How to Remove Rust From a Bike Chain – Best Methods To Fix a Rusty Chain

In this article, we will you how to get rid of rust on the bike chain with a simple guide and give you some tips on bike maintenance.
John Watson
John Watson
John is an experienced cycling enthusiast and a great asset when it comes to writing skills. He's a Bachelor of Arts and a talented journalist. John is in charge of our blog read more
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Jessica Kingston
Jessica Kingston
Expert Consultant
Jessica is our expert consultant on all things connected to biking - gear, technique, you name it. Being a pro cyclist in the past, she knows exactly how things work in and read more
Last updated: August 13, 2023
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There’s a lot that can cause you to be devastated when using or maintaining your bike, but cyclists hate a case of rusty bike chains. Your shiny and attractive bike chain can turn into something ugly, which is not a sight you want to see.

Although having rust on your bike chain is something you don’t want to see, it is still an inevitable happening that would show up sooner than later. It should happen later than sooner, and once it does, then you would need to know how to remove rust from a bike chain.

Taking care of your bike chain regularly Trusted Source Top ten tips for looking after your bike | Cycling UK 1. Little and often is good Give your bike a little TLC. A regular check-over and a squirt of oil helps to keep problems at bay. 2. Just ride your bike Riding your bike gets all the moving parts working and can delay and reduce problems. 3. Learn the simple check – it’s as simple as A B C A is for air – keep the tyres pumped up and check the wheels go round unimpeded. If they is important and can help you delay the rusting, but since it would happen after a while, you need to know how to remove it so that your bike goes back to working effectively. In this guide, we would take a look at how to get the rust off a bike chain.

How to Clean a Rusty Bike Chain?

If you wonder how to clean a rusted bike chain, then there are different ways. Once you notice the rust on it, regardless of what you do, you need to ensure that you take care of your bicycle. Don’t do anything that can cause scratches or any other damage when cleaning rust off the bike chain. 

People often ask whether chain lube removes rust or doesn’t. And the answer is yes.

The main way to clean a rusty bike chain is with bike chain oil. As long as the rust is on your chain, the first solution to the problem is adding bike chain lube properly on it. After adding the oil and wiping it with a rag, you can then ride the bike a bit so that the surface rust starts to wear off.

When oiling your rusty bicycle chain, the best thing to do is take it slow. Put a drop of lube on each link, and then wipe it thoroughly with a cloth. Doing this for the entire bike chain would take a while, but it would be worth it. Soaking your bike chain with oil won’t do you any good.

Since there’s a good chance that adding lube to a rusty bike chain would solve the problem once and for all, you should go for high-quality ones. There are different types of bike chain oil out there, so consider an extensive range of factors before purchasing.

Apart from this, you can also go for some alternative solutions to your rusty bike chain. So how to fix a rusty bike chain? Here are several methods:

Baking Soda

How to Remove Rust From a Bike Chain - Best Methods To Fix a Rusty Chain

One popular alternative that you can go for when removing rust from your bike chain is baking soda. You can quickly pop in your kitchen and grab one to rid your bike chain of all the rust. If you do it the right way, your bike will come out unscathed, and the rust would fade away quickly. It works for minor and severe bike chain rust.

The first thing to do is the baking soda with water until it becomes a thick paste. The two of them should be of equal amounts, but the baking soda can be more if the bicycle chain rust is severe. The amount of paste that you use is depending on how much rust you’re dealing with.

After mixing it, you should apply the paste to the rusted areas of your bike. You can use a spatula-like tool to do this and spread it around to all the affected parts. When you apply it, leave it there for up to 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, you can scrub it off with scrub pads or a sponge. As the dried baking soda comes off, the rust would also fall off. You can repeat the process until you get rid of all the rust.


How to Remove Rust From a Bike Chain - Best Methods To Fix a Rusty Chain

The next piece of advice on how to remove rust from a bicycle chain is to use the WD40 spray. It is another good alternative to bike chain lube for your rusty chains is the WD40 Trusted Source . It is a multi-purpose chemical that works very well in removing rust from different surfaces, including bikes, without damaging the main body of the bike.

It’s important to note that the WD40 is not a lubricant, but a cleaner, so you would still need to lubricate your bike chain afterward for it to move swiftly. You should only use it to remove the surface rust from the metal parts and lubricate it afterward.

Chemical Rust Remover

How to Remove Rust From a Bike Chain - Best Methods To Fix a Rusty Chain

Our next tip on how to clean and take rust off a bike chain is to use a chemical remover when removing rust from the bicycle chain. If you’re an avid bike rider, it would be useful if you have this tool in your box along with other things that you use to take care of your bike. It’s important to note that the chemical bike chain rust remover shouldn’t be mixed with any other solution, or it can damage the body of your bike.

When working with a chemical bicycle chain rust remover, you should focus on safety first before any other thing. Use gloves and glasses, as they are not as mild as the other alternatives on this list. You should also read the instructions on the rust remover before buying or applying it.

Once you’re set, you can apply the chemical remover to your bike chain. Get a brush and put the remover on the rusted parts of your bike chain. You should read the instructions given by the manufacturer because you might have to leave it on the chain for thirty minutes to one whole night. Disobeying the instructions would damage your bike.

After the allowed time, you can wipe it off with a cloth while wearing your gloves thoroughly. You should also throw the cloth out afterward. Wash your bike with warm water and a chain and gear cleaner concentrate after this, dry it, and store it in a clean place.


How to Remove Rust From a Bike Chain - Best Methods To Fix a Rusty Chain

The final recommendation on our list on how to derust or unrust a bike chain is vinegar (if you can’t get vinegar, you can go for Coca-Cola instead). Vinegar has a potent acetic property that makes it easy to remove rust from your bike chain.

One way you can apply the vinegar to your bike chain is through a spray bottle. Pour the vinegar into the bottle and spray it on your bike chain, depending on how big the bike is and how much rust you’re dealing with. Then, use a small brush with tinfoil to scrub off the rust hard, and you would see them fall off.

You can also remove the bike chain and soak it completely in a vinegar solution so that the rust falls off. You should leave it for about 10 minutes so that it doesn’t corrode the metal.

If vinegar alone isn’t working out for you, you can add baking soda to the solution, as it would make the vinegar way stronger. But, don’t put too much, or it would damage your bike chain. Spray and scrub until it removes the rusty areas.

How to Prevent Rust on Bikes

There are different ways you can prevent rust on your bike, especially if you notice that they are beginning to appear on your bike chain. Even if the iron oxiding is natural, it’s better to take care of your bike properly so that it doesn’t turn into an extreme case of destroyed bike chains before you know it.

When you notice surface rust on your bike, there are a few causes. Here are a few ways to prevent rust from building up on your bike.

Keep Your Bike Oiled

How to Remove Rust From a Bike Chain - Best Methods To Fix a Rusty Chain

As a bike rider, an important part of your toolbox is the bike chain lube set, which is important in the maintenance of your bike. Your bike chain and every other part of your bike that moves a lot, especially if it is exposed to different elements, should be lubricated after every ride. Keeping your bike chain oiled and wiping it down would be useful in preventing iron oxide.

Store Your Bike Indoors

You can protect your bike chain and other metal parts of the bike by keeping it indoors whenever you’re not riding it. Storing it indoors prevents the different kinds of elements and harsh weather from touching it. The storage room should be clean and dry too, so that it doesn’t develop rust quickly. You don’t want to find your bike chain rusted overnight.

Wipe Your Bike Down After It Rains

To prevent your bike chain rust after rain, you should wipe it down immediately after the ride out in rain to prevent rust and damage. Make sure it’s dry before you store it. You can easily use a rag to wipe the bicycle down, especially parts like the chain and brake components.

Clean Your Bike after Riding it on Rough Areas

How to Remove Rust From a Bike Chain - Best Methods To Fix a Rusty Chain

After hauling your bike and driving it on rough roads like the highway, which has a lot of gravel, salt, and grime, you should clean your bike afterward. Cleaning it after would prevent corrosive elements on your bike, so you can just wipe it down with an old rag.

Be Careful about Sweat

Your sweat can also cause rust on your bike, especially around the places where the sweat from your face would drip. You can place a towel on the stem area of the bike to stop sweat from dripping on the important places. This is especially important when you use an indoor bike trainer.

Tips and Advice

Now that you know how to clean a rusty bike chain, there are some important tips and rewards that you have to keep in mind. Here are some tips that would help you out:

  • If your bike chain is rusty, you might be wondering whether you should buy a new one or clean it. Some people say that you cleaning the rust is a waste of time, but it depends on the situation. If the bike chain is rusted beyond repair, then you should replace it instead.
  • When lubricating your bike chain, you should take care of it link after link instead of spraying the oil all over it and hoping it becomes lubricated.
  • It’s important to inspect your bike chain often because you never know when the chain might be rusted. This is the same for the other moving parts on your bicycle.
  • You should use a dry lube whenever you plan to use your bike in dry places because it would prevent dust and debris from building up on the chain. But for muddy and moist conditions, you should go for wet lube instead, as they stick to the chain regardless of the situation.


How often should I apply lube on my bike chain?

The number of times you put lube on your bike chain depends on two factors. The first is where you ride it, as rougher trails would be harsh on your bike. The second is how often you use your bike, which is the main factor. If you use your bike up to three times a week, check the lube once a month. You should also check the drivetrain often and clean it when needed.

If you ride in mud, rain, dirt, and snow, you should oil your bike chain immediately after your ride so that you can prevent iron oxide altogether. You should also apply lube whenever you notice that the chain is creaking.

How much does a new bike chain cost?

If the bike chain is heavily and severely rusted, you shouldn’t bother with cleaning it. The rust can even affect other parts of your bike. Instead, replace it altogether.

If you’re considering buying a new bike chain instead of derusting the one you have, you can buy a new bike chain. A good bike chain would cost between $20 and $50, although you can spend as high as $100 if your bike is high-end. If you ask a repairman to fix it for you, you would also spend an additional $10 to $15.

Are there other alternatives for a bike chain lube?

If you want to lubricate your bike chain, you should use bike chain oil and nothing else. Don’t consider other products that look like bike chain lube, like motor oil or Vaseline. Instead, stick to high-quality lubes.

Final Thoughts

Rust accumulating on your bike chain would happen sooner or later, so you can find the maintenance process as part of your biking experience. You can find the different products you need and keep the right tools in your biking supplies so that whenever you notice rust on your bike chain, you can take care of it quickly. Regardless of how you take care of your rusty bike chain, you should always end the process with lubricant. Hope you found our guide on how to remove rust from a bike chain useful!


Top ten tips for looking after your bike | Cycling UK
1. Little and often is good Give your bike a little TLC. A regular check-over and a squirt of oil helps to keep problems at bay. 2. Just ride your bike Riding your bike gets all the moving parts working and can delay and reduce problems. 3. Learn the simple check – it’s as simple as A B C A is for air – keep the tyres pumped up and check the wheels go round unimpeded. If they

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