine. But before that, you will need to strip off the older shine or polish on the tire. How to do so?

  1. Spray the little amount of alcohol we asked you to gather earlier. This will help to get rid of any old shine. How strongly does this alcohol need to be? Well, that depends on how much old polish you have on the tire body.
  2. You can add some water to the alcohol and then spray it if you want it to be a little less concentrated. You need to spray at a constant rate to ensure you cover all the spots.
  3. Wipe this off with a cloth (recommended cloth material: microfiber).
  4. Allow the tires to dry completely
  5. Take the shiner of your choice and start coating each section of the bicycle tire using a non-lint cloth to rub the shiner into the tire
  6. Work around the tires at a constant rate to ensure that you are covering all the spots
  7. Allow the tires to dry completely

After you have followed the aforementioned cleaning and shining steps, you can embrace the complete newness of your tires. We will recommend using homemade products, such as castor oil if you are trying to shine your bicycle tires on a budget. You can of course opt for commercial products to try out what you like more.

Some oils can destroy rubbers. So make sure you do not compromise with what shine you are using on the tire.

Related reading: Can You Use a Bike Pump On a Car Tire?

How to Clean White Bike Tires?

It can be a challenge to clean up white bike tires, ensuring that they shine just as new or white as they were to start with. One of the most effective way is to use a nylon bristle brush to softly scrub through the tire. The Soft Scrub cleaner or Spray Nine can be great options in this regard.  You can try to add some bleach to it to see if it works wonders.

Related reading: What Should I Do When Bike Tire Will Not Inflate And Will Not Take Air?

How to Clean Colored Bike Tires?

If your bicycle tires are quite bright in colour, it can be useful to use a citrus based degreaser cleaner. Zep and Simply Green are such cleaners available readily. You will simply need to spray it on, allow it to soak, scrub it well and wash it off. The rest of the process should be followed similar to the way you clean regular bike tires.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should I Clean my Bicycle Tires?

If you want to enjoy a smooth bike ride with a long-lasting efficiency, you need to ensure that the vehicle is free from any built-up of dust and dirt that can lead to wear and tear of your bicycle tires. Hence, cleaning bike tires is imperative. It is also a good idea to make sure the bike and the tires are clean before you transport your bike.

Concluding Remarks

It is important to keep your bicycle tires clean if you want them to keep performing at their best and to be your companion for a long time. There are several choices you can make in terms of the ingredients and optional shining of the tires.

But, the most important takeaway will be to pay attention to your bicycle tires and to clean them regularly. It can be a great activity to do outdoors with family and friends as well.

However, do not let the excitement overtake your attention- some parts of the bike tire, like the valve or a crack on the tire, can be fragile and you putting too much force while cleaning can worsen the condition.

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