Unless you know how to get rid of rust on a bike, you have to deal with sticky gears and chains, a frozen handlebar, a weakened frame, and unsightly rims, among other issues. So, how do you get rid of the annoying rust?
Minimal and superficial rust needs scrubbing off, which you can do with steel wool, aluminum foil, or a steel bristle brush. After that, you’ll need to clean off and dry the bike.
But if the rust spread is deep and wide, consider scrubbing it off using household supplies like baking soda, vinegar, table salt, and lime juice. Alternatively, use an effective anti-rust spray.
Given that rust affects different parts of the bike, I will explain what to do in each case. We’ll look at how you can get rid of rust from the rim, frame, handlebar, chain, gears, and fork.
How to Get Rid Of Rust on a Bike – Quick DIY Fixes
Let’s discuss the quick fixes on different parts of the bike.
1. How to Get Rid Of Rust on a Bike Rim and Spokes
Rust can weaken, stiffen or even break the rim and spokes apart. Also, rust gives the bike rims an ugly look and is a health hazard.
So, once you spot it, you’ve to get rid of it fast to save your bike.
Here are the steps for doing that:
Step 1 – Scrub off with steel wool or aluminum foil
Once you identify the rust, consider scrubbing it off with steel wool.
In its absence, you can use aluminum foil. However, you’ll need to roll it into a ball before using it to rub off rust.
Step 2 – Wash off with warm soapy water
Now that you’ve managed to scrub off the rust coat, you’ve to wash it off. Consider using warm water over cold water to loosen the rust coat.
Also, add soap to the warm water to make the clean-off seamless. Preferably, use dish soap as it’s more concentrated and therefore more potent than bar soap.
Step 3 – Rinse off, and then dry off
You cannot leave the soapy deposits on the rim. For that reason, rinse off with clean water. Lastly, dry off your bike to discourage wetness, which is known to cause rusting.
Step 4 – Spray an anti-rust spray (chemical bike rust remover)
If you fail to remove rust after following the above three steps, consider using an anti-rust spray.
You need to spray the affected part and allow the rust remover to act for a few seconds. After that, wipe off the rust deposits with an abrasive sponge, steel wool, or anything else that’s rough.
One best rust remover for bikes that you can use is the WD-40 490058 Multiuse Product (View on Amazon). It’s effective against rust stickiness and rust-to-metal bonds.
2. A Guide on How to Get Rust off A Bike Chain
A rusty chain is likely to wear faster, but that’s not the only issue. It usually is sticky, thus ineffective in performance. Furthermore, it’s likely to break when pedaling, and you wouldn’t want that.
Ordinarily, you are supposed to lubricate your bike chain regularly to discourage rusting. But once it happens, you should get rid of it at first chance.
Here are the steps for removing rust from bicycle chain:
Step 1 – Detach the rusty chain
Remove the chain if it is still attached to the chainring. That allows you to determine the extent of the rust and remove the coat much comfortably.
Step 2 – Degrease it
Dampen the rusty chain to dislodge the rust from the metal surface easily. You can do that by wetting a rag with a degreaser and then using it to scrub off the rust.
Commercially, one of the best degreasers is the White Lightning Clean Streak. It washes off stubborn grime, grease, and rust.
But if you cannot access a commercial degreaser, you can use a household supply like vinegar.
Here’s how you can remove rust from bike chain with vinegar:
- Soak your rusty chain in vinegar and allow it to sit in the solution for about 20 minutes
- Rinse off the chain
- Dry off the chain before reattaching it
Alternatively, you can dampen a rag with vinegar and then use it to rub off the rust. This will mostly work when the rust is not intense.
But if the rust is extreme, you’ll have to scrub it off with steel wool, as I explain in the next step.
Remember to wear gloves when handling vinegar, as it can be slightly aggressive.
Step 3 – Scrub off with wet steel wool (moistened with lime juice)
You have to dampen your steel wool with a mild acid at this stage, and there’s none gentle as lime juice. So, soak the steel wool in lime juice and then use it to scrub off the rust.
As a precaution, wear protective gloves.
After scrubbing the chain with steel wool, wipe off the surface with paper towels.
Step 4 – Rinse off lime
Since paper towels won’t get rid of lime deposits, consider rinsing off the chain with soapy water. Soap will help to get rid of the sugar elements present in lime juice.
For an effective rinse-off, use warm soapy water. Remember, however, that you’ll still need to rinse off the soap deposits with clean water before drying the chain.
Step 5 (Optional) – Apply Rust Spray (Rust Remove)
If rust proves to be stubborn after following all the four steps discussed above, consider using an anti-rust spray.
I again recommend the WD-40 490057CT Multiuse Product. Since it has stickiness-reduction properties, this bike rust remover is a fantastic choice.
Once you spray the rust remover and allow it to act, wipe off the chain with a rag.
3. How to Remove Rust from Bicycle Frame
The frame is probably the most susceptible part to rust.
If your frame is made of galvanized steel, powder-coated aluminum steel, or stainless steel, you won’t have to worry about rust. If not, then it’s likely to rust, more so when left outside.
The good news is that it’s possible to save a rusty frame, and here are a few ways to do it:
a) Scrub off with a steel brush or aluminum foil
In most cases, scrubbing off the bike frame with either aluminum foil or steel brush gets rid of rust.
If you prefer using aluminum foil, dip it in vinegar or soapy water and then rub it over the rusty part.
However, that’s not as effective as using a steel brush like the MAXMAN Wire Brush, which is effective against rust, welds, and paints.
b) Use vinegar/lime juice with table salt
The acidic properties of lime juice or vinegar combined with table salt’s abrasiveness make the perfect homemade rust remover.
You can mix lime juice or vinegar with table salt at a ratio of 1:3. Once you apply the mixture to the bike frame, let it act for about 10 minutes before washing off.
c) Dust off with baking soda
Here, you can apply baking soda directly to the metal frame.
Alternatively, mix it with water at a 50/50 ratio to form an abrasive paste. You’ll need to apply the paste to the rust and leave it to act for 10 minutes before washing it off.
d) Use rust spray
You can also get rid of rust from your bike
by using an anti-rust spray. It’s a quick fix that works on any metal surface.
4. How to Clean Rust off A Bike Handlebars
If your bike handlebar features iron at any point, it’s likely to rust upon contact with moisture and air. Overall, a rusty handlebar is a hazard on the road as it can break and cause you to lose control.
So, before rust can eat your handlebar away, you should get rid of it, and here are common solutions for that:
a) Baking soda paste
Baking soda is not just a fantastic baking ingredient but also a great scrubber. You can, thus, use it to get rid of rust from your bike handlebar.
Here’s how to remove rust from bike using baking soda:
- First, wipe your handlebar clean with a sponge dampen by soapy water
- Then make a paste by adding water to baking soda at a 50/50 ratio (1 cup water: 1 cup baking soda)
- Use a sponge to apply the paste onto the rusty handlebar and allow it to act for about 10 minutes
- Brush off the paste coat, preferably with a toothbrush, before rinsing off with clean water
- Dry the handlebar to complete the process
b) Acidic cleaners (lime juice or vinegar)
You can also get rid of rust from your handlebar using an acidic cleaner. Consider using something mild like lime juice or vinegar.
Here are the steps on how to get rust off a bike handlebar:
- Apply the acidic cleaner on the rusty handlebar and leave it to act for 15 minutes
- Rinse off the acidic cleaner with soapy water and then clean off with plain water
- Dry off the handlebar and apply wax to prevent rust from forming again
c) Lemon juice and table salt mixture
You can also use lime juice and table salt to remove rust from your bike handlebar easily. The two household supplies form an impressive abrasive mixture.
Here’s how to go about it:
- Mix 2 tbsp lime juice with 6 tbsp salt to make an abrasive paste
- Use a toothbrush to coat the rusty handlebar with the paste
- Allow the paste to act for about 10 minutes before scrubbing it off
- Wash off the rust and paste deposit with soapy water
- Rinse off with clean water before drying
d) Anti-rust spray
If you don’t prefer using household supplies, save yourself some time using a chemical rust remover or anti-rust spray.
You can get the WD-40 490058 Multiuse Product online and use it to get rid of rust. Since it’s a multipurpose cleaner, it’s also a fantastic option for cleaning your entire bike.
5. How to Remove Rust from Bike Gears
You cannot expect your bike gears to work to their level best if rusty. They are more likely to be sticky, thus ineffective.
So, if you can, get rid of the rust as soon as you notice it.
Here are your options for removing rust from bike:
a) Scrub off with aluminum foil
Preferably, soak aluminum foil in vinegar and use it to scrub off the rust from the gears. When done, wipe off the bike gears.
b) Scrub more with steel wool
Steel wool is an effective scrubber that can help you dislodge stubborn rust. In the absence of steel wool, use a steel bristle brush. The outcome will be the same, even though the brush will be much faster.
c) Apply baking soda paste
By making a baking soda paste (a 50/50 baking soda and water mixture), you can get rid of rust from bike gears.
Here, you’ve to cover the rusty gears with the baking soda paste for about 10 minutes before washing off.
d) Use Coca-Cola soda or vinegar
Both Coca-Cola and vinegar have corrosive properties, which you need to get rid of rust from bike gears.
You have two options here:
- Put vinegar or coke in a spray bottle and spray it to the rusty gears
- Soak the gears in the solution for a few minutes before rinsing off
6. How to Get Rid Of Rust on a Bike Fork
Rust can ruin your bike fork, no matter how minor the spread is. So, you’ve to get rid of it as soon as detected.
Minor rust on the bike fork
In case of minor rust, you only need white vinegar and aluminum foil. Here are the steps to follow:
- Wear gloves before soaking aluminum foil in white vinegar
- Allow the vinegar to acts for about 15 minutes before washing it off
- Apply some protective oil to prevent rust from re-forming
Stubborn rust on the bike fork
If rust doesn’t come off after using vinegar, consider scrubbing it off with fine-grip sandpaper.
You should, however, be careful not to damage the seal. Once the rust comes off, apply protective oil to prevent a recurrence.
How to Rust-Proof Your Bike
After learning how to remove rust from bikes, the next thing is to prevent its recurrence.
Remember, the best approach for rust is prevention. In that case, you’ve to rust-protect your bike to prevent rust forming again, which you can do using these tips:
a) Use a Corrosion-Inhibitor Spray
I mentioned the WD-40 490058 Multiuse Product as an effective rust remover, but it also doubles up as a corrosion inhibitor. So, you can use it to prevent your bike from rusting.
Alternatively, you can use the Rust-Oleum Rust Spray Paint. It offers excellent protection and leaves your bike with a glossy finish.
b) Keep Your Bike Indoors
Instead of leaving your bike outside where it’s exposed to rusting agents, lock it inside.
You can store it in your garage, store, or any spare room.
c) Shelter Your Bike Outdoors
If you must keep your bike outdoors, then shelter it from the rain.
Overall, there’s no better fix for that than using a bike cover. A bicycle cover like the Pro Bike Tool Bicycle Cover (View on Amazon) will protect your bike against rain, humidity, and dust.
d) Always Wipe It Dry
Once your bike comes into contact with any form of wetness, you have to dry it. If not, then you’ll encourage rusting.
And when speaking of wetness, it includes rain and sweat. Remember, your sweat has salt, which enhances rusting.
e) Don’t Forget To Lubricate
Moving bicycle parts like the chain and gears needs frequent lubrication to work effectively. However, that isn’t the only reason you should lubricate them.
Lubrication forms a protective layer against water and air, minimizing the risk of rusting. So, consider it.
You can try using the Finish Line 1-Step Lubricant, which has fantastic anti-rust properties.
f) Cover with Wax
Wax also forms a protective layer against water and air, which means it’s equally an anti-rust agent. So, consider applying it if you can access it.
You can apply wax on the handlebar, chain, and frame after removing rust.
Now you know how to get rid of rust on a bike. So, if you ever notice rust on the bike frame, handlebar, chain, or any other component, consider the shared tips.
But remember, prevention is always the best approach against rusting.