Winter can be a tough time for bike cleaning, especially on the cassettes, the cluster of sprockets located on the rear hub of your bike.

Cassettes provide a range of gearing options for your chain to run on. The range of gear ratios allows you to vary your pedaling revolutions per minute in order to achieve optimal efficiency.

Not only can normal grime and grit get in there from road surfaces, but you may also pick up salt or sand used to melt ice and snow from road surfaces. Both of those are murder on the interaction between chain and gears, decreasing your ride efficiency and putting wear on your gear components.

What’s the answer? Experts recommend weekly cleaning to keep your bike in good working order. Once you’re done with a thorough cleaning job, your bike components should shine from cleaning and lubricating. Unfortunately, getting to that point isn’t exactly easy.

Cleaning your cassette by hand

Cleaning your cassette involves first collecting the supplies you’ll need, such as cleaning brushes, degreaser/cleaner designed for bikes, as well as water and rags. You can spray or brush the degreaser onto the cassette, and leave it to drip from the sprockets for a while. Once the degreaser has set on the cassette for a while, use a brush with long bristles to remove any remaining dirt. Wiping a rag on one finger between each sprocket may also be effective.

If the cassette is very dirty, you may need to remove it to clean it thoroughly. To remove your cassette easily, you’ll want a chain whip, a relatively inexpensive tool. Depending on your type of cassette, you’ll need a lockring removal tool to get the cassette off. You can buy both of these tools at most bike shops or online. You’ll also need an adjustable wrench. If you don’t already know how to remove the cassette, we suggest getting someone to show you how or looking up instructions online.

To clean a removed cassette, dump it in a bucket of degreaser to soak it for a while. Use a toothbrush, rag, or even floss to the parts that haven’t quite come clean. If need be, wet any of them down with a little more degreaser and wipe away the grime. Finally, wash the cassette with bike cleaner and rinse it off. Once the cassette is dry, apply a lube on it designed specifically for bikes.

Does that sound like a lot of work? It is. Fortunately, there’s an easier way: ultrasonic cleaning.

What’s ultrasonic cleaning?

Ultrasonic cleaning uses the power of high-frequency sound transmitted through a liquid. When the sound waves strike an object immersed in that liquid, they create millions of tiny bubbles that almost instantly collapse, releasing powerful jets of energy. This energy blasts away at grime and contaminants, scrubbing it away from every surface of an object, even hard-to-reach places.

Cleaning a bike cassette with ultrasonic cleaning

The great thing about ultrasonic cleaning is that it thoroughly cleans hidden, interior areas of parts of the cassette, such as down in between the sprockets. Not only that, but the cavitation cleaning action is completely safe for metal bike parts. For cleaning a bike cassette, you’ll probably want a tabletop ultrasonic cleaner once you remove it. Just place the part to be cleaned in the basket and use a detergent solution appropriate for bike cleaning. If you don’t know which one to use, we recommend speaking with the experts here at Omegasonics, as they can guide you to the right product.

Once you’ve added the detergent to the water bath and heated it using the unit’s heating function, just place the bike cassette in the basket, lower it in, and set the timer. You’ll need to experiment with how much time is required. Once it’s done, remove the part and inspect it. The combination of the detergent and the ultrasonic waves should have done their work in a fraction of the time without all the “elbow grease” you’d normally need. If you want, you can add lube manually, or drain the ultrasonic cleaner and run the cassette through another cycle, but with a lubricant added to the liquid bath instead of the detergent. Check with the experts at Omegasonics to find out which ones are best.

Want to know more about how to clean your whole bike to protect it during winter? Call one of our ultrasonic experts at Omegasonics at 888-989-5560 or email us at You can also get in touch with us by filling out our online contact form.