How to Remove Rust From Dumbbells and Weight Plates

rusty olympic weight plates

When my husband and I decided to buy a house, one of his only requirements was that it had room for a gym. Fortunately, we found a home with space. When we started buying weights, we learned that, to get a good deal, you sometimes have to settle for rusty weight plates and dumbbells.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to remove the rust. So, If you’re trying to get a discount on weights, don’t let the rusty ones deter you from buying them. It’s a smelly process, but totally worth it.

Follow the instructions below to try it yourself.

UPDATE 8/10/2019: we’ve been using our revamped weights and dumbells for over a year now and they still look as good as new! There hasn’t been any chipping of spray paint or re-rusting. I highly recommend this process.

Supplies needed to remove rust from weights

 My content contains affiliate links to products I use and love. If you take action (purchase, subscribe) after clicking the links, I get some crafting money which helps me continue to write awesome tutorials for you! This costs you nothing but enables you to support my work. 

When we got the weights they looked like this. Not totally covered in rust, but they were not in the best shape.

steel brush the weights

Step 1: brush off the rust

Using a stainless steel bristle brush, scrape off as much of the excess rust and chipping paint as  possible.

Step 2: Soak the weights in vinegar and water

Pay attention to the recommended dilution ratio on the vinegar you buy. Use that ratio of water and vinegar and soak the weights for about 3 days.

I recommend keeping them somewhere you don’t have to spend much time because it smells bad. We did it in our garage.

Also, when you finished and ready to dump out your solution, make sure you pour it down a large drain and not in your yard. The vinegar will kill your grass.

Note: We used 4 bottles (64 fl oz) of vinegar. We also took some of the less rusty weights out earlier and got similar results. If your weights have a lot of rust, they will need more time in the solution.

weight plate after rust removal

Step 3: Dry the weights

Take the weights out of the vinegar solution and dry them really well. If they’re exposed to moisture, they’ll begin to rust again.

The olympic plate in the image above is the same plate pictured in step 1. It looks much better now. It has not been spray painted yet either! I was shocked to see the difference!

spray painted weight plates

Step 4 (optional): spray paint the weights

While not necessary, I recommend taking some extra time to spray paint the weights. We used Rust-oleum 2x Paint + Primer. It’s desgined to cover rust and it’s worked well for us.

For comparison, in the image above, the first weight plate on the right has been spray painted with Rust-oleum. The one on the left was just removed from the vinegar solution and dried. It makes a big difference.

When you’re done, you’ll have some fancy, seemingly new weights. And they look so nice! You can hardly even tell a differnce in the texture anymore.

weights soaking in vinegar/water solution

Look how rusty those round iron dumbbells were. Pretty bad, right?

spray painted York dumbbells

These are the same ones. I’m not kidding!

So, if you’re considering buying weights or dumbells for your home gym, don’t avoid the rusty ones. And if you’re considering getting rid of your weights because they’re rusty, don’t do it! Use this process to fix them up instead.

Hope you enjoyed this one.

Happy crafting!

16 thoughts on “How to Remove Rust From Dumbbells and Weight Plates

  1. Pingback: DIY Spray Painted Curtain Rods | Make Something Mondays!

  2. While the tips are great, do not use vinegar when the weights aren’t that bad and just need a quick wire brushing. The vinegar will lift existing paint that otherwise makes for good primer and vinegar will cause rust to form over a few days if. Or fully submerged, crating a lot more work for yourself.

    • Hi JC, thanks for the feedback. We used the Rustoleum spray paint that covers and prevents rust for that reason. It’s been years since we went through this process and the plates and paint have held up wonderfully.

  3. Hello,

    A few questions:

    1) Do you cover the box you put the weights in?
    2) Is it safe to touch the solution barehanded?
    3) What does JC mean by creating a lot more work for yourself when using this method? Will your method result in more trouble if we skip step 4 (spray painting)

    Thanks for the guide. I’m going to do it after my questions are answered!

    • I did not cover the box.
      I would wear gloves around the solution.
      The spray paintnis important, specifically that type, because it prevents additional rust.

      The process worked great for us. 3 years later and thr plates look exactly the same as the day we finished them. We use them nearly every day.

  4. I forgot my last question:

    What should the ratio of vinegar to water be? I did not understand what you said very well (I’m from the Netherlands)!

  5. Question: In the photo of the two 5-lb plates, is it the plate on the left that has been painted? The caption says it is the one on the right but the one on the right doesn’t look like it’s been painted. Just confirming… Thanks.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.