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April 12, 2019
Last modified: April 13, 2019

The early cycling season is officially here, which means muddy gravel rides, messy cross races and wet commutes. No matter what kind of riding you’re planning to do, it’s a great time to give your bike a good Spring cleaning. Every part of your bike a should get a thorough scrub to prevent unnecessary erosion and mechanical failure. This is especially true for your pedals, which tend to get blasted by loose gravel and caked in mud more than any other component. So, before you dust off your trusty steed, here’s a quick look at how to clean your bike pedals.

At a Glance

  1. Use low pressure water to remove mud, dirt and dust
  2. Clean nooks with a soft tool
  3. Dry, lube and re-grease
Yikes! Talk about being dragged through the mud!
Yikes! Talk about being dragged through the mud!

Muddy Buddies

You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? I’ll just spray my pedals with the hose and get back out there!” While that might be ok most of the time, a quick rinse can miss a lot of small particles that it’s important to deep clean your pedals at least once every year. There are two big reasons why you should give your pedals some extra care now and then.

The first is security. Clean pedals will simply do the best job at keeping your feet in place. If you’re using flat pedals, this means preventing grime from lubricating your pins or filling the concavities that were meant for your feet. On clipless pedals, this means keeping the claw mechanisms clear for your cleats to lock into. Any slippery materials on your pedals like mud or grass can cause slippage, and even dry stuff can cause sliding or get in the way. So, you should always keep them clean for maximum adherence and comfort.

The second reason is functionality. Your pedals are key, mechanical components that directly affect your performance. If any of these moving parts sticks or fails, you’ll be literally stuck. Clipless claw mechanisms can jam, and internal grit can cause grinding and even lock your pedals in place. Avoiding such a disaster is worth spending a little extra time cleaning your pedals before you ride. If you thing you’ve already got something in the bearings, check out our guide to removing and replacing your pedal spindles here.

Using low-preasure water keeps dirt and grease from being blasted around.
Using low-preasure water keeps dirt and grease from being blasted around.

No Pressure, Seriously

When it comes to cleaning pedals, a gentle hand is key. For example, using a high-pressure spay hose can actually blow particles past the seals and into the bearings. Extensive water use can even wash grease out of essential areas, leaving the exposed metal to corrode. Instead, use a low-pressure water source to soften any stuck dirt and then remove it with a cloth or by hand. In some cases, you may want to remove your pedals from the bike for easier access. This also gives you an opportunity to inspect the pedals for damage and to re-grease the spindle threads, both of which should be done once or twice per year.

Tools and Techniques

To clean your pedals, the most basic things you’ll need are a gentle source of water (like a bottle, or bucket and sponge), a cloth or paper towel to dry things off with, and a small scrubbing tool. Soft tools like old paint or tooth brushes can be useful for getting dirt out if the nooks and crannies of smaller pedals. If you plan on cleaning your pedals regularly, you can find more specialized options at your local bike shop. We also recommend getting a dry bike lubricant (like Finish Line or Teflon) to further insulate and protect any mechanical parts. If you plan on removing your pedals before cleaning them, you’ll find everything that you’ll need to know here.

Use a soft brush to clear dirt or mud out of every nook and cranny.
Use a soft brush to clear dirt or mud out of every nook and cranny.

Step by Step

Now that we’ve gone over the importance of keeping your pedals clean and what you’ll need to do it, here is how to properly clean your bike pedals:

How to Clean Your Dirty Bike Pedals:

  1. Secure your bike in a stand or remove the dirty pedals from the crank arms
  2. Use a low-pressure water source to dampen and weaken debris
  3. Use a small, soft tool to clean springs, claws, and other tight spaces
  4. Thoroughly dry each pedal a touch up paint chips or damage as necessary
  5. Re-lubricate any moving mechanism or springs using a dry lube spray
  6. Grease spindle threads and re-install onto crank arms

Regular cleaning will keep your pedals looking and feeling as good as new. For more pedal maintenance guides and “How-Tos”, be sure to check back here soon.