The best tool for cleaning road tar, grease, and other stains from your frame…
You may have heard of the Magic Erasers that a big brand out there is pushing for household cleaning purposes. These sponges are made from a substance called melamine foam, which is readily available in generic form for pennies on the dollar.
How do these sponges work? It’s not “magic”. It’s science. They are made from a micro-pourous chemical compound that is both flexible, but also extremely hard at the micro level. How Stuff Works has an excellent article that breaks it down in more detail.
These sponges have a variety of applications. I have discovered that they are the best tool to get stubborn stains, grease, etc. from a bike frame and carbon rims. All you have to do is wet the sponge with a small amount of water and the stain will wipe right off. It’s that simple. I use them on the down tube (road tar?!), chain stays, seat stays, and seat tube. Please note that these things can be abrasive on certain surfaces, so test a small area first. But I have used them on my frame, seatpost, stem, handlebars, etc. and have not experienced any abrasive scratches to the clear coat.
I have never recommend any bike-specific cleaning products, because they are usually derived from common household cleaners and then marked up because everything bike-related is expensive. That’s what’s so great about these: you can get 50 of them for $13!
You made have that these things are made from formaldehyde, cause cancer, and have been banned from stores. Fake news. This has been debunked by numerous respected sources, with Snopes being just one of them. So grab a 50-pack of these and clean your bike (and your entire house!) effectively and affordably.