Improperly power washing your bicycle can lead to creaks due to loss of lubricant. When you blow out the lubricant from your bike’s components, they become squeaky and dry. So the first order of business is to carefully avoid blasting your power washer into any of the bike’s bearings. To minimize damage, you should direct your spray along the plane of the bicycle, not at right angles. Start from above at the front of the bike and spray downward as your walk towards the back. Then, direct the spray from below in a similar manner, being careful to avoid the headset (which contains races of lubricated ball bearings).
Now there will be times when you need to remove dirt from the side surfaces of your bike. You can very carefully wash the frame from the side as long as you avoid the derailleurs, bottom bracket, hub bearings and pedals. Don’t be lulled into complacency if your bike has sealed bearings – a power wash can damage those seals over time.
If you’ve already improperly power-washed you bike to the point that it creaks, you need to modify your technique as described above. Immediately after washing, you should remove the seatpost and invert the bicycle, allowing water to drain from the seat tube. Then go ahead and dry, lubricate with the appropriate grease and reattach the seatpost. By the way, you should also do this every time your bike is exposed to the rain. If your bike doesn’t have a drain hole in its bottom bracket, use a power drill with a small metal-drilling bit to create one at the very bottom of the bracket. The ideal location is adjacent to the plastic cable guide attached to the shell.
Another source of creaking is when a wet leather or leather-trimmed saddle dries out, losing its natural suppleness. Creaking will result when the saddle, under the weight of the rider, rubs against the saddle rail clamp. Use grease or leather conditioner to solve this problem.
Your chain and jockey wheels have to be lubed after every power wash, (really, after every ride). You can use spray chain lubes formulated especially for this application. If the jockey wheels bear cartridges, pry off the bearing dust cover using a razor blade and apply some grease before reattaching the dust cover. If your crank or bottom bracket squeak, unscrew the assembly, apply grease and plumbers tape to the threads, and reassemble. For a press-in bottom bracket, take out the cartridge bearings, then grease and push the bearings back in place. As a Holmes County power washing executive has put it: “I power wash my bike frequently, but by doing it correctly, I never hear a squeak”.