A rusty bike can transform a pleasant ride into a bumpy mess or ruin your bike's overall shine. Don't take your bike to a professional to have rust removed - in most cases, you can remove rust from a bike yourself. Depending on the severity of the rust, you can use household items, such as baking soda and vinegar, or cleaning chemicals to do the job. Once the bike has no rust, you can ride it smoothly again.
Method 1 of 3: Use Baking Soda on Minimal Rust
Step 1. Mix baking soda and water in a bowl
Combine a 50/50 part mixture of baking soda and water in a bowl and mix until a thick paste forms. You will need enough paste to cover the rust completely, so keep the container, baking soda, and water on hand in case you need to do more.
- Baking soda is generally the best option for removing minimal rust. More severe rust will respond better to other methods.
- Add a squirt of lemon juice to the paste to boost the removal properties.
Step 2. Place the paste directly on the rust for 15 minutes
Smear the paste on a brush or sponge and apply it to the rusted bike. Don't scrub or remove the paste immediately - it will take time to set and disintegrate the rust. Let the pasta set for 10-15 minutes.
The baking soda paste should be very thick to cover the rusted area well without dripping
Step 3. Scrub the baking soda with a scouring pad
Using a steel wool or plastic bristle brush, scrub the baking soda solution. As you scrub, you should notice the rust disintegrating and peeling off the bike. If you don't see this, add more baking soda paste to the bike and scrub it harder.
Use a toothbrush as an alternative if you don't have scourers
Step 4. Wait 10 minutes before removing the baking soda
After you're done scrubbing, leave the baking soda on the surface for about 10-15 minutes to reach the tough rust. Then remove the paste with a dry microfiber cloth. Make sure the bike is dry to prevent future rust.
- Store your bike in a cool, dry place to prevent rust from reappearing.
- If there is still a bit of rust, repeat the same process or try another method.
Method 2 of 3: Using Vinegar on Tough Rust
Step 1. Pour white vinegar into a spray bottle
White vinegar is good at removing rust because it is more acidic than other varieties. Although you can rub the vinegar directly into the rust on your bike, sprays are great for ensuring an even layer of liquid.
Add a small tablespoon of baking soda to the mixture to make a more corrosive solution
Step 2. Spray or coat the rust on the bike with vinegar
If you put the vinegar in a spray bottle, spray it evenly over the entire rust area. Apply the vinegar with a sponge or aluminum foil ball if you decide to cover it directly. Aluminum foil is very effective because it can also double as a scrub brush while you apply the vinegar.
If you want, you can wet the removable parts of the bike with a vinegar solution as an alternative
Step 3. Rinse the vinegar off the bike after 10-15 minutes
Vinegar can continue to eat away at the metal of the bike after removing the rust. To prevent this from happening, use a hose to wash the bike after the rust has dissolved.
If the vinegar doesn't remove the rust, you may need to use a chemical cleaner
Step 4. Dry the bike before putting it back into storage
Leaving the bike wet can cause the rust to come back. Rub the bike with a cloth dipped in denatured alcohol to remove any excess rust. Store your bike in a cool, dry place to prevent future rust from forming.
Method 3 of 3: Try a Chemical Rust Remover
Step 1. Use chemical rust remover if another method doesn't work
In some cases, household products may not be strong enough to remove rust. Try using baking soda and vinegar first, but if neither works, buy a rust remover from your nearest hardware store or bike store.
Don't mix chemical removers with baking soda, vinegar, citric acid, or other cleaners. Some mixes can be deadly
Step 2. Put on protective gloves and goggles before using rust remover
Rust removers are more powerful to use than other methods and can damage your eyes or skin. Read the instruction label carefully before use to make sure you use it wisely. If the cleanser makes contact with your eyes or skin, rinse it off well and contact a poison control for further instructions.
Avoid using chemical cleaners in tight spaces. Open a window or door to ventilate the room and leave the room immediately if you feel dizzy
Step 3. Brush the chemical cleaner onto the surface as directed
How long you leave the cleaner on the surface will depend on the chemical. Suggested times can range from 30 minutes to overnight. Read the prompts for specific instructions and follow them carefully for best results.
If you need a cleaner that removes rust quickly, read the directions on the label while in the store and choose one with a quick dry time
Step 4. Remove the cleaner after the suggested time has passed
Since chemical cleaners are corrosive, wipe it off completely after all rust has been removed. Store leftover cleaners where you store other chemicals in case you need to remove more rust later.
Discard the cloth after use to prevent contaminating other fabrics
- Clean your bike first, removing all dirt and debris, before you start using rust removal methods.
- Vinegar and baking soda are the cheapest rust removal methods.
- Keep your bike dry and store it in a cool, dark place to prevent rust from reappearing.
- Waterproof the bike to prevent future rust.