How to Remove Rust on Bicycles

Updated April 17, 2017

As bicycles age, they have a tendency to rust. Rust often appears on the bike chain, fenders and handlebars. Luckily, most rust is removable. Here are some ways to remove rust from your bicycle.

Understand what causes rust. Rust is created by a chemical reaction between water and steel or iron. When steel or iron becomes wet or damp, the water on the surface and the oxygen in the air create an acid. This acid eats away at (or through) the iron or steel, thus creating rust.

Know that prevention is the key. Be sure to keep your bicycle out of rain or wetness. If your bike gets wet after a ride in the rain or through sprinklers, wipe it down and dry it off with a soft towel.

Use a steel-wool pad and metal polish to remove the rust. You can get most rust off your bike if it hasn’t eaten through the metal and isn’t peeling. (If it’s peeling, you can’t get it off.) Coat the steel-wool pad with liquid metal polish. Scrub until you see the brown spots disappear. Use a back-and-forth motion, avoiding circular scrubbing. With circular scrubbing, scratches are more visible. You can also use WD-40 instead of the metal polish.

Or, use a wet SOS pad. Get an SOS pad wet, and scrub the rust spots until they disappear. Use a back-and-forth motion when scrubbing, not a circular motion.

Or, use a Scotchbrite pad and WD-40. Moisten the Scotchbrite pad with WD-40 and scrub away. Again, be sure to use back-and-forth motions, not circular motions.

Or, use aluminium foil. Fold the aluminium foil a few times and dip it into water. Scrub in a back-and-forth motion. You can also use foil that has been crumpled into a ball, but it is easier to handle if it is just folded.

Polish the bike with the metal polish once you've scrubbed off the rust. Use a rag or old T-shirt to buff the bike. Your bike should look like new! Once it’s nice and shiny, put your bike away. Keep it out of a wet or damp environment.


Prevention is the key to avoiding rust on your bicycle. Keep it out of the rain or other damp places. Polish it with metal polish every now and then. Remove the rust when it’s still on the surface. Don’t wait until it eats through the metal or starts flaking—by then it will be too late!

Things You'll Need

  • Fine steel-wool pad
  • Metal polish or WD-40
  • SOS pad
  • Scotchbrite pad
  • Aluminum foil
  • Rag, towel or T-shirt
  • Bicycle
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Shannon Steen-Larsen earned a bachelor's degree in marriage, family, and human development, with a minor in business management. She loved to write in school and has been writing for Demand Studios for over a year. She has her own blog and also writes for online networks including SheSpeaks, SheBlogs, Family Review Network, Mom Central, MyBlogSpark, Team Mom, and One2One Network.