Sticky drink mix cleanup

I’m looking for some input on what users have found particularly effective for cleanup of the sticky goo that can often be found adorning the frame and bars of triathlon bikes. I recently was tasked with race prepping a particularly sticky bike that looked like it had been slimed by a friendly ghost in a flourescent greenish hue. Bug and tar cleaner has been my go to for cleanups of this nature, but this mix of Infinit (and whatever other mystery substances) proved to be a tough match for the cleaner and a healthy dose of elbow grease.

I need to ask, how can someone get a frame this dirty!, I’ve been know to dribble when I drink, but it always washes off when I use my regular bike cleaner (Muc-Off). I just spray on the cleaner, let it soak for a bit, and then it just washes off.

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Agree. Pink MucOff, letting it stay on a bit, (using a stiffish nylon clothes brush if the goo is caked hard) and reasonably hot water. Repeat washes if the gunk is stubborn. Hope that helps.

If bug n tar cleaner didn’t work well, I dunno if MucOff will.

Makes you wonder how digestible this stuff is, if solvents can’t dissolve it…

I recommend placing the bike in boiling water for a few minutes.


Prolonged Hot water + car wash soap will usually dissolve the stickiest substances if not you can spray on some degreaser and then hose off, worst case clay bar should do the trick. I do wonder what the hell these people are drinking that does this. I live in one of the hottest places on earth, my bike gets a nice coating of sweat, salt, GU, Gatorade, and got knows what else mix on it after long rides and it pretty much hoses off.

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Uh, water and a towel.

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There’s an automotive cleaning trick for bug gut removal of dipping anti-static dryer sheets in water & then using them on the front of a car. I wonder if that would work.

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Triathlon. “Drink mix” :grimacing:

This sounds like maltodextrin residue, maltodextrin being a common way of delivering lots of sugar in energy drinks without them tasting too sweet (you break it down to its constituent glucose units very quickly).

Since maltodextrins are effectively shortened starch molecules they are more soluble in water than in anything else.*

They are short chain polymers so getting the residue and / or the water hot will mobilise it much more quickly.

Edit: the “anything else” isn’t strictly true but you are unlikely to find any of the few things that are better outside a lab.


Lol, I was also asking how someone could get a frame this dirty! As far as I could gather its a case of a leaky hydration hose containing a high carbohydrate mix and a repeatedly ridden hard and put away wet so to speak bike, resulting in multiple layers built up of said sticky substance.

A prolonged hot water bike wash may be just the ticket… or spit shining the bike to expose it to my salivary enzymes :wink: I do wonder if some of the maltodextrins in endurance formulas that are intended to be more slowly digested such as cyclic, highly branched and cluster dextrin are proving to be a tougher cleanup due to their more complex molecular structures.

At the end of the day though, all of these drink mixes are soluble in water to be consumed. So out to the bike wash station next time I encounter this to let some hot water and hose pressure do the heavy lifting instead of a quick wipe down in the indoor workshop stand.

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Probably the opposite: there is a known correlation between glycaemic index and gelatinisation temperature in starches. This is because the linear structure of amylose chains makes them more accessible to alpha amylase but also allows the chains to pack more tightly, increasing hydrogen bonding, so they require more energy to dissociate.

Branching and cyclisation reduce availability to amylase and interfere with intermolecular alignment thus reducing hydrogen bonding.

I am curious to know why would anyone accept to work on a bike this dirty.

stop making sense.


It’s amazing how that stuff once it has properly dried can’t be removed with neither ethanol, acetone, benzine nor paint thinner but some hot water works quick and easily.
You have to experience it by yourself to believe it.

There are lots of things to which that applies : the basic rule of solvation is that like dissolves like.

Water has the highest hydrogen bonding energy of the solvents you listed so it is the best solvent for things that also have high hydrogen bonding energy, such as sugars.

There are better solvents (eg formamide) but the difference doesn’t justify the expense in normal uses. The best explanation for all of this is Hansen’s work on solubility parameters; “Hansen Solubiliy Parameters, a User’s Guide” (CRC press) is good but very expensive.

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Thanks Mark!

Yeah, if you know what those stains are, approaching the question of how to remove them from a chemical or rather physical point of view will lead you to that answer.
But that’s maybe not how most users approach it?

I was also “guilty” of approaching it empirically based on finding those stains predominantly in places on a customer’s bike where drink mix from the water bottles might get but not finding them in the usual places for that stuff. So I went through my arsenal of solvents before I started thinking :man_facepalming:.

Using hot water on a sponge made a big difference compared to just using water on a rag.

If this is a recurring task, perhaps it would be worth it to get a steamer to aid in dissolving the gunk. I have one and they are available on Amazon starting around USD 20 - 30.

Water @il_falco ? Like out of the toilet? (My apologies for the Idiocracy reference).

A small bucket of hot water and a sponge is simple enough (almost too simple that I am guilty of not trying that first) for indoor use and I’m keen to give it a go. Makes perfect sense regarding the hydrogen bonding Mark @Lyrebird_Cycles

I don’t know that I come across messes of this magnitude frequently enough to warrant a steam cleaner @cgbuckley but it’s an interesting suggestion. Anyone know if exposing carbon fiber resin to temperatures in this range can be detrimental? I would assume a household steamer is in the 212-230F or 100-110C range.