Toothbrush Chain Cleaner!

By | April 14, 2016

Toothbrush Chain Cleaner!  

Last week a saw a video of household tips posted to a couple of cycling related Facebook pages.  It contained a number of invaluable household hacks designed to make my life better.  I do not remember most of them, but the second tip showed a bike chain cleaning tool made from two old toothbrushes.  (If someone is familiar with the video, please send me a link).  Eureka!  What a great idea!  This is one life hack I had to try myself.  Here are the lovely details.


Here we have the everything necessary for your own chain cleaning tool.  I have a couple old toothbrushes, electrical tape (it doesn’t have to be orange) and an old CO2 canister.


Start by taping your toothbrushes together at the base.  Since my toothbrushes are Reach toothbrushes, the heads are much too close together to be convenient or useful.


This is where I had to get creative.  I found that a AA battery would open up the space between the toothbrush heads, but it was still too narrow to be functional.  Eventually I settled on a used CO2 canister.


Taping the CO2 canister into place left a gap, but this is easily narrowed with a squeeze between the thumb and index finger.  Depending on the size of your hands and the placement of the CO2 canister, the chain cleaning tool actually fits quite comfortably in your hand.

Now for the cleaning! 


I tested my new chain cleaning tool on my new Masi.  It is under a month old, and to be honest, the chain was not that dirty.


Start by dipping your chain cleaning tool in a good quality degreaser.  I use Park Tool’s CB-4 Bio Chainbrite.  I decanted a little degreaser into an old ice cream lid.  (A sawed off water bottle may work better).


Then hold the tool over the chain, squeeze the toothbrush heads together and then backpedal with the other hand.  This is a job best performed outside as it is a bit messy.  I splattered all over my freshly cleaned frame.  Next time I will try draping a small rag over my hand to stop the splatter.


Be sure to clean the chain both ways.  Holding the tool with the bristles horizontally cleans the chain plates.  Holding the tool with the bristles vertically cleans the rollers (most critical).


While you are at it, you should take another toothbrush and clean your chainrings!  A clean drivetrain is a happy drivetrain.  I cleaned my cassette earlier as described in the deep clean post.

Wipe down the chain and any other parts cleaned with the degreaser.  Rinse with a little water and wipe them down again and let dry.  This is also a good time to clean your pricey new chain cleaning tool!

Apply new lube after the chain has dried.  (I reapplied before my next ride to ensure full coverage).  This is the chain lube I have been using and loving lately.

How did it work?

After building the toothbrush chain cleaning tool, the whole cleaning process could be accomplished in under 5 minutes excluding drying time.  I could easily see myself doing this after a ride before putting my bike away.  It got my chain much cleaner than the old wipe and almost as clean as removing the chain and shaking it in a bottle of degreaser.  I am actually really pleased with how well this worked!  I think my new toothbrush chain cleaning tool will remain a part of my bike maintenance routine.





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