If you’re trying to remove rust from your bike and rejuvenate it to make it look brand new, there are three main methods to get it done:
Option 1: You could dip aluminum foil or steel wool in white vinegar, coke soda, or lime juice and use it to scrub off the rust stain on your bike.
Option 2: Mix baking soda and water in equal portions and apply it to the rusted parts of your bike. After 10 to 15 minutes, scrub the rusted parts using aluminum foil or a plastic scrub pad.
Option 3: You could spray WD-40 on the rusted bike components and use a scrub pad or aluminum foil to remove the rust.
Let’s walk you through the process of how you could use those methods to remove rust from your bike.
Rust on a bike – What household items can I use to clean my bike chain?
There are different household items you could use at home to get rid of rust from your bike. What are we talking about?
- White vinegar
- Coke soda
- Hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar
- Baking soda
- Phosphoric or hydrochloric acid
- Lime juice
Well, you don’t need to use all those household items at once since they can be substituted for the same result.
However, you need to use different techniques to remove rust from your bike’s chain, frame, handlebars, spokes, and rims. Why is it so? Because if you use the same technique to remove rust from all your bike’s parts, you could end up compromising the integrity of some components.
Without further ado, let’s have a look at the methods you could use to remove rust from different parts of your bike.
How to remove rust from a bike chain
Before you start, make sure that you have the following items:
- Lime juice
- Scouring pad
- Deep bowl
- Dry rags
- Link removal tool
Step 1: Rotate the foot pedal backward to inspect the bike chain for any signs of dirt, grime, or rust. Make sure you wear glasses to protect your eyes against dust particles.
Step 2: Wipe off the grime or dirt on the bike chain using the dry rag. If there is too much grime, you could use a toothbrush to gently scrub the bike chain. This is important because it will make it easier to detect rust.
Step 3: Soak the scouring pad in a bowl of lime juice for a few seconds. Next, rub off the rust on the bike chain using the wet scouring pad. However, if the surface rust is overwhelming, you can detach the chain off the cassette using the link removal tool and soak the chain in lime juice for at least 2 hours.
Step 4: After you’re done soaking the chain in lime juice, wipe it off with a dry rag. Make sure the chain is completely dry before you put it back on the bicycle.
How to remove rust from bike handlebars
What ingredients do you need to get started?
- Dry rag
- Table salt
- Lime juice
- Aluminum foil
Step 1: Pour 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into a mug and mix it with 6 tablespoons of regular salt. Stir the lemon and salt mixture using a tablespoon for a few seconds until it becomes thick.
Step 2: Apply the lemon and salt mixture using your fingers or a spray bottle on the rusted parts of the handlebar. Allow the paste mixture to sit on the handlebar for at least 10 minutes before you proceed with the next step.
Step 3: Take off the toothbrush and gently scrub the rusted parts of the handlebar. The rust stains should wear off after a few seconds. However, if the toothbrush is not very effective at getting rid of the rust stains, you can substitute it with a clean cloth or an aluminum foil.
Step 4: After you’ve removed the rust, wipe the handlebars with a moist towel and dry it with a rag.
How to remove rust from a bike frame
Talking about the bike frame, you will need the following ingredients:
- Dry rag or cloth
- Vinegar or baking soda
- Aluminum foil, plastic, or steel scrub pad
- Brush or sponge
- Lemon juice
Step 1: Mix baking soda and water in equal portions and stir until you see a thick paste. If you want to make it more effective, you can add a little bit of lemon juice into the mixture.
Step 2: Scoop the baking soda and water mixture using a sponge and apply it on the bike frame. Wait for at least 10 to 15 minutes before you proceed with the next step. However, don’t allow the paste mixture to sit for too long because it could tarnish the frame due to its high acidity level.
Step 3: Scour the bike frame surface using a plastic scrub pad, but do it gently, you don’t want to overdo it and spoil the frame. The plastic scrub pad should do the trick to remove rust from the bike frame, but if you don’t notice any major improvement, you can substitute it with aluminum foil or a steel scrub pad. Also, you could add more paste if there is excess rust on the bike frame.
Step 4: After about 10 minutes, wipe the bike frame with a dry cloth or rag to remove the baking soda paste.
Step 5: Inspect the bike frame for any signs of rust stains you could have missed. If the rust stains are too stubborn, you could repeat the process but instead of using baking soda, you can use WD-40 or vinegar.
How to remove rust from bike rims
So here is what you will need:
- Aluminum foil
- Dry rag or sponge
Step 1: For you to properly access the bike rims, you should detach the tire and spokes off the wheel. However, you can still work on it without removing the tire and spokes.
Step 2: Dip the aluminum foil in a bowl of coke and let it sit for a few seconds. Scrub the bike rim using the wet aluminum foil until you get rid of the rust stains.
Step 3: Wipe the rims using a dry sponge, cloth, or rag. To keep off the rust coming back, you could wax the bike rims.
How to remove rust from bike spokes
If you want to get rid of rust from your bike spokes, you will need the following items;
- Aluminum foil or steel wool
- White vinegar or elbow grease
- Dry cloth
- Plastic container
Step 1: Pour the white vinegar into a plastic container. Next, take the aluminum foil or steel wool and dip it in the white vinegar. However, make sure you wear gloves so you don’t have that vinegar smell on your hands. Alternatively, you could apply elbow grease on the aluminum foil or steel wool.
Step 2: Press and rub the aluminum foil or steel wool on the rusted bike spokes. The rust stains should come off easily, but if they’re stubborn, you can press a little bit harder and apply more vinegar or elbow grease on the scrubbing material.
Step 3: Take off a rag and gently wipe the bike spokes to remove any rust residue. Otherwise, you will need to wax the spokes to prevent the rust from creeping back again.
Top tips for stopping a bike rusting
The trick to prevent rust on your bike is to store it in a controlled environment; away from moisture or any other elements that may speed up the process. If you’re keeping it in a garage, make sure the room is HVAC enabled.
However, if you have storage limitations and you can’t keep your bike inside the house, you should invest in a good quality bike cover to keep off condensation.
Wipe your bike down after rain or snow
If you have a habit of leaving your bike wet, it will only be a matter of time before you start to notice rust stains on the bike components. For that reason, you should always wipe your bike with a dry rag after riding in the rain or snow. Don’t forget to wipe the chain, brakes, rims, and spokes.
Oil your bike regularly
Here is the thing; besides lubricating your bike, the oil creates a buffer zone that protects your bike components against rust and corrosion. That means, you need to apply oil on your chain, and cassette. Also, wipe the excess oil with a dry cloth.
Keep sweat to a minimum
Just like water, sweat can also be a catalyst that causes rust. Well, we’re not saying you shouldn’t sweat since that would be impossible while riding a bike. However, if you wear a good-quality cycling jersey that absorbs much of the sweat before it trickles down, it would make a big difference.
Wax your bike
Most people don’t know this, but you can prevent rust by applying wax on your bike metal surfaces such as the handlebar, frame, rims, and spokes. Any automotive wax paste product will do the trick; alternatively, you could use furniture polish.
Better yet, you should make it a routine to apply wax on your bike after the rust removal process.
Q. Is rust on a bike bad?
A. There is no other way to put it, but rust is like cancer on your bike. It will slowly eat away your bike’s parts and before you know it, you will probably need to replace most of the components or buy a new bike if you don’t have it under control.
For starters, the rust could make your frame weak, blister your paint and even cause your brakes to fail or chain to snap. Not to mention, you will get one of those disapproval stares since the rust will turn your bike into an eyesore.
Q. What causes rust on a bike?
A. Rust is what happens when iron or steel is exposed to moisture or oxygen; a process known as “oxidation”. In other words, the parts of your bike that are made out of steel or iron are susceptible to rust.
However, aluminum and carbon fiber on a bike cannot rust. Then again, even if you have an aluminum or carbon fiber-made bicycle, some parts such as the chain will still be made of steel; and likely to rust.
Q. How do you get rust off a bike chain without removing it?
A. It’s simple, you can scrub the chain by using a scouring pad that has been soaked in lime juice. Alternatively, you could also scrub the bike chain with aluminum foil that has been soaked in white vinegar or coke soda.
Don’t forget to wipe the chain with a dry rag and apply oil on every chain link after you’re done.
Q. What is the best rust dissolver?
A. The best rust dissolver should be anything that is acidic, but not too acidic to tarnish your bike components. For that reason, the best rust dissolver to use on a bike is usually coke soda, white vinegar, lime juice, or WD-40.
Any of the methods we’ve covered in this guide can help you to remove rust from your bicycle. However, we think the best method is scrubbing off rust stains with aluminum foil that has been soaked in coke soda, white vinegar, or lime juice. This is because those ingredients (coke soda, white vinegar, and lime juice) are easily accessible at home and they’re not too acidic to corrode your bike’s components.