What to Use to Get Rust off a Bike

A rusty bicycle not only looks bad but it can be squeaky and not perform at its best. There is no set-in-stone way to remove rust from a bicycle or its components, but several home methods can help you clean up your bike.

A rusty bicycle. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Citric Acids

According to the "Farmers Almanac," citric acid, such as in lemons and limes, can dissolve rust. Start by pouring some citric acid onto a sponge, steel wool pad or rag and simply rub or scrub the rust off the bike. After you have scrubbed the bike clean, wipe it down with a towel or rag to get off any extra residue, because letting citric acid sit too long can lead to damaged metal, according to the "Farmers Almanac."


According to Science Articles and Inventions Online, many carbonated beverages will remove rust because the phosphoric acid in Coke will dissolve the rust. Science Articles also notes that rust is dissolved by Coke quickly but the Coke does little damage to the metal structure. You can pour Coke on the rusted parts of your bike and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping off the excess rust and residue.


According to the Morton Salt website, mixing up a paste of salt and lime or lemon juice will clean the rust from bicycle handlebars and rims. Morton advises you to mix six tablespoons of salt with two tablespoons of juice in order to make a paste. Then, rub that paste on to the rusty parts of the bike. Let it sit for a while and then rinse and wipe the bike dry.


According to "The Farmers Almanac," the acetic acid in white vinegar can dissolve rust. The Almanc advises you to pour the vinegar directly over the rust spots and wait for the rust to dissolve. You can also pour vinegar on a sponge, scrubbing pad or rag to help scrub the rust off bike chains or rims. "The Farmers Almanac" says that you should rinse the bike well after using vinegar to prevent the acid from damaging the metal of the bike.

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