im new at biking and my dad has this very old bike that is very rusty. I got interested in biking just this year and ive been biking a lot.

I usually clean my bike eith a damp cloth and wipe it.

I saw lots of tutorials in youtube and right there it says i should use a hose or water.

Im worried that my bike will get rusty with the water because my dad said he cleaned his bike with water so im super worried. Will it rust ?

btw. The rust is nowhere to be found in he frame but the rust is in the crank, chain and wheels

  • I'm not quite sure what you're asking here, but after using e.g. water to wash the bike, you then dry it so as to avoid rusting. But it sounds like you also have issues with other parts which are already rusty, which you should probably address. Going to a shop and having them service the bike would probably work wonders
    – PeteH
    May 18, 2015 at 9:20
  • A rusty chain is a sign that chain has not been properly lubricated. Rust on other parts is generally due to storage in damp conditions (and rust on crank and wheels suggests the bike is not an expensive one, as these components would be made of aluminum on a more expensive bike). You may use soap and water to clean the bike, just be sure to not direct a spray from a hose at any of the bearings or, eg, into the brake levers or shifters, where it would get into the cables. And dry thoroughly afterwards. (And learn how to properly lubricate the chain.) May 18, 2015 at 12:03
  • BTW, keeping a bike clean is NOT necessary. I only wash my bike when I fear the weight of the dirt is slowing me down. (Though you should also wash the bike if you get road salt on it.) May 18, 2015 at 13:34

3 Answers 3


Everybody uses water to clean bikes. It should not get rusty from that, especially if you dry it afterwards.

If the bike is rusty like you describe then more likely from being exposed to water for much longer times than washing would (used in rain, standing outside all very often). Some parts are more likely to get rusty, chains and cranks for example since they are not painted and not made of stainless steel (the frame should be ok as long as the paint is). Also lack of proper lubing will make it more likely that those parts rust, the chain would normally have a thin layer of oil that protects it. For that you don't need to oil the whole chain, just the inside (as you will find recommended in many videos) and then wipe off the excess oil and this will leave enough oil on the outside.

So the rust you see seems to be the typical parts that get easily rusty on old bikes or bikes that were not properly serviced for a long time. Don't worry too much about it, clean your bike with water and just see to it to wipe away most of it and put it in a dry place afterwards where it dries fast.

There are more things that can help avoid rust on such parts like wax based lubricants. But not sure if those are worth it.

What you actually want to avoid are steam/pressure washers. Those have the additional risk to bring water in places where water from a hose would not be a problem (especially the cables).


Clean the bike with warm water and soap. Car soap works great but dish soap is also a good option. Don't be afraid to clean those really greasy and black areas thoroughly.

As for the rust on the crank and wheels, this suggests those parts are chromed (one-piece crank, perhaps?) therefore the rust you see is most likely surface rust; a layer of minerals containing oxidized iron on top of the chrome since chrome doesn't rust. For this I suggest using fine steel wool like SOS steel wool soap pads or Bull Dog steel wool pads. I find SOS works best due to the soap it contains as it cleans the parts at the same time, but you could add soap to Bull Dog pads of course. You can also use aluminum foil; make a ball and start rubbing your chromed parts. In all cases, you want to use something than is harder then the rusty minerals stuck on the chrome but not as hard as chrome so you won't scratch it. And use plenty of soapy water, don't go at it dry!

While you're at it, clean the spokes the same way; they're likely stainless steel and dull (unless they're painted, of course.) You can go harder on the spokes.

If you can, take off the wheels to clean them; it'll be a lot easier than when they're still on the bike.

Now about the chain, it is also probably surface rust. But due to all the links and pivots, it can be hard to get rid of all the rust without giving it a bath in acid. Just get a new chain, they're cheap and you know chain wear won't be an issue.

For the really greasy parts on the chainrings, derailleurs and sprockets, I like to use Varsol paint thinner or mineral spirits. A toothbrush can come in handy.

Cleaning the exterior of the bike is step one. If you like riding it, next step would be to disassemble the crankset, hubs and pedals (if they allow it). Degrease the ball bearings, cups and cones (paint thinner) and re-grease them with new fresh grease :) If you don't have the tools and/or know how/interest to do it yourself, bring the bike to your local bike shop. Since you already cleaned most of the bike, they shouldn't charge you a lot to work on the bearings.

Last thing; if the bike is very old, the tires and inner tubes are probably due for a change as well. Even if they seem to hold a good pressure, don't go too far without a complete puncture kit that includes a tire boot. Look it up.

Spending time and money on restoring old bicycles is about fun and acquiring experience. Unless it's a very valuable, sought after bike, whatever money you spend on an old bicycle won't add to its value. But if you do it for pure fun as a hobby or to learn the trade of bicycle mechanic, it can be all worth it. Just beware of spending a fortune on tools like I did!


Stay away from gasoline for now. Many bicycle parts contain some internal grease/lubricant, and gasoline can get inside and dissolve the grease, so that they are no longer lubricated and protected against rust.

You see advice on the internet to use gasoline, alcohol, WD40 or other stuff. People have different opinions about that, so I don't want to dismiss it, but you should know what you're doing and which parts can be damaged. For beginners, best stick to water, then dry and put some lubricant on the chain and other moving parts.

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