Our testing determined that the Park Tool Cyclone Chain Cleaner works very well on dirty chains. It is very easy to use, simply unclip the two half’s, pour about 2 oz of the Park Tool CB-2 Citrus ChainBrite cleaner in and snap the Cyclone closed around the chain and spin the crank in reverse until the grit and grime are adequately removed from the chain. In our test we could see the chain color gradually changing from black and gritty to black and silver as we cycled the chain through the Cyclone and the grit settled to the bottom until it became all silver and looked like a new chain. The photo below shows the chain at approximately halfway through the cleaning process.
Park Tool CB-2 Citrus ChainBrite cleaner is specially formulated for use in the CM-5 Cyclone Chain Scrubber and is the recommended product, however dish soap and water can also be used or other mild cleaning product such as Simple Green, for example. Do not use any harsh or volatile cleaners as they are not recommend and could potentially react with the Cyclone and damage the plastic and bristles or the chain and nearby components it comes into contact with or drips on.
After cleaning with the Park Tool CB-2 ChainBrite clean it out completely and re-fill with a dish soap and water solution and run the chain through it again. This serves to flush out and remove any additional grit. This is why manufacturers of machined mechanical components, such as engine blocks for example, use warm soap and water as the final step to flush out any grit remaining from the machining process. The same holds true for a bicycle chain. On the microscopic level when the chain is looked at in a scanning electron microscope the metal appears as millions of little peaks and valleys. It is in these valleys that the sand and other grit accumulates. The the warm dish soap and water ensures that it will be fully flushed out.
A clean chain extends the life of the chain, chainrings, cassette and shifts better and reduces friction created by a dirty chain which equates to increased power to the rear tire instead of overcoming drag.