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how to remove rust from bike chain

How To Remove Rust From Bike Chain

Rust is something you don’t want to have on your bike. The constant movement of riding your bike will rust parts. This movement could ally damage your bike if left untreated.

Bike chains are particularly prone to rust and are a nightmare if you don’t treat them properly. Rust can make the chain feel stiff and powerless.

You can still make your chain look good as new. Follow this guide on how to remove rust from bike chains using a natural or chemical process. 

What Causes Bike Chains to Rust?

Many factors can cause a bike chain to rust. The most common are:


Rain is the biggest culprit. But water from other sources, such as puddles, ponds, and lakes, can also cause rusting.


Dust and dirt cause friction between the chain links. This increase the likelihood of rust occurring.


If you live in a location with salty air or roads, you need to take extra care. Do not let your chain get wet or dirty, so it doesn’t rust.

Here’s another cause: 

The oil used in lubricating bicycle chains contains sulfur compounds that can help prevent corrosion by inhibiting oxidation reactions between iron atoms and oxygen molecules.

However, these sulfur compounds can break down over time and expose the iron atoms directly to air. 

Also, if enough water is present on the surface of a metal object, it will help dissolve any existing rust off its surface before it can form an oxide layer.

Are Rusted Bike Chains Dangerous to Ride?

While a rusty bike chain may look bad, riding with one is not usually dangerous. But you should take care of your chain if it’s starting to get rusty.

Read on to learn how to remove rust from your bike chain. This could show that your bike that needs attention.

Why Remove Rust from Bike Chain

A bike chain can suffer from rust if it isn’t cleaned regularly or if you ride in wet conditions. The safest and best way to avoid this is by keeping your chain clean after every ride.

There are more things you can do now to help bring it back to its former glory!

Efficient and Safe

You can use chemicals, a machine, or sandpaper. The method you choose should be one that does not damage the paint on your bike, and that does not take a lot of time.

You can also use something like Simple Green which contains pine sol/dish soap as an ingredient. Make sure it doesn’t contain ammonia! You’ll need to spray this onto your chain and wipe it off with a rag or paper towel until all rust disappears.


  • Inspect the entire bike chain for deep rust.
  • Check both sides of the chain, as well as each roller, for deep rust.
  • Check your chain pins and links for any signs of corrosion or pitting in the metal.
  • Look closely at where you would expect to see rust—between chains and around sprockets. Inspect them thoroughly with a flashlight if necessary. If you doubt how much rust is present, replace your entire drivetrain immediately.

Clean with WD-40 or Rubbing Alcohol

If you don’t have the corrosive cleaner on hand, WD-40 is a good rust remover. It’s safe to use on a bike chain. You can also buy it at most hardware stores. But, if you’re looking for a more powerful option, we recommend rubbing alcohol instead. Rubbing alcohol is an even stronger solvent that will dissolve the rust from your bike chain much faster than WD-40.

Soak Rusted Parts in Coca-Cola

Coca-cola can also work magic for your rust from bike chains. Before cleaning the chain, please remove it from your bike and soak it in Coca-Cola. The caffeine in the cola will help remove any stubborn rust spots that may stick to the chain.

Follow these simple steps:

  • Put some cola into a container or bowl, then add water until you have about 1/3 cup of liquid per liter of cola (i.e., 3/4 cup total).
  • Soak your bike chain for 1 hour. Next, take it out and rinse any excess liquid with warm water. You can also just let it sit overnight if you don’t mind leaving your rust removal project overnight.
  • Dry off with a cloth. Voila! Your rust-covered bike chain should look new again!

Scrub Rusted Parts with Steel Wool

Another way to scrub off that rusted bike chain is to use steel wool. Make sure that you use soft steel wool. Scrubbing your chain with a hard or abrasive scrubber will remove the lacquer. That will leave your chains vulnerable to rusting again.

Use circular motions, not back-and-forth motions. Scrubbing in a circular motion will help you get into all the nooks and crannies of your bike chain. This is essential to removing rust effectively.

Add some water or oil as you’re scrubbing. Remember that too much water can make things go wrong quickly here. But too little, and you’ll scratch it up even more than its already rusted state! That can prevent proper lubrication of your chain.

In general, avoid adding any liquid until after you’ve begun scrubbing. You would want everything wetted out before putting pressure on those metal links.

Remember not to use excessive force while using this tool. It’s designed for cleaning purposes rather than heavy-duty rust removal operations!

Clean it with White Vinegar

How to remove rust from bike chains using white vinegar? The process is straightforward but does need some patience.

First, add equal parts of water and vinegar to a bowl or bucket. Then, submerge the bike chain in this solution to contact the metal of the chain link itself. Let it soak for several hours—longer if you want to get more serious about cleaning out all that dirt and grime.

Afterward, remove the bike chain from its soaking bath and wipe down any excess material with a rag or towel. If there’s still rust on either side of the links, repeat this process until they’re both shiny bright!

Use the Mixture of Water and Dish Soap

  • Mix 1/4 cup of dish soap with 1 gallon of water.
  • Use a brush to scrub the chain and rinse it off with water once you’ve finished cleaning.
  • Dry it with a paper towel or a clean cloth to prevent rust spots from forming again.

If all else fails, try rubbing peanut butter into the spot where the rust has built up on your bicycle chain. The oils from this spreadable treat will help break down any grime.

It will also remove stains left behind by corrosive road salts or rainwater residue. Don’t worry – once dry (and wiped clean), no one will notice these.

Protecting your Bike from Rust

Keeping your bike dry and clean is the best way to protect your bike from rust. Always store your bike indoors in a dry place when you’re not riding it, and wipe it down with oil or wax after each ride. You should also remove any dirt or debris between the links before storing them. This will avoid moisture or rainwater hanging up in your garage or shed.

I hope that you’ve found these tips helpful! You have it: A complete guide to keeping your bike’s chain rust-free. If you’re looking for more information on cleaning your bike, check out our other articles about how to clean a mountain bike

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