Informational Guide

How To Clean & Maintain A Barbell

After spending good money on a barbell, the last thing you want is for it to rust. We look at the best ways to clean it here.


After spending your hard-earned cash on a good barbell, the last thing you want is for it to rust. Keeping all of your gym equipment clean is vital for hygiene purposes and to help increase performance. This guide will help readers learn how to clean and maintain a barbell so you’ll have it in tip-top shape for longer.

Regular maintenance on a barbell will allow the bar to continue to perform at its optimum for longer. It’s one of the pieces of gym equipment that has moving parts, so it often invites rust and corrosion to happen.

Whether your barbell is coated with black oxide, chrome, or zinc, you'll still need to maintain your bar so you can exercise at home. We can help you overcome maintenance issues with our cleaning techniques listed below. But first, let's look at some common causes of barbell rust.

How To Clean A Rusty Barbell

Why is my Barbell Rusting? Causes of Barbell Rust

  • Climate 
    The biggest factor for rust forming on your workout bar is due to the climate. If the humidity is above 65%, corrosion can occur
  • The Number of Users 
    The more user’s there are, the more moisture your barbell is exposed to. Moisture, oxygen, and chalk mixed together is the perfect recipe for rust to form. 
  • Bar Finish 
    A bare stainless steel barbell will rust quicker than a barbell with a finish. Coatings such as chrome or zinc will have a better level of protection against elements like humidity and moisture.
  • Salt 
    If you live near saltwater or you enjoy lifting some weight right after a swim, your barbell is more susceptible to rust. Salt increases the rate of oxidation on steel, so corrosion will take place.
  • Chalk 
    Chalk absorbs the moisture from your hands, and that moisture will remain and cause damage to your barbell if you don’t clean your equipment well after every use.

How to Clean and De-Rust a Barbell: Step by Step Guide

It is possible to restore a barbell from a rusty state with just a few steps. You will need some supplies to complete the task. Be sure to have a bucket, white vinegar, baking soda, paper towels, 3-1 oil, and a steel or brass brush on hand.

  1. 1
    Initial Brushing  
    Remove any loose dirt or rust with a quick brush. We recommend a brass brush for this first step, but a steel brush will work just fine. The process shouldn’t take longer than 2-4 minutes (depending on the size of your barbell).
  2. 2
    Soaking Stage  
    Pour the white vinegar into a large basket and begin to soak your paper towels in the bucket. Once they’re saturated, begin to wrap the towel around each section of the rusted barbell and leave it overnight. This will lift the rust without damaging it any further.
  3. 3
    Brushing Stage   
    There are 3 steps within 1 in this stage. First, remove the paper towels and brush off any rust immediately. Then rinse the vinegar off and neutralize it by spraying a prepared bottle of baking soda and water. By doing this in a fast manner, you’ll neutralize the acidic vinegar and prevent flash rust from forming.
  4. 4
    Oil It Up  
    Now it’s time to dry your barbell with paper towels. Once it’s completely dry, apply a few drops of 3-1 oil to each section on your bar. It’s important to brush the oil thoroughly until you get it as clean as you like. 
  5. 5
    Wipe & Repeat  
    The final step is to wipe down the bar and examine your work. If you’re unhappy with the results, then add some more oil and repeat step 4 until you’re satisfied. Finish the process by adding some 3-1 oil onto a paper towel and wipe the bar one final time. This will stop rust from forming in the future

Tips on how to Keep a Barbell Rust-free

Clean the Chalk Out of the Knurling

Remove stubborn, heavy chalk by adding a few drops of an oil-based lubricant to the knurling and brush thoroughly with a stiff brush. Once this step is complete and all of the chalk is gone, wipe the oil clean off with a paper towel. This will help protect your barbell against corrosion, and it will have a positive impact on sleeve spin.

Wipe Down Your Weightlifting Bar

This simple technique will extend your weight lifting bar's lifespan, and it doesn't take long to do. You simply use a wire brush for 20-30 seconds and then wipe it clean with a damp paper towel. Once the chalk or residue is gone, use a dry towel to ensure it’s not wet, and you're done!

Check the Sleeve of the Barbell

After every couple of uses, we recommend checking the sleeves of your barbell for any damage or rust. To keep the sleeves properly maintained, simply add some 3-1 oil to each shaft, and brush the oil into all of the crevices. We recommend using a small nylon brush for this process. After 3-4 minutes, wipe the oil off with an old rag or towel.

Clean your barbell regularly

Depending on the finish and the amount it’s being used, you’ll need to do a deeper clean on your barbell. The table below will give you a good indication of how frequently this will need to be done.

Finish Type

Maintenance Frequency

Bar Steel

Every 1-3 weeks

Black Oxide

Every 2-4 weeks


Every 2-4 weeks

Budge Chrome


Hard Chrome

Every 1-3 months


Every 1-3 months

Stainless Steel

Every 1-3 months

How To Clean Barbell Knurling

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What should I not do when storing a barbell?

No matter how strong your bar is when you're working out, it’s never a good idea to store your barbell with weights on it. Another thing to note, leaving your barbell on the ground after use isn’t a good idea. It’s in contact with dirt and dust, and the ground has the most humid air within a room. Lastly, don’t store your bar at an angle. If your barbell isn’t horizontal or completely vertical, it can damage the bearings quicker.

What should I do when storing a barbell?

The best way to store your weight lifting bar is horizontally on hooks or with barbell storage stands. This will be the best option for the care and preservation of your barbell. You can store barbells vertically, but we recommend buying a bar storage unit to reduce the risk of damaging the sleeve of your bar.

How long does a barbell last?

With the proper maintenance and storage, you can have a barbell for 10+ years! If longevity is what you’re seeking, then go for a barbell with a quality finish so cleaning and maintaining your bar will be easier.

Can I use wd40 on my barbell?

Yes, you can use WD-40 instead of 3-1 oil when maintaining your barbell. It’s also great for removing unwanted friction on your sleeves. Simply spray WD-40 on a dry towel or rag (not directly on your barbell) and massage it into your bar. Make sure you use a dry rag or towel to clean once you’re finished.

Is it safe to use rusty weights?

The interior of rusted weights may still be structurally sound, but we still don’t recommend using them. Simply follow our guide on how to clean a barbell on your weights, and you’ll remove all of that unwanted rust.

What’s the best finish on barbells to protect against rust?

Chrome barbells are the most expensive as they offer the best protection against rust. However, zinc is a close second and is more protective than bare steel and black oxide.


As you can see, cleaning and maintaining your barbell doesn’t break the bank, and it can actually save you replacing your at-home gym equipment. We hope our 5 simple steps on how to clean your barbell will keep your weight lifting bar performing as good as new and for a longer time.