How to Clean A Bike Cassette with Simple DIY Methods?

An old grimy, dirty bike cassette would mean disaster for the chain and bike’s rear derailleur. So, as much as every biker loves cleaning the bike’s chain or other parts of the drivetrain, a bike cassette should not be ignored.

Just know for now that cleaning the cassette could be done both quickly and deeply. And in this article, we’ll tell you exactly how.

How to Clean Bike Cassette in Simple and Easy Steps?

Things You’ll Need

Gather all these supplies and get started with the first method mentioned as follow:

Step 1: Remove Rear Wheel from the Bike

You cannot clean an MTB’s cassette effectively while the rear wheel remains tucked into the bicycle. Remove the rear wheel by removing the quick-release axle for the effective cleaning of the cassette.

Step 2: Position Yourself

Place the wheel in between your legs so that the cassette points outside and that you can easily access it.

Properly lock the wheel between your thighs as you will need to move the cassette repeatedly to remove the dirt and grime.

Step 3: Pour Degreaser into a Small Bowl

Pour a few drops of degreaser into a small bowl. If you do not have any dish or bowl, put the degreaser on the toothbrush and scrub the cassette carefully.

Step 4: Scrub the Rear Cassette

Get started with the smaller jockey wheels and move up once you thoroughly scrub it off. If the dirt and stains are too stubborn, you can use a degreaser again.

Your only goal must be to make the dirt loose, so it easily comes off. So even if it takes a tad longer, scrub it well.

Step 5: Use the Rag In Between the Sprockets

The next step is somewhat tricky, but you can do it with attention and focus on the cassette. After scrubbing all cogs with the toothbrush, take the old rag and stick it between the sprockets.

Move the cassette clockwise and keep the cloth stuck inside the sprocket. You will see that the rag will start catching all the dirt. Start from smaller sprockets and move upwards accordingly to properly clean all the sprockets on the bike’s cassette.

Keep repeating the process until you clean all sprockets of the cassette successfully.

Step 6: Take Care of the Rubbish Fallen on the Floor

Start unclogging the cassette in a garage (or you will have a furious wife to deal with). Make sure that you are taking care of the rubbish falling on the floor as it can make things look bad for you later.

Step 7: Use Pipe Cleaners Between Sprockets

A pipe cleaner can penetrate deep inside the sprocket and remove the rubbish, which is impossible with the cleaning rag. So, please take out a pipe cleaner and move it inside the sprocket as you did with sticking the rag.

Move from smaller to larger cogs, and you’ll see your cassette getting cleaned properly while sticking all the dirt and grease on the pipe cleaner.

The story does not end here!

Step 8: Cleaning Out the Sprocket Holes

Tiny holes in the bicycle cassette sprockets would also require proper cleaning as they can easily catch all the dirt and grime while riding your bike on a rainy day.

To clean them out, insert one end of a pipe cleaner between the holes and move it back and forth to remove all the dirt and grime stuck in them.

Do this with all sprocket holes until the cassette looks stain and dirt-free at the same time.

Step 9: Automatically Cleaning the Hub Shell

To keep the hub shell of the cassette maintained and cleaned enough, wrap a new pipe cleaner around it. Keep the pipe cleaner not too tight or not too loose, as you’d have to make it move while you ride your bike.

Attach your rear wheel back to the bike, and while it moves, the pipe cleaner will keep on moving, thus keeping the hub shell cleaned and maintained simultaneously.

Step 10: Clean and Degrease Bike’s Chain

Before connecting the chain with the cassette again, ensure that the dirty chain is adequately cleaned and degreased. This way, the cassette will remain cleaned enough for a long time.

How to Deep Clean a Bike’s Cassette?

Usually, there won’t be a need to do the deep cleaning, especially if you take care of removing dirt from the cassette every once a month.

However, a thorough cleaning is a must if you have not cleaned your bike’s cassette for ages.

In that case, you will need to remove the cassette from the rear wheel. So the supplies will include:

  • Cassette removal tool such as an SRAM. If you own a Campagnolo cassette, make sure you have a Campy cassette tool.
  • A chain whip
  • Lockring tool
  • Wrench
  • Cleaning rag 
  • Chain Lube
  • Toothbrush

Step 1: Detach Rear Wheel from the Bike

Detach the rear wheel from the bike if you want to remove the cassette from the wheel altogether.

Step 2: Removing the Cassette

First of all, place and align your cassette tool into the splines of the cassette. Put a chain whip on it to ensure that the handle is on the left side.

The chain will thus correctly wrap around the cassette and allow you to put a wrench on it. Untwist the cassette accordingly.

Step 3: Start Cleaning

You can soak the whole bicycle cassette in degreaser solution and let it loose all the dirt and grime. We’d suggest keeping the cassette submerged in the degreaser for about 30 minutes.

Similarly, scrub it properly with a toothbrush and then use a cleaning rag and pipe cleaners to remove dirt in between the cogs and sprocket holes.

Related: How Often Should You Degrease Bike Chain

Step 4: Re-attach the Cassette:

Re-attaching the bicycle cassette to the bike is a little bit tricky.

While you attach it again to the rear wheel, ensure that you don’t forget the spacers between the gears.

The gears can only align with the freehub in the correct position. If you have separated the cogs, make sure that you install them from largest to smallest to avoid any problems.

Tighten the cassette lockring sufficiently but do not exceed the limit, or else it would result in damage.

Step 5: Enjoy Riding with a Clean Cassette

Put the rear wheel back on the bike and ensure degreasing the dirty chain before putting it on the cassette. A clean chain will keep the cassette maintained for a long time. 

Take your bike for a ride with a clean cassette, and you’ll see how smooth and effortless the pedaling experience gets as you cruise along the way.

People Also Ask:

Can you put degreaser on cassette?

Degreasers contain chemicals that effectively remove stubborn dirt particles from the cassette. We’d suggest applying it on a toothbrush and then scrubbing it on the cassette to get ideal results. You can also soak the cassette entirely into the degreaser if you have detached it from the rear wheel. It will make the cleaning process much more efficient.

Should I use WD-40 to clean the bike cassette?

Yes, you can. WD-40 is one of the most effective water-based degreasers that can remove stains and dirt particles from different bike parts. 

What do you soak a cassette in?

A WD-40 is a suitable option in that case. Pour it into a bowl, and you can soak a cassette in it for a while. It will make all contaminants lose, and you can thus clean it out using a rag or pipe cleaners.

Final Takeaways:

If not taken care bike cassettes can wear out over time and stop working.

That said, this part of the drivetrain could cost you a handful of money, so why cry about it when you can keep it cleaned to enhance its longevity?

Follow all the guidelines we have mentioned above regarding cleaning your mountain bike cassette to enjoy a smooth and hassle-free ride.

Good Luck!!

Photo of author
Written By Robert Gibbons
From riding to school since the age of 13, attending BMX races and events with his dad to himself conquering 50+ trails across the globe. For Rob, his Giant Stance 29 2 2020 is the friend that makes everything better. He is also a proud member of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

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