How to Remove Rust from a Bicycle

Bicycle Universe - How to Remove Rust from a Bicycle

If you haven’t been using your bike lately, chances are it is starting to develop some rust on the metallic parts. Not only does the rust leave a nasty discoloration on your bicycle but it can also render the bike completely obsolete if not taken care of in due time.

How to remove rust from a bicycle! Mix baking soda and vinegar into a paste then add on a little lime juice. Using a brush, apply the paste on all the metallic parts on your bike before letting it rest for about 10 minutes. Scrub off the paste thoroughly with a steel wool pad until all the rust has been removed. Finally, apply wax on all the metal components to keep off the rust.

Other Rust-removal agents you can use

When it comes to removing rust from your bike, there are numerous other cleaning agents you can use to do the job. And while the rust-removal process remains almost the same, you can substitute the rust clearing agents I have discussed with:

  • WD40
  • Coke
  • Vinegar
  • Phosphoric/hydrochloric acid
  • Hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar, etc.

In this article, we consider what steps to follow when removing rust from various bike components and the various rust-removal agents you can use in the process.

Your bicycle has got several metallic components that are susceptible to rust when exposed to moisture and air. You want to find a way of removing this orange-brown deposit as soon as you notice the slightest sign of it.

Let’s look a closer look at how you can get rid of the rust from various bike parts:

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How to Remove Rust from Bike Chain

Before you begin the rust removal procedure, you want to have the following tools of the trade:

  • Dry rags
  • Scouring pad
  • Link removal tool
  • Toothbrushes/ bristle brushes
  • Lime juice
  • Deep bowl
  • Lubricant

Step 1: Examine the entire length of the bike chain to check for any surface grime or dirt. Standing next to the bike, lift the rear end and spin the foot pedal in a backward motion through several rotations while looking for dirt, grime, and rust between the chain links.

Warning: – When spinning wheels or chains, be careful of splashes to the eyes.

Step 2: Wipe out the dirt using your dry rags then brush off the “hidden” grime with the bristle brush or toothbrush. You want to use a number of different sized brushes to reach areas between center rollers and side plates of the chain. You will be able to notice the rust more clearly once the dirt has been removed.

Step 3: Dip the steel scouring pad in lime juice and scrub off the surface rust on the chain. For more stubborn rust stains, turn the bicycle upside down and use the link removal tool to get the chain off. Proceed to soak the chain for about one to two hours in a bowl of lime juice.

Step 4: Remove the chain from the bowl of lime (or alternative solution as mentioned earlier) and dry it with a rag. Ensure that it is completely dry before you reattach it back on the bike.

Step 5: Add one to two drops of quality lube chain and slowly spin the pedals to spread it evenly. Focus between the center rollers and side plates along the chain and let the lube sink in before wiping away any excess. The lubricant creates a seal that separates the bike chain from the various elements, preventing rust.

(We have an article here if you end up needing a new chain and want to compare Shimano and KMC chains)

How to Remove Rust from Bike Frame

You will need the following materials:

  • Baking soda/vinegar
  • Brush/sponge
  • Bowl
  • Plastic/steel scrub pad
  • Dry rag

Step 1: Mix water and baking soda in a bowl in the ratio of 1:1 then stir the mixture until it turns into a thick paste. You can add a tinge of lemon juice to enhance the mixture’s rust-removal properties.

Step 2: Use your brush or sponge to scoop the paste then apply it evenly through the whole length of the bike frame. Let the paste mixture sit on the frame for about 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t remove the paste coating before it has set; it will need some time to break down the rust.

Step 3: Use the plastic or steel scrub pad to scrub the baking soda paste off the bike frame. You’ll notice the rust breaking down and also see the flaking of the metal frame. Continue adding the paste as you increase the intensity of scrubbing to ensure the rust is totally removed.

Step 4: Give the bike at least 10 minutes before you start wiping off the baking soda with a dry rag. Do this until you are sure the frame is completely dry and if there are any leftover rust stains, repeat the process until it’s all gone. Store your bike in a cool and dry place to prevent the rust issue from relapsing.

NB: For more stubborn rust stains, I recommend you use vinegar or WD40 or its equivalent (like this product on Amazon) instead of the baking soda. It has stronger rust removal abilities compared to baking soda.

How to Remove Rust from Handlebars

You will need the following ingredients to help you get rid of the rust from your bike’s handlebars:

  • Table salt
  • Cup
  • Tablespoon
  • Toothbrush
  • Dry rag
  • Lime juice

Step 1: Mix about 6 tablespoons of ordinary table salt with 2 spoonfuls of lemon juice in a cup then stir the mixture together using the spoon until it turns into a thick paste.

Step 2: Apply the thick paste mixture on the metallic parts of the handlebars until you are sure they are evenly coated then allow it to rest for about ten minutes. Ensure the paste is thick enough not to drip off the handlebars.

Step 3: Use your toothbrush to brush off the rust from the handlebars while applying different brushing motions. Keep on brushing until you see the rust stains breaking down and fading off. You can also use a clean cloth if you feel the toothbrush isn’t working for you.

Step 4: Once you are sure all the rust is removed, rinse the handlebars with clean water then dry your bike with a dry rag.

To keep the rust off your bike handlebars, I suggest you polish it frequently with wax; at least twice a week. Alternatively, you can spray a coat of clear varnish on the metallic handlebars.

How to Remove Rust from Bike Spokes

To rid your bicycle spokes of rust, you will need the following things:

  • Steel/brass wool
  • Elbow grease
  • Wax
  • Dry cloth

Step 1: Apply some elbow grease on a fine steel/brass wool pad then rub each spoke on your bike wheels with the steel/brass wool pads. Take a pinch of steel wool and continuously run it up and down each spoke; rotate it around the difficult spots on the spoke.

Step 2: Continue rubbing the spokes until you notice the rust breaking down. You might want to increase the force you are using for more stubborn rust stains. Remember to use fresher parts of the pad once you realize the steel wool falling off.

Step 3: Use a dry rag to wipe off all the loose rust stains and any pieces of steel wool stuck on the bike spokes until they are clean. Rub wax all over the bike spokes while wiping off the excess.

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How to Remove Rust from Bike Rims

Make sure you have the following materials:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Degreaser
  • Dry rag

Step 1: Separate the tire, inner tubing, and spokes from the bike wheels so that you are only remaining with the bike rims.

Step 2: Take the aluminum foil and dip it in a bowl of degreaser then let it soak for a few seconds. Use the wet aluminum foil to scrub away round the bicycle rims, taking care not to miss any rust spots. Repeat this process while until all the rust breaks down and falls off the rims.

Step 3: Wipe the bike rims clean with a dry rag before applying wax around to prevent the rust from developing again.

Final Note

Hopefully, that’s given you some ideas on how to remove rust from your bike. Moving forward, you may want to think about investing in a good bike cover that can protect your bike from moisture and dust and dirt while it’s being stored. We have an in-depth article here on what you need to look for.