How to clean your rusty ball bearings.

This is a tutorial will show you how to quickly, safely, and economically remove the rust from your bearings.
Please note, this tutorial is regarding steel ball bearings only. White vinegar is a human safe acid, but will dissolve copper and nickel. Aluminum has no reaction with vinegar.

Portions of this regarding solvent should be done in a well ventilated area with adult supervision.
Please follow the directions explicitly and do not change the solution by adding other chemicals that someone tells you will “help”, such as salt, baking soda, coca cola and peroxide.

This is the bearing from my first trade and will serve as the subject for this tutorial.

Things you will need
Toothbrush or cloth
White Vinegar
A transparent jar or cup

1.Clean the lubricant off of your rusted bearing with your preferred solvent.
Allow the bearing to dry completely. Compressed air will speed the process.
this is the bearing I am using today

  1. Pour enough white vinegar into a jar so that the bearing can be completely submerged.

Make sure you use WHITE vinegar, not cider or balsamic. This is not a salad.

  1. Now Place bearing into the vinegar. You will begin to see hydrogen bubbles forming on the bearing. Remove the bearing every 2 hours and give it a scrub with the toothbrush or cloth to remove loosened rust. If corrosion is heavy, or if time is not a factor, you may also leave the bearing in the vinegar overnight and achieve similar effects.

After 3 hours…

After 12 hours

After 24 hours

  1. Once the oxidation has been removed, place bearing someplace warm and dry till the vinegar evaporates completely. Your should give it a spin every now and again to to insure there is no vinegar trapped in the race. White vinegar does not leave a residue when it evaporates, so you will not need to do additional cleaning.
    DO NOT rinse the bearing in soapy water!
    DO NOT place the bearing in a solvent (mineral spirit) bath before it is dry!
    Either of these things will accelerate the corrosion returning.

Your bearing is now restored and ready to be installed dry or lubed.
Please note that heavily corroded bearings will display pitting and will not be shiny.

Thanx for reading


That is a very good tutorial backed by some simple backyard chemistry.

+1 psin

very nice tutorial this will help many people.

YEEEHAAA for science…and psin :wink:

Awesome men!


I seriously think this should be stickied. It is an amazing tut, and it works.

Nice tutorial. But doesn’t vinegar also rust bearings?

No, vinegar is acetic acid and evaporated cleanly.
Rarely, it will leave some residual water if diluted.
If this seems to be the case or if you feel the extra preventive measure is appropriate, the water can be displaced with a little rubbing alcohol immediately followed by hitting it with a hairdryer on hot. The bearing will be completely dry and usable in about 3 minutes. (I’m ball parking here. probably closer to 25 seconds but better safe than sorry if you’re going to go the extra mile anyway.)

thanks my dm bearing is like this

This really is a great post, I have a lot of rusty bearings… but this isn’t a salad? I hate having rust in my eight bearing salad.

Psin, that is the most awesome thing anyone has posted here in a while. Well done!

Sticky? Please?

Try using ketchup too.


wow nice info!!
but i’m jst rub the rust using sandpaper…
but it not clean enought!! i must rub it constantly

This tutorial will help alot of people save some money, and also lots of kids who accidentaly messed up there bearings by not cleaning or getting the bearing wet.

I request a sticky good sir!

I has been stickied for quite some time.

i used this on one of my old and pretty rusted bearing. it worked amazingly thanks for the tip. ;D