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Daniel Mesa

How To Clean a Barbell and Remove Rust

before and after barbell

If you are a home gym owner, the chances are that your barbell will begin to develop a coat of rust or patina over the years.

To keep this expensive and important piece of gym equipment in good shape, you probably want to do some basic barbell maintenance once or twice a year. If you need to clean your barbell up or just want to prevent rust, here is a complete guide on a quick and easy method that I used

Supplies You Will Need

You should be able to get these at your local hardware store

  • Your barbell

  • 3 in 1 oil

  • Large bucket

  • White vinegar

  • Baking soda

  • Plastic wrap

  • Paper towels

  • Brass bristle brush or nylon bristle brush

When you to the hardware store, you will see several different types of brushes, make sure to get one of the ones I listed above. The material of the brush matters, if you use something like a steel brush you could damage your barbell and remove some of the knurling.

If you want to be extra, you can also get some gloves and goggles.

How To Clean Barbell

The cleaning process is fairly simple but will require you to let your barbell sit overnight. So keep that in mind if you have time constraints.

Step 1: Remove all debris from the barbell

For this step, just grab your brush and gently remove any loose material or particles from your barbell. You do not need to use lots of force here, the goal is to just prepare the barbell for the next steps.

Step 2: White vinegar soak

For the white vinegar soak, you have basic. For both you will need to let your soak barbell overnight.

Option 1: Deep soak

This option is a bit more involved but is likely the most thorough choice.

To start off, you want to disassemble your barbell according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Next, you want to place the barbell in a large container filled with white vinegar. The barbell and all of its parts should be entirely submerged.

If you are like me and do not have a container large enough to fit an entire barbell, you can use the second option.

Option 2: Paper towel method

The paper towel is very easy, it just requires a bit more work and mindfulness.

  1. Fill a bucket with white vinegar

  2. Lightly soak a paper towel in vinegar and wrap it around your bar

  3. As soon as you place the paper towel on your bar wrap the same section with plastic wrap. If you do not do this quickly, the vinegar will evaporate and cause flash rust on your bar. We want LESS rust, not MORE.

  4. Repeat steps 2-3 until your bar is completely wrapped.

  5. Let your bar sit overnight

Step 3: Get rust and vinegar off

wiping barbell down

For this step, we are going to clean the barbell thoroughly.

Since we have just let the barbell soak in vinegar all night, we have to neutralize it. To do this, just have a spray bottle filled with baking soda and water ready to go. Do not worry too much about the exact ratio of baking soda to water, just make you put plenty in your spray bottle and it should be fine.

Also, be aware that this step can be pretty messy. The mixture of vinegar, oil, and rust can easily stain your floor or any clothing. You may want to lay out a large tarp or do it outside.

Now that you have everything ready, you are going to want to remove all the vinegar paper towels and wrap from your bar. But remember, the risk of flash rust is still here so we have to work quickly.

As soon as your get all the wrap off, start brushing your barbell.

After you have brushed your entire bar, give it a quick rinse with some water to get most of the vinegar off. Then, spray your bar down with the baking soda solution we made earlier. You want to be VERY thorough here, so make sure every part of your bar got sprayed.

If you worked quickly, your barbell should look much better at this point.

Step 4: Oil your bar

barbell oil

Next, you want to dry your bar by wiping it clean with a paper towel.

With your bar dry, add a few drops of 3 in 1 oil to different sections of the bar and brush it in. This is a step where you want to take your time to ensure the oil is everywhere it needs.

If you are doing this right, your bar should begin to look and nice and shiny. The more time you spend on this step, the cleaner it will look at the end.

When you are content with how your bar looks, go ahead and some 3 in 1 oil on a paper towel and give it one last wipe down.

Before and after

Will Cleaning Or Disassembling My Barbell Void My Warranty?

Most reputable brands, do not have warranties that are impacted by cleaning or disassembling. After all, any cleaning such as the options we have laid out here does not have an impact on the structural integrity of the bar.

That being said, you should still check with your manufacturer and make sure.

Why Does My Barbell Rust?

No matter what kind of barbell you get, there is always going to be a risk of rusting over time. Any sort of exposure to water and humidity will lead to rusting.

For garage gym owners, this can be a common problem. Since most garages are not climate-cooled, humid conditions can inside the garage can cause your barbell to oxidize and rust over time.

For most bars, this is a process that can take years before your notice. But if you really want to avoid this, consider storing your barbells somewhere where there is less moisture in the air.

How Often Should I Clean A Barbell?

Barbells for the most part are very durable pieces of equipment that do not require much maintenance. That being said, barbells are expensive and it makes sense to want to take off your equipment.

You probably do not need to do this rust removal process more than once or twice or year depending on what climate you live in and where you store your barbell.

However, there is no harm in rubbing your barbells down with some 3 in 1 oil and a microfiber towel once or twice a month. This is not very time consuming and goes a long way toward preventing rust.

Lastly, you should need to realize that not all barbells are built equally. A top-of-the-line stainless steel bar is less likely to develop rust than cheaper, generic bars.


Barbell cleaning is a fairly simple and easy process. However, it is not something you want to be doing more than once a year.

So to keep your barbell feeling nice and clean, do some regular maintenance every month. At the end of the day, a barbell is just a tool for us to lift weights. With proper care, we can keep this tool in tip-top shape and ready for use to use at any time.


Do I need to clean my barbell?

You do not NEED to but you should from time to time. Barbells are generally very durable but a little bit of maintenance and care can go a long way.

Can you clean a barbell with water?

I would not advise using just water. You should instead use a vinegar-water solution to clean your barbells.

Can you get rust off a barbell?

Yes, you can, Many barbells can be fully restored with a basic cleaning.