How to Remove Rust from Bike Disc Brakes

Seeing a bike that has disc brakes filled with rust can be an unsettling feeling, especially when you are not aware of it. It can happen due to numerous reasons and some of them may not be your fault either. Lucky for you because I am here to assist you with this problem.

I have had friends and colleagues who have faced difficulties in removing rust from their bike disc brakes. But, eventually found ways to make their disc brakes look just as before and perform as they wanted. 

Worry not! There are some easy steps to remove rust from bike disc brakes altogether, and I am here to guide you. 

Why do bike disc brakes rust?

How to remove rust from bike disc brakes

As a user who rides in different environments and conditions, it is very important for them to have maintenance on their bikes from time to time. Otherwise, many complications may arise like rust in bike disc brakes.

Rust may appear due to lack of usage, dust or debris, or due to moisture. 

  • Often due to no usage, the bike is stored for a long time, and it just doesn’t perform like it used to. The key to preventing it is to ride your bike just about enough so that the caliper wear removes the rust all by itself. Also, it is essential to keep riding your bike to keep it in tip-top shape. 
  • Dust or debris is a prominent factor in creating rust on your disc brakes. Riding in humid or muddy conditions will constantly attract dirt on your brakes, and if you don’t clean your rotors a few times a week, they’ll start to rust, which will lead to corroding the metal eventually. 
  • If you hear squeaking noises after storing it someplace humid then it is due to overnight moisture. You are supposed to keep your bike someplace fairly cool so that moisture doesn’t appear. Moisture leads to a rust coating, even if you keep it in a place where there is moisture, you need to then clean it based on your understanding. 

How to remove rust from bike disc brakes?

Now let us talk about some of the ways to remove rust from your bike’s disc brakes

Aluminum Foil

The most essential step out of all the ways is simply using a piece of aluminum foil. Just take enough portions to cover up the rubbing easily. Then start rubbing it on your disc brakes.

The process is a bit long, but it definitely works. The rustiest parts will come off quickly, but the tiny pores will be difficult to remove and will require a bit of time.

You can also remove rusts on chains and bolts with an aluminum foil. Other than using things that have chemicals that might harm the metal of the discs it is better just to apply this method.

Aluminum foil tears apart quite easily so be aware of the clearing as the floor will be a mess once you’re done. 

Disc Brake Cleaners

Cleaners are a good solution when it comes to looking for an easier option. But, disc brake cleaners are not something that usually stays at home, you may have to visit your local maintenance shop.

Using a good disc brake cleaner will remove the grime and the dirt. It can decontaminate anything that causes rust and it’ll like to make it look just as new.

It is a faster option leaving no residue, and also, using disc brake cleaners from time to time might prolong the lifespan of the disc brakes.

Also, be careful not to pick brake cleaners that are for cars. Those leave oil that is not suitable for the disc brakes. 

An alternative to disc brake cleaner 

  1. Isopropyl alcohol is known to be just as effective as disc brake cleaners. You may find them in your local pharmacy. I recommend you use it with a spray bottle just like disc brake cleaners. 
  2. Pure Acetone, which has to be 100 acetone, can be used. Remember not to use nail polish remover since it is not pure acetone and has coloration with odor. Acetone will remove all the oils and leave no residue. 

Soap or Detergent 

Removing with a soap or detergent with a cleaning rag may also do the trick. Scrubbing the rusty parts will dipping them into soap may remove some of the rust. Also, use food-grade detergent as it won’t have any sort of unnecessary chemical to corrode or harm the body.

It should remove the excessive and unremovable rusts. I recommend you use a toothbrush in this process.


While cleaning the disc brakes, you can WD-40  since it’ll remove the extra grease, oil, and grime.

But, you have to use it while cleaning it, if you use WD-40 as the only primary tool as the rust remover, then it won’t work but will do more harm to the rotors due to its chemicals. 

What not to do when removing rust from bike disc brakes?

Why do bike disc brakes rust

As I have said before, don’t simply use the WD-40 spray, it’ll do more harm rather than removing the rust. After using the spray, clean the disc brakes with soap water or rinse them properly with normal water. 

Also, make sure not to use any sort of cleaning aerosol sprays that are not suitable for disc brake brakes. Those sprays might have chemicals or oils that are harmful to the discs.

It may help temporarily but will harm adversely in the long run. Another thing is not to hold the brakes with your hands bare naked. Try using gloves or clean rags because any form of dirt or moisture can lead to rusting. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Does Vinegar remove rust, and is it bad for metal?

Yes, it does. White vinegar is quite essential in removing rust. Dip the discs into a bowl filled with white vinegar. Soak it for a couple of hours then start wiping it with a clean rag. Remember to clean it off because vinegar can be toxic to the metal if it’s kept for a long time.

Why are disc brakes turning orange color?

It is because your disc brakes have started to rust. As I have said before, you probably have kept your bike under loads of moisture or have not used it for a long-long time or you have not cleaned it at all even after consistently riding in muddy conditions. Orange is the queue to rusty disc brakes. Rust leads to corrosion. 

What is the most commonly used chemical in removing rust?

Phosphoric acid is the most commonly used chemical in removing rust. You use the phosphoric acid solution with water, then use a scrub to wipe off the rust.

How long does it take for bike discs to start rusting?

It can appear in less than 24 hours. You could leave it in a place with moisture, then after waking up you will rust appear. 


Thus, I believe you are now fairly knowledged about this issue. You are aware of the specifics when it comes to removing the rust from the bike disc brakes. Also, you know what not to do in removing the rust.

The solutions are not really difficult to assess, it’ll just require some patience. Unless the disc brakes have started to corrode rapidly, then you shouldn’t face any sort of problems if you apply the steps I have suggested to you. 

So, I expect you to come forth if you see your colleagues or friends’ feeling agitated because of the rust appearing in their bike’s disc brakes.