WD-40 Foaming Wash

WD-40 Foaming Wash

There came a point in my development as a mechanic where all those cure-alls to wrenching ills became as outmoded as the dial telephone. Vice grips were the first to go. Then 3-in-1 Oil. I determined the pipe wrench was more useful as a hammer than as a wrench. It was more precise in the role of the former than the latter, anyway. Somewhere along the line I concluded that WD-40 was a better solvent than lubricant, so while it didn’t lose its usefulness entirely, you might say it was downgraded.

More recently I learned that WD-40 has been innovating new products. Whereas it once had a product line of one, it now has an entire product line devoted to bicycles. Lubes, degreasers and even a frame protectant. I’ve tried them all at this point and while they seem to work well enough, the product that impressed me, the one I continue to use, the one I’ll have to buy more of when this sample runs out, is the foaming bike wash.

There are many ways to clean a bicycle. Most of them work. What I want is a way to make cleaning faster, more effortless. With the exception of properly degreasing a nasty drivetrain, this stuff is nearly miraculous. I give the bike a brief misting of water, spray it down with the wash, let it foam for a few seconds and then hose it all off. All that remains is wiping it down with a clean cloth, and even that last step is largely optional. I just prefer to get the bike dry sooner than later. There is so much salt in the air here it can cause a cat to corrode.

I’ve washed bikes a dozen times with this and haven’t finished the bottle. At $13.99 per liter bottle, that’s a pretty good deal.

, ,


  1. Dave King

    Sounds promising. I appreciate a product or technique that makes a mundane maintenance task less time consuming or more efficient.

    Have you tried it after rainy rides where the frame and rims are full of brake residue material? What about muddy mtn bikes? I have found that brake reside usually requires scrubbing from the rims and gentle washing from the frame. I would especially appreciate the former as I tend to want to clean the bike after a rainy ride but don’t relish the idea of spending 20 mins doing a thorough cleaning. This would help at those times – spray it on the frame and wheels, then clean the drive train, then rinse everything off.


    1. Author

      Dave King: While I know this to be wrong, the drought here in California has been going so long it feels as if the last time I rode in the rain was the ’98 el nino, so no, I haven’t used this for cleaning brake pad residue off rims following a rainy ride. And my mountain bike doesn’t really get muddy (re: drought), so all I clean off is dust. A bit of scrubbing is necessary for splashed materials, but even a sponge has been enough for me.

  2. Chris Bondus

    First off, Padraig, thanks for the kind words — we’re very proud of our products and it made my day to see your mention pop up on the twitter feed. I’ve been a long time fan of the blog!

    Dave, one of the keys to our Foaming Bike Wash is, as the name implies, the foaming action. We’ve found in all our testing, as well as with the thousands of bikes we’ve washed on the road with our demo program (at cx, road, and mtb events) over the past two years, that so long as you get a good lather going with a high quality brush, there shouldn’t be much left behind after you rinse. Of course, there are certain types of gunk and dirt that might require a second wash (soils with a lot of clay in them come to mind…), but for the most part one application should knock it out. As an added bonus (as far as mother nature’s concerned at least) both our Wash and Degreaser are not solvent or citrus-based (which means they’re safe to use on all frame materials, won’t harm expensive tires, or foul disc pads) and are biodegradable (which means they won’t kill the grass in your backyard).

    Brushes are something that aren’t paid enough attention to when it comes to bike care in my opinion – yes, there are a number of companies who make brushes for bike cleaning, but most are of the stiff, nylon bristle type and tend to be pretty cheap in construction. I’ve found the brushes you can buy from auto detail supply places to be the best available. A wide brush with bristles made from a natural material works best for the frame and wheels as it picks up less crap that can scratch the bike than a nylon brush will. Stiff, nylon bristles are best reserved for drivetrain cleaning.

    Thanks for your time, guys. Cheers,
    -Chris from WD40 Bike

    1. Dave King


      Thanks for the info. Esp about brushes. Looking forward to trying out the foaming wash.

  3. ifjeff

    Chris, thanks for the additional instructions on your product, will try it next time in place of the pink stuff I have. As a challenge to you and your peers and colleagues: a single wash spray, safe on all bike surfaces, minimal water demand, bio, sans elbow grease, sparkling drivetrain, scent of Chanel No 5. First to market wins.

  4. Les.B.

    I was surprised when I saw the WD-40 ad announcing these products. I thought of WD-40 as some staid old company that could only make the same product decade after decade, and I thought it a gutsy move to enter the bicycle market when there are already a plethora of suppliers. Proof is in the product, though.

    I currently use the frame protectant, which leaves a nice sheen on the bike. Spreads nicely and does not seem toxic like so many preparations sold these days. I’ll have to give this wash a try, looks good.

  5. Author

    Chris: Thanks so much for checking in. This is one of the things I really love about our comments section: that it gives the manufacturers a chance to interact with our readers. Now, about that tip on the natural brushes—thank you. It’s less the tip on the natural bristle brushes—I’ve been hearing that from pro mechanics for years—but it’s the finding them that’s so key. I come across them here or there, but they rarely have the right length or configuration. Everyone, note this well. I’ll be heading to an auto detailing shop near me later this week. The key here is that the natural bristles shed petroleum products so when you continue scrubbing, you’re not just moving blackened chain lube across your bike. Maybe WD-40 ought to be the first in the industry to offer a line of natural bristle bike-cleaning brushes? Corner the market.

  6. Joe

    How does it compare to Simple Green’s foaming spray?

    Also, what is the environmental impact of this cleaner? During CX season, my washing is usually on my lawn or in a park.

  7. Pat O'Brien

    I have been using the WD-40 dry formula chain lube on our mountain bikes for about 3 months now. It was recommended to us by our local bike shop, M&M Cycling. It works very well in our Arizona dusty conditions. Turtle Wax Express Shine car wax has been my last step in bike cleaning for years. Cleans any grease or lube the wash missed and leaves a great carnauba shine with no white residue left behind in the nooks and crannies of the frame. I do this as part of my final examination of the frame for any damage or cracks.

  8. Graham

    What’s the environmental impact of water displacement products? I’m thinking went these get washed into our storm sewer systems it’s probably pretty nasty stuff in our watersheds.


    1. Chris Bondus


      The original formula of WD40 Multi Use Product as well as both of the bike specific chain lubes we manufacture are petroleum-based, and are most definitely not biodegradable. Care should be used with any product like this to assure you’re capturing all the excess or “fling-off” while applying it.

      The Foaming Bike Wash is water based and contains a very mild mix of surfactants similar to a laundry detergent (though purpose built for cleaning bikes, not clothes). The US version of the product passes all the requirements for biodegradability. This is true of the degreaser as well.


  9. Author

    Joe: I used to swear by the Simple Green foaming cleaner. However, the third time the stuff corroded the inside of a can and it shot foaming cleaner all over the inside of my garage through a pinhole in the can, I stopped using it. This is the first stuff I’ve found that is in the same range of effectiveness.

    Graham: That’s a fair question, but one I don’t have an answer for. That sort of environmental reporting isn’t my bailiwick, so until someone else reports this contains something vaguely evil, I plan to keep using it; it’s a big improvement over kerosene, which is still the preferred cleaner for a great many European pro team mechanics.

    There’s a larger truth here, which is that while bicycles use and contain many materials which aren’t all that environmentally sound, they are, on balance, many thousands of times less evil than a car, from the materials used, to the exhaust and the materials used to clean and maintain them. If you’re on a bike, you’re way ahead of anyone driving a car, environmentally speaking, even if the bike isn’t perfect.

  10. Austin

    I’ll have to pick up some of this next time I’m out. My favorite chain degreaser is Pine Oil. Works miraculously.

  11. Tamar

    LOVED IT. After reading your review I ordered some. It arrived on Saturday and I tried it Sunday on my filthy bike. I just wet the bike, sprayed this all over (all over – frame, wheels, rims), then just rinsed the bike. After rinsing, I cleaned and lubed my drivetrain as usual. Bike looks sparkling clean and it was super easy. Thanks for a great recommendation.

  12. Pingback: Chainlinks: Best of the Bike Web, August 28, 2014 - Trail & Tarmac

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *