How To Remove Rust From Bikes

Realizing that your bike is rusting up can be very frustrating.

If it’s on something mechanical then it can be difficult to ride.

Or it can even damage the bike more. 

how to remove rust from bikes

So, here’s our guide to helping you get rid of that irritating rust.

What is Rust?

Before we get into how to remove and prevent rust, let’s talk about what exactly rust is. We’ve all seen rust before and know that it can be incredibly damaging. But do we all actually know what it is? 

Rust is the name given to iron oxide. It is the result of iron and oxygen reacting in the presence of water or air moisture. You probably know that metal can become rusty when it gets wet, so this should be making a lot of sense.

Rust specifically occurs on iron, which a lot of bikes have. They may not be made entirely from iron, but even a small amount can rust and cause issues.

So, now you know what rust is, let’s move on to removing it.

How to Remove a Light Layer of Rust

Rust usually shows up on exposed metal. On your bike, these are usually the spokes, the saddle seat post, the handlebar, and areas of the frame. So, there’s a lot that can get rusty.

One way of removing the rust before it does any more damage is with baking soda. It might seem surprising but baking soda is amazing at cleaning almost anything. From burnt frying pans to your teeth to the wheel spokes on your bike. 

Here are some steps to removing a thin layer of rust:

Step 1: Mix some baking soda with water. This process is really simple. Just take a bowl, pour in some baking soda, and then pour in some water. The ratio should be about 50:50 so that the mixture is paste-like.

Step 2: Apply the mixture. To make sure that you don’t damage the spokes any further, don’t use anything too rough to apply the mixture. Take a cloth or even a paintbrush and apply it to the rusted areas. 

Step 3: Wait. The mixture will need some time to do its work. Leave it for about 15 minutes. The baking soda won’t do your bike any harm, so don’t worry about the timing too much.

Step 4: Cleaning. Now it’s time to scrub. Take a scouring pad or some steel wool pads and begin to scrub at the rust. The rust should begin to break away from the bike. If it doesn’t, then you might need to leave it on a little longer. If it still doesn’t work, then you will need to try one of the stronger options further on.

How to Remove a Thick Layer of Rust

If the above method doesn’t work or the rust is just too thick, then you do have other options.

Using something acidic like vinegar can have a great result. This is used in the same way as baking soda. 

Baking soda and vinegar are also be combined for double the cleaning power. This solution shouldn’t be 50:50. Add a tablespoon or two. 

Rusty bike

So, here are some steps to getting rid of that more stubborn rust:

Step 1: Pour some vinegar into a bowl or a spray bottle. If you can get your hands on a spray bottle, this will be the easiest way of applying the vinegar. (If you’re using a spray bottle that once held something else, make sure to clean it thoroughly. Otherwise, the vinegar may react to the substances still inside.) 

Step 2: Apply the vinegar. If you’re using a spray bottle, then you can spray the vinegar straight onto the rust. If you don’t have a spray bottle, then you can use the same tool as you did with the baking soda. This will be a longer process and may not apply as much but it will still work.

Step 3: Wait. Again, when it comes to cleaning something like rust, patience is key. You need to leave the products to do their work. If you don’t, then you may find yourself scrubbing relentlessly with little or no result. 

Step 4: Rinse. Unlike baking soda, vinegar can continue corroding the bike metal. This means that it needs to be cleaned off thoroughly. A wet cloth just won’t do the job. So you either need a hose or a large jug or bucket. 

The best option is the hose as you can continue to spray and rinse off the vinegar until you are 100% sure that it’s gone. It will also be less time consuming.

If you don’t have a hose, then you can just get a large jug or bucket and fill it with water. Pour the water over the bike.

Keep refilling and repouring until you are sure that there is no vinegar left.

It can be difficult to tell as the power of the hose will be better at forcing the vinegar off. But do your best.

How to Remove Really Thick and Stubborn Rust

If you have tried both of these solutions and the rust still hasn’t gone, then you can always try a chemical rust remover. This is going to be very aggressive so you must make sure your bike is clean of all other substances first.

Adding chemical rust remover to something like baking soda or vinegar can be very dangerous. It will not only damage your bike even further, but it can also cause injuries.

So, there you have a few ways to remove rust from your bike. Remember that all of these substances are themselves corrosive. (This is why they work so well). So be careful and wear protective gloves when using them all. 

Also, remember to try each of these options in the order that we have presented them. Don’t just go straight in with the most aggressive substance. This may result in your causing even more damage to your bike. 

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