How to Clean a Rusty Bike Chain


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Rusty chain can cause you a problem if you want a ride on your bike after a certain period. There’s always a chance to develop rust on the metallic part of a cycle if you keep it outside. Rust can cause your bike’s discoloration and will turn into a significant problem if you are not taken care of it. This is why I’ll let you know about how to clean a rusty bike chain.

You can remove and clean rust in many ways. But if your bike is only suffering surface rust, lime juice/WD-40 will be the right choice for you. It can make your chain look shiny and lucent. Also, you can do it with coke, vinegar, hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide.

Here I’ll let you know about why you need to rust-free your bike chain, what are the advantages of a rust-free chain and method of the cleaning process. Also, before cleaning, you will need to gather some of the tools for continuing the cleaning process smoothly. That’s why you’ll find the tool’s name and their function for the cleaning process. Finally, later part of the article, I’ll answer some of the common questions about the rusty chain and its cleaning method. Hopefully, you’ll stay tuned with me.

Why you Need to Rust-Free your Bike Chain?

A rusty chain is also a dirtier one. It can make your work tough enough, spoil gear shifting and damage the other parts of the drivetrain. Moreover, if you dump oil onto a rusty chain, the chain will be damaged permanently as the oil can make an abrasive paste with rust that can grind away the chain. That’s why you have to rust0-free the chain first. Then you can apply oil, grease or any kind of lubricant. Also, removing rust from a bike drivetrainis a must for every cyclist.

Methods of Cleaninga Rusty Chain

I’ve already told you the name of the methods of cleaning of a rusty chain. Initially, all the methods are the same, and if you know the process of the common cleaning method, you can do rust-free the chain by any methods you want. Here I am going to show you how you can remove rust from the bike’s chain by lime juice/WD-40.

Reconnoiter the Chain First

First of all, you have to inspect the bike’s chain. For that, turn the bike upside. In this process, the bike stands on the seat and handlebar. For removing rust, it is the most effective position for removing rust from the chain.

Also, you can hang the bike on a rack. Bike racks are facile to make from scrap parts. All you have to do is just make a stable frame prepared with hooks and then hang the bike on its wheel. Now, take a close look at your chain. If you find any imperfection in the metal or similar corrosion, you’ll need a new chain. On the other hand, surface rust, crustiness and buildup can be removed.

Finding Out the Master Link Chain

If you have owned a modern cycle, the cycle should have a master link on its chain. The specialty of the link is, you can easily remove the chain. You have to look for a special pin/slot connection. For your information, almost all single speed bike has no master link, so if you do not find any, chances there haven’t any. Also, if you want to join a master link on your bike chain, you can go to a local bike shop adding one.

Taking Few Pictures of the Drivetrain

Before reassembling the chain on the drivetrain, it’s essential to ensure that you know the exact formation of the drivetrain. It’ll help you to reassemble the chain easily. So, you can take a few snaps from various angles of the chain, gears and the sprockets. Moreover, the multiple gear bikes have complicated shifting mechanisms at the wheel. In this case, you have to ensure that you have clear photos of how the chain runs through every part. Remember reinserting the chain on the drivetrain is a must. Otherwise, it can cause a serious injury of you and your cycle won’t work perfectly as well.

Remove the chain from drivetrain

For removing the chain, you can use your hand to slide the pin or slot out. As a result, the chain will be disengaged and then pull it free. If you have no master link, you’ll need to jump a link out of the drive train spikes. After the first chain come out of the spikes, the rest chain can be pulled out easily. You don’t have to get tensed about to rejoin the chain on the drivetrain. All you have to do is just put a link on the spike, and the rest of the chain will be inserted with the revolving of the pedal.

Wetting a rag with degreaser

Now wet out a clean rag with a degreaser. Pass the chain through the rag and clean the grease and buildup. You might have to do vigorous scrubbing. If you find buildup after cleaning with a rag, you will need to take action for this severe buildup. First, fill a bottle with a degreaser and soak the chain there for 20 minutes. After that, rinse the chain into hot water.

UsingSteel Wool Wet

Next, you have to scrub the chain with wet steel wool soaked with lime juice. Scrub the rusty areas with the steel wool and then wipe the surface of the chain with soft fabric or paper surface. As rust is a neutralized and scrubbed free, you can rinse the chain in hot water and then apply the steel wool soaked with lime juice.

Using soapy water

For soaking away the lime juice from the chain, you have to apply soapy water on the surface. As lime juice contains sugar, after drying, it’ll turn into a mess onto your chain. So, don’t forget to wash the chain perfectly with soapy water after using lime juice. You can use little dish soap onto the chain.

Applying WD-40

Now spray WD-40 directly onto the clean rusted surface and the chain section perfectly. You have to give time to dry out the solution on to the chain surface. After that, take a clean brush for scrubbing and scrub away the rust from the chain. After scrubbing away the rust from the form chain, wipe the chain with soft pure fabric and remove rust residue.

Reassemble the Chain on the Drivetrain

Already I’ve told you about the reassembling of the chain. I told you to take some photos of your drivetrain. Now you have to thread on the end of the chain through the drivetrain. As a result it’ll meet its counter end at the top/ bottom midpoint between the wheels. Usually, chain links fit onto the spikes and gears. Thus, it runs smoothly. Any resistance of the chain during pedaling is for the improper insert. You can fix small errors by your fingers, or you might need to reinstall the chain.

Apply lubricant on the chain

Lubricant is a must for a clean chain. Lubricant helps to grow rust and buildup of grime on the chain. Position the nozzle of the dropper on the middle point of the chain. Apply lube and spin the wheels as well. Do not over lube the chain.

Material You Will need Before Cleaning a Rusty Chain

Before fixing the rust out of the chain, you’ll need to gather some tools for your and the bike’s safety. Also, these materials will make you comfortable during work.

Screw Driver

It is needed for removing the chain form the drivetrain. Screw driver will make work easy for popping out the master link chain.

Rubber Gloves

It is not a suggestion; rubber gloves are recommended for you. As the chain and the drivetrain are the dirtiest part of a bike, you can make your hand dirty during the work. Also, rust of the chain can cause some kind of skin damage. For all kinds of bicycle work, gloves are a must.

Chain tool

For chain work, a chain tool can be useful. It is effective for who is weak on bicycle maintenance. But the tool can do an effective job.

Bike Degreaser

For cleaning, the bike’s chain degreaser has an everyday use. Also, for rust off the chain, degreaser does an adequate job.


Gasoline can do a great job of breaking the debris and gunk. Also, gasoline is effective eon breaking the rust down slowly.

Few Rags

Rags do an excellent job of cleaning a bike. For removing the rust and dry out the chain, you have to use two different rags.


1. How can I remove rust off the bike parts?

you can remove rust as I’ve instructed in this article. Also, mixing baking soda with vinegar. Make a paste from them. Then add a little lime juice. Apply the paste on the metallic parts which have rust on it. Wait for 10 minutes and then scrub the areas with a brush. Finally, scrub off the areas with a steel wool brush pad and clean the fields with a clean, soft fabric. Thus, you will see the rust has removed. This is also the solution to how to remove rust from bicycle rims.

2. Is WD 40  rust a lubricant?

WD-40 is rust remover. It is applied for removing the rust from the cycle chain and other parts. WD-40 cut through and dissolve the rust and recapture the surface of bare metal.

3. Does vinegar remove rust?

yes, vinegar does. For more obstinate rust, vinegar does an excellent job. Also, vinegar is a natural product in our household work. That’s why if you haven’t any rust remover, you can use vinegar as a rust remover.

Additional Tips

  • For ensuring the best operation of the chain, you should clean it once a week.
  • Most of the degreasers are harmful to the skin. So, wear gloves before using degreasers.
  • Do not use WD-40 as a lubricant. For lubricant you should use the formulated lubricant only for the bike.
  • Try to align the master link evenly. Unevenly fastened master link can cause the chain to warp.

Final Note

Bike chain rusted solidis a common problem for every biker. That’s why I come up with this details article. Do not reuse the bottle where you dumped the chain. Use an inexpensive and second hand five littles bottle. The rusted chain can also cause damage to the drivetrain of your bike. So do not use a rusty chain. For a smooth ride, you should always do some maintenance on your bike. This process will help you on how to remove rust from handlebars. If you don’t want to increase your cost on your bike, you should do clean the chain on a regular basis.

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