How to Remove Rust from Your Bike’s Disc Brakes

Noticing rust on your bike’s disc brakes can be unsettling. There may be some perfectly understandable reasons why rust is beginning to accumulate, but nevertheless, you’ll want to remove it. Rust will corrode the metal over time.

There is no need to worry. There are a few simple ways to get rust off bike disc brakes, and we can also tell you how to keep bike disc brakes from rusting in the first place.

Closeup of a bike's rear disc brake that looks like it has been freshly cleaned of rust

Ride your bike

The first method for removing rust from bike disc brakes is to simply ride the bike around. The caliper wear from your braking motion may clean the rust from the metal without you needing to do anything else. In general, regular use is important for keeping your bike in the best possible condition.

Aluminum foil

If riding the bike around doesn’t do the trick, you can try using aluminum foil instead.

How to get rust off bike disc brakes using aluminum foil

Just take a small piece of aluminum foil and ball it up. Then gently rub the rusted spots with the foil. You may have to spend some time and energy doing this, but it is a much better method than using harsh chemicals on your bike.

Two balls of crumpled aluminum foil, one large, one small

In addition, be aware that the foil will flake away as you work. You might want to sit your bike on a tarp or other surface while working to make cleaning up easier.

What not to do

If your bike disc brakes have rusted, we do not recommend using WD-40 or other common rust and stain removers. These harsh chemicals can end up doing more harm than good in the process, even permanently damaging your bike. Don’t take the chance.

Can of WD40 with the Do Not Use symbol over it

How to keep bike disc brakes from rusting

The simplest solution is to prevent rust from accruing on the brakes in the first place. The key is to prevent them from being exposed to moisture. Whenever possible, store your bike in a cool, dry space. Your garage or a shed is probably ideal, but we have post covering some other outdoor bike storage options. If you don’t have access to a shed, consider storing your bike inside your home or apartment. A lot of people who live in apartments keep their bikes on balconies, but doing so increases the chance of rust.

Finally, you can coat your bicycle with a rust-proofing lubricant, which is especially important if you’re forced to leave it outside. Consult the professionals at your local bike shop for the best brand for your particular bicycle.

Image at top: © Jeff Attaway | Creative Commons