Here's a link to a description of how competative cyclers clean their gears - Gear Floss!
"If you’ve ever flossed between your cogs with a rag, you know how the rag constantly snags on the cogs, hindering progress. But Finish Line Gear Floss is loosely-woven, absorbent, microfiber rope that slides in between the cogs and does a beautiful job. You can also use it to remove the dog hair, grime, and grass wrapped around your jockey wheel center bolts and around your bottom bracket spindle where it meets your crank arm.
I have a big roll of Gear Floss that I chop hunks off of whenever I need – which is frequently during cyclocross season, but the stocking stuffer size is a package of 20 ropes, each 20 inches long. You can clean a lot of cogsets with one 20-inch piece, so don’t think that it’s only 20 cog cleanings in a package. For $7, you can make somebody very happy, and they’ll probably wonder what the heck it is when they open the wrapping paper, which makes it even more fun."