How to Remove Rust from a Bicycle

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When our son turned two year old we decided to buy him this sweet ride-on tricycle. We bought this trike with the specific goal of having it for years to come so I needed to know how to remove rust from a tricycle (and bikes – you should see my daughter’s poor bicycles!).

Riding TrikeHis new bike was shiny and beautiful when we first bought it! But, we live in an apartment and don’t have room to store it inside our home (nor do we want to really) so it got rusty as the wind blows the rain onto our little front patio, especially when it downpours.

I looked up a few different tips online for rust removal ideas and solutions. Some seemed overly complicated, or involved some heavy duty cleaners or chemicals. While I am not necessarily opposed to chemicals for cleaning purposes, why not opt for more natural cleaners, especially if they work awesome? Plus, they are usually much cheaper.

I decided to try out two different methods using some of my favorite natural cleaners – baking soda and vinegar.

how to remove rust from chrome bikeHow to Remove Rust with Baking Soda

To remove rust from a bike with baking soda, make a 50/50 paste of water and baking soda. Apply it to the rust on the chrome parts of the bike with a scrubby Viva® Towel. The Viva® Vantage® has a scrubby texture, like a terrycloth which is great for getting scrubbing stovetops, patio furniture, and other grimy surfaces.  If you need a little more strength, try using a piece of crumbled up tinfoil.Great DIY Cleaning Tutorial on Removing rust from a boy's tricycle with baking soda

Using baking soda worked okay, but it wasn’t blowing me away, especially in comparison to the following method!

Great DIY Cleaning Tutorial on Removing rust from a boy's tricycle with vinegar!How to Remove Rust with Vinegar

If you want to remove rust with vinegar instead of baking soda, grab a little dish and pour some vinegar into it, crumble up a piece of tin foil, then dip the tin foil into the vinegar dish. The vinegar soaked tin foil becomes your scrub brush. Dip it back into the vinegar as necessary as you continue to remove rust.Great DIY Cleaning Tutorial on Removing rust from a boy's tricycle with vinegarWhen the rust is removed, you can dry it with a Viva Towel to ensure a beautiful chrome shine! You can choose which of two types of everyday towels to use, as both work like cloth to stand up to any cleaning job. I used the Viva® Towels that have a signature soft and smooth texture, like an undershirt cloth. It’s ideal for cleaning delicate surfaces like countertops and coffee tables.

I was really impressed with how well vinegar worked! And it was very easy. And cheap. I finished removing rust from the rest of his bike and it looked so much better than it did before.

If you want to see how else you can use Viva Towels to #UnleashClean around your home, check out how Monica Potter and the Boys and Girls Club teamed up with Viva to help families in need.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


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  1. says

    Rust is the rotten metal itself. Cleaning like that with vinegar will make it shine for a while, but the rust will return soon and faster this time.

  2. SherriAnn says

    Hello, I enjoyed the tips, and I wanted to inquire as to whether or not you used the aluminum and vinegar on only the silver chrome area, or if you utilized it on the colored portions of the bike as well? If so, was there a variation in color difference? Also, were you able to find out if the previous commentary from “Jim,” was regarding a regular clear oil polyacrylic or which paint he is referring too?
    My apologies for all of the questioning, however, I am trying to restore a vintage antique Schwinn, and I definitely don’t want to mess her up. Thank you in advance for the advice!

    • says

      You can use the vinegar on the paint, though maybe not with the tinfoil, just a cloth or paper towel. That’s what I did, and the painted part still looks great more than a year later. However, you do need to somehow “seal” the metal from future rusting, because it totally comes back, and worse. I am NOT sure what type of paint or product to use, but have wanted to try out a few myself, on this same trike, which is again very rusted at the moment. However, I keep the trike outside all the time (no garage either) so it’s going to rust. That’s life. Anyway, I don’t know what to tell you about the Schwinn! Sounds like a fun project for sure!

  3. Pat says

    Vinegar is an acid so it will attack the metal if not neutralized using a base, baking soda. So acid clean neutralize then wash to remove the salt left behind, dry thoroughly then coat with either a clear varnish or a high quality carnuba wax. The wax will need to be redone every couple of years. This is how I keep my cast iron table saw clean, I live a mile from the ocean.

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