Got a Very Rusty Olympic Bar. Tips?

It still spins . It looks like an old power bar. Anyone cleaned one up. The knurling looks decent too. I’ll have to check if it is branded. Can you paint where the plates go?

I’ve bought a few on Craigslist and cleaned them up. Just get a wire brush and get the rust off as best you can. The sleeves come off by removing the snap ring (just keep everything together in the same order if you do this, it’ll be easier to put back together). Use some 3 in 1 oil and clean it. I use WD40 on the outsides of my bars and sleeves. Spray on, brush w wire brush, wipe off, repeat if necessary. I made the mistake of painting one of the first bars I had. The paint looked good at first but after sliding plates on and off a few times looked like shit, not to mention the mess it makes w paint chips everywhere. Besides a rusty bar looks better, adds a little character. Keep an oil cloth nearby and give it a wipe once or twice a week and you shouldn’t have to do another deep cleaning again.


I have a tpb that gets some rust on it because we train in our damp basement. Like Mackison said, clean as much rust off as you can with a wire brush and oil it. I use mineral oil on a rag; a very light coat. Keep a light coat on it. One of the surprising bonuses I found was that the plates slide on and off very easily with the oil.


Snap-on has a line of synthetic lubricant that is amazing. If you can get your hands on some, buy a case. I use it on my bars, guns, just about everything. Wire brush the bar, spray it and let it sit. 0000 steel wool on stubborn parts. It will be like new.


I asked the exact same question about ten years ago and was advised to leave it as it is because rust is good grip. Being one to use any excuse to get out of any amount of work I took this advise.

Five or six years ago I turned that bar into a homemade safety squat bar. Let me see if I can find a picture…

Here’s a picture. I had a guy at a local machine shop weld on those bars and my shoulders have been thanking me for it ever since.


I made bar like that but from scaffolding. It is not really a safety squat bar as the weights are not in a lowered position. They are so difficult to use. I prefer your style of bar.

I’d use a wire brush and phosphoric or oxalic acid (sold as “rust remover”). Wear plastic gloves.

Follow with MEK and oil, or just oil if you can’t find MEK, just oil.

It will be shinny and new.

Vinegar will work wonders, if you’ve got a way of soaking a length at a time it just dissolves after a few days, no chemicals, no scrubbing, I’ve done this with some old axe heads caked in rust and other parts.

Shit, just noticed the date on this post, don’t know why it showed up as new.


Thanks but I have bent the bar badly now lol.

My son recently bent one of our bars pretty badly. A friend owns a body shop with a frame machine. He was able to straighten our bar pretty well with that.

Even though you resurrected an old post, vinegar does work well. I discovered that this fall when I was removing scale off iron that I’d had smithed for a table. I soaked it overnight and the scale and rust rinsed right off. I followed it with a mineral oil rub.

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Take it apart, wire brush, grease it before it goes back together (either bearings or bushings) and enjoy.

One if the gyms I ran opened into a pool and we had to do this with our bars every 3-6 months. Takes no time if you keep it up, only the first time is slow.

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I clean mine by rubbing quite a bit of marvel mystery oil on the bar and scrubbing it with a nylon brush. My sleeves come off with a big allen wrench, take them off clean/grease what you can inside. The outside of the sleeves I do the same as the bar except I use steel wool instead of a brush.

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I’ve used vinegar on tools and it’s pretty amazing what it can do.

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