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WD-40 All-Purpose Bike Wash Review

June 7, 2019

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WD-40 All-Purpose Bike Wash Review

WD-40 All-Purpose Bike Wash Review
4.6

Summary

WD-40’s All-Purpose Bike Wash is the only formula also advertised as a dry lube, wet lube, and chain degreaser among popular competitors.

It’s competitively priced, comes with highly positive online rider feedback, is manufactured by a reputable company, and based on my experience, works exactly as advertised.

  • Availability
  • Ease of Use
  • Cleaning Effectiveness
  • Price
  • Overall Value

Pros

  • Widely available online and at local bike shops
  • Comes with a fairly competitive price
  • Easy to use
  • Sodium Tripolyphosphate formula cleans effectively
  • Non-damaging to bicycle parts and doesn’t leave behind residue
  • A little goes a long way
  • Trusted name in bicycle care

Cons

  • Higher price than some competing formulas
  • You get less for your money than some third-party bike washes
  • Spray trigger can make your hands tired
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About WD-40 All-Purpose Bike Wash

WD-40 All-Purpose Bike Wash features a fast-acting, biodegradable formula that promises to powerfully dissolve all dirt, mud, and grime from your ride and leave it sparkling clean.

Still, they advertise it’s safe for multiple surfaces, including carbon fiber, aluminum, steel, titanium, chrome, rubber, and plastics. All you have to do is spray down your bike using the wash’s ergo handle trigger bottle, and it will immediately go to work getting rid of the gunk that can cause premature component wear, or lead to scratching on other surfaces on your bike.

With its professional, fast-acting, and quick-and-easy formula, WD-40 All-Purpose Bike Wash seems to offer a lot of necessary features. But, it’s also up against several competing formulations from equally trusted brands.

Here, I’ll combine research with firsthand experience to help you decide if it’ll deliver the most bang-for-your-buck.

How WD-40 All-Purpose Bike Wash Works

According to the instructions on the 24-ounce ergo handle trigger bottle, you’ll start by rinsing your bike with water, selecting stream or spray, and then coating surfaces with undiluted Bike Wash. If you have excess or stubborn dirt or grime present, you can loosen it with a clean sponge or soft brush at this time.

Once applied, the wash’s surfactants go to work. According to UL Prospector, these materials “lower the surface tension (or interfacial tension) between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid.”

In layman’s terms, they cause dirt, grime, and other debris to release from your bike and make them much easier for you to wipe away.

According to the materials safety data sheet (MSDS) listed on the WD-40 website, All-Purpose Bike Wash contains the surfactant Sodium Tripolyphosphate (1-5%, nonhazardous), which helps quickly release dirt and grime from your bike’s different surfaces. Credit: WD-40 Company

After you’ve addressed all areas sufficiently, rinse your bike thoroughly again to ensure that all dirt and grime is removed. While doing so, WD-40 emphasizes you should avoid spraying water directly into your bike’s hubs, bottom bracket, and headset.

Alternately, if your bike is only dusty with no stuck-on dirt, you can quickly clean it by spraying All-Purpose Bike Wash directly onto surfaces and wiping it away with a clean cloth.

My Experience With WD-40 All-Purpose Bike Wash

All-Purpose Bike Wash’s trigger spray works well and puts liquid right where I want it, although its stiff squeeze can quickly make my hand tired.

Fortunately, this isn’t a frequent occurrence, since a little bit of the formula goes a long way. I’ve never dry-washed any of my bikes, but it suds nicely after wetting surfaces and easily breaks up and removes dirt and grime after minimal soaking and scrubbing with a rag, sponge, or brush (I’m fond of the Park Tool soft bristle soaping brush).

Once cleaning is finishing, All-Purpose rinses away using fresh, clean water and doesn’t leave behind any noticeable residue or impact my bikes’ finishes.

With so many chemicals in our lives, I appreciate the fact that All-Purpose Bike Wash uses only one surfactant—Sodium Tripolyphosphate, which is also commonly used as a food preservative, especially for seafood. Even as someone with especially sensitive skin, I’ve never experienced reactions when exposing cuts and scrapes to it during post-ride washes.

I like that WD-40 is a trusted name in the cycling industry and that their All-Purpose Bike Wash is formulated for professionals. But, while a little goes a long way, it comes with a higher price than some competitors.

On the flipside, the formula is a bit steeply priced compared to competing bike washes (more soon). Still, even with our family’s five-bike stable, I’ve found that one 24-ounce bottle will last several months so that the real-world differences might work out to pennies per wash.

Finally, All-Purpose Bike Wash freezes, so you’ll need to keep it in a conditioned environment during the colder months. If it accidentally freezes, though, I’ve found it works perfectly fine after allowing it to thaw.

Are There Other Spray-On Bicycle Washes Like WD-40 All-Purpose?

There are a handful of bike washes competing with WD-40’s All-Purpose Formula, including those that also use surfactants to quickly loosen, lift, and remove dirt, grime, mud, and dust from your bike.

Most also advertise their formulas are also safe for all bike parts, biodegradable, and can be used without water for quick cleaning dusty bikes. Here are some of the most popular options on Amazon, along with how they compare:

Brand Price/Quantity Active Ingredient(s) Average Amazon Rating Notes
WD-40 All-Purpose Bike Wash $10, 24 oz Sodium Tripolyphosphate  (1–5%) 4.2 stars, 30 reviews Also promises to work as a dry lube, wet lube, and chain degreaser
Finish Line Super Bike Wash $13, 1 L (33.8 oz) Proprietary 3.9 stars, 180 reviews Also contains 2 rust and oxidation inhibitors 
Muc-Off Nano Tech Bike Cleaner $14.99, 1 L (33.8 oz) Tetrasodium Ethylene Diamine Tetraacetate and Alcohols, C12-14, Ethoxylated Sulfates, Sodium Salts 4.4 stars, 25 reviews Nano Tech Formula promises to clean on a molecular level
Simple Green Bike Cleaner & Degreaser $7, 20 oz Ethoxylated Alcohol, Sodium Citrate, Tetrasodium N, N-bis(carboxymethyl)-L-glutamate, Sodium Carbonate, Citric Acid, Isothiazolinone Mixture 4.2 stars, 96 reviews Foaming action, made in the USA
White Lightning Bike Wash & Shine $13, 24 oz Unknown (contains Carnauba Wax) 4.5 stars, 125 reviews 100% biodegradable

Since all of these formulas use surfactants to help quickly and easily clean your bike, choosing the right option for will probably come down to a combination of secondary factors like the price, online customer feedback, and special features not found in other formulas.

For example, at $13 for one liter, Finish Line’s Super Wash might offer the greatest volume for the least amount of money, followed closely by Muc-Off. It’s also the only option in the table above that advertises a formula with two different rust and oxidation inhibitors, which might be especially important if you own any steel bicycles.

However, Finish Line comes the lowest average Amazon rating among the group, whereas White Lightening and Muc-Off come in first and second place, respectively.

Together, we can see that WD-40’s All-Purpose Bike Wash comes with a competitive—although somewhat higher—price, mostly positive online customer feedback, a single, nonhazardous active surfactant in its formula, and is also the only option among popular competitors that also advertises as a dry lube, wet lube, and chain degreaser.

But, does this mean you should go ahead and make a purchase? Let’s come to a conclusion.

Bottom Line: Is WD-40 All-Purpose Bike Wash Right for You?

Based on my experience, it’s difficult to go wrong with a bicycle-specific washing formula—especially among popular options sold via online retailers like Amazon.

But, personal preferences dictate that you might appreciate formulas that smell a certain way, feature foaming (or non-foaming) action, come in ready-to-use spray bottles vs. concentrates that need to be mixed, or a host of other factors.

After using WD-40’s All-Purpose Bike Wash for a couple of years, though, I’ve found it cleans fantastically, is widely available locally if I run out and need to pick some up quickly, and comes with a low price from a manufacturer I can trust. Overall, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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>> Keep rolling: Must-Have Bike Accessories for Beginners

Derek is an avid cyclist with more than two decades of experience in the sport, and currently resides in Denver, Colorado. He enjoys all types, including road, MTB, cyclocross/gravel, commuting, and touring. When he's not writing reviews and guides related to bike accessories, parts, and gear for TreadBikely.com, he's riding, talking about cycling, or thinking about bikes he can't afford. #rolloutblissout
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