How To Fix a Rusty Bike Chain?

Having a rusty bike chain can be trouble. A rusty chain leads to higher friction than usual, so you’ll have to apply more pressure as well. Plus, these are more prone to failure, and you definitely don’t want them to break while you’re riding them.

Fixing rusty bike chains can be a bit complicated if you’re new to this, but we believe everyone should try fixing these by themselves, doing so will save you some bucks. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can fix a rusty bike chain in detail so that even those who are new to this can do it.

Is A Rusty Bike Chain Bad?

One of the most common questions that we get from people is if it’s okay to ride a bicycle with a rusty chain or not. Well, it depends. Are you okay with the chain snapping anytime in the middle of the road? If the answer is yes, then you’re good to ride a bike with a rusty chain, but you should definitely reconsider your stance.

Riding a bike with a rusty chain isn’t safe at all, so you shouldn’t ride one with a rusty chain unless you absolutely have to. The best thing to do with a rusty chain would be to replace it. However, if you don’t want to spend the extra, there are other ways for you too.

You can always prevent that from happening by removing the rust from the chain. This can be done fairly easily using the WD-40 degreaser. We’ll talk more about that later in this article.

How To Remove Rust From Bike Chain At Home?

There are many ways of removing rust from bicycle chains at home, and we’re going to describe the most popular method in this section. In this method, we will use a degreaser, steel wool, lime juice, and lube to conduct the maintenance. All of the items used in this process are relatively cheap, so you shouldn’t worry too much about the investment.


The chain of the bike gathers a lot of dust and grease over time, especially if the chain is often oiled. So, the first thing to do would be to remove the dust and grease from the chain. To use the dust and grease off of a bike chain, you need to use a degreaser. There are tons of products to choose from, and you’ll find something for yourself regardless of your budget.

To do this, start by flipping the bicycle upside down and make it balance on its handlebars and saddle. If you have a work stand, place it on that. Look for the master link on the chain. The master link is a single chain that looks a bit different than the other chains. Slide the pinout to disconnect the chain.

As you take the chain off, take some degreaser on a wet towel or cloth, and apply it across the whole chain properly. Once you’re done applying it, leave it to dry for some time, and wipe it clean.

If you decide to take the chain off entirely, you can simply soak the chain in a bucket degreaser. However, that would complicate the process. End the process by rinsing the chain in warm water.

Applying Lime Juice

If there’s rust on the chain still, only then you should go with this step. Apply lime juice to the rusty portions of the chain. Once it dries, use a steel wool pad to scrub the rust off. You’ll find that the rust is beginning to dissolve slowly.

Rinse and Dry

Once you’re satisfied with the result, it’s time to rinse the chain with warm water mixed with dish soap. Don’t forget to dry the chain thoroughly after this!

Apply Lube

The last thing to do would be to lube the chain. Lubing the chain will ensure its smoothness that’ll make your cycling experience much more enjoyable. There is a plethora of lubes to choose from, and all of them will perform more or less the same as long as you’re getting something from a reputed brand.

Related reading: Best Bike Lube for Winter – Reviews & Buying Guide

Will WD-40 Remove Rust From Bike Chain?

WD-40 is one of the most popular compounds used for removing rust from bike chains. If your bicycle chain has accumulated some rust, then you can try applying WD-40 for getting rid of it. Applying WD-40 is pretty straightforward. Just apply it with a cloth.

However, make sure to lube the chain afterward. WD-40 acts as a cleaner, and it will clean the grease off of the chain along with the rust, leaving it very dry. Unless you lube it after cleaning the rust, you’ll experience high friction.

How To Get Rust Off A Bike Chain Without WD40?

There are tons of components other than WD-40 that can help you get the rust off of any bicycle chain. We’ve already discussed how you can use a degreaser and lime juice to deep clean bike chains and get rid of the rust. If you have failed to prevent your bike chain from rusting, you can use the following methods.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a mild cleaner and it’s considered to be one of the best rust removers out there. However, this method can be a bit toilsome as it must be done periodically.

To apply baking soda, you need to create a proper mix first. Mix baking soda and water in an equal ratio and keep stirring until it turns into a thick paste.

Apply the paste to the rusty places on the chain using a spatula. Leave the paste for at least 15 minutes for maximizing the effect. Once you’re done drying the paste, scrub it off using a toothbrush, scrub pad, or sponge.

Chemical Rust Remover

There are a lot of powerful chemical rust removers that you can find in chemical stores. These can be used to remove even the heaviest rust buildups. You’ll need to soak the chain in the rust remover for 30 minutes or more, depending on the product you’re using, and wiping the chemical with a cloth should get the job done. Make sure you wash the chain with warm water and dry it afterward.

Coca Cola

Yes, you read that right. Due to its strong acidic properties, Coca-Cola is definitely capable of getting rid of the rust off the chain. To do this, spray some coke on the bicycle chain. Leave it for a bit, and then take a toothbrush with a tinfoil wrap to brush the rust off.

If you don’t want to spray the coke on the chain, you can simply take the chain off and soak it in a container full of Coca-Cola. You’ll need to soak the chain for 10 minutes, and then rinse it with water. This should get rid of minor rust buildup.

Remove Rust From Bike Chain With Vinegar

Vinegar is another amazing component that can help you get rid of the rust off a bike chain. You need to follow the same procedure as Coca-Cola for removing rust with Vinegar.

Spray the vinegar on the rusty places, let it dry for some time, and scrub the rust off with a scrubbing pad. You can also soak the bicycle chain in vinegar for 15 minutes to remove the rust slowly.

Related reading: Can I Use Olive Oil On My Bike Chain?


Understanding how to fix a rusty bike chain is a crucial skill for any cyclist. I’ve explored several methods, each with its unique process and materials needed.

The first method involves using a degreaser, lime juice, and lube. This process starts with degreasing the chain to remove dust and grease, followed by applying lime juice to the rusty parts and scrubbing off the rust with steel wool. After rinsing and drying the chain, the final step is to apply lube for a smoother cycling experience.

I have also discussed the use of WD-40, a popular compound for removing rust from bike chains. However, it’s essential to remember that WD-40 acts as a cleaner and will leave the chain dry, so lubing the chain afterward is necessary.

For those who prefer not to use WD-40, there are alternative methods such as using baking soda, chemical rust removers, Coca-Cola, and vinegar. Each of these methods has its own process and effectiveness, but all can help remove rust from a bike chain.

In my experience, all these methods work great, but using the WD-40 solution is definitely the easiest. However, the best method for you will depend on your comfort level, the materials you have on hand, and the extent of the rust on your bike chain.

A well-maintained bike chain not only enhances your cycling experience but also ensures your safety while riding. So, keep your chain rust-free and enjoy your rides!


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