How to Clean Metal Dumbbells

Owning your own home gym is something. Maintaining your workout equipment may come as a daunting task. Like it or not, metal gym equipment do rust and other equipment build up dust and dirt over time. If you want them functioning, you should learn how to clean metal dumbbells. 

How to Clean Metal Dumbbells

Before cleaning metal dumbbells, you should understand that there are different types of metal finishes in dumbbells. Each metal has different ways to clean them up. Most people use metal dumbbells because of its durability. 

However, most people assume that metal dumbbells last for a long time because they are durable. Like all things, you need to properly handle and do regular maintenance to keep it functioning well. 

Man holding a dumbbell with each hands

Different Types of Metal Dumbbells

You mostly see three common metal finish used in dumbbells. These are:

  • Iron
  • Steel
  • Chrome

Some dumbbells use rubber and urethane. Some rubber and urethane dumbbells use metals but get wrapped by rubber or urethane that it would be difficult to clean the metal. 

For metal dumbbells, you need to make sure that they don’t get rust. If the metal dumbbells do get rusty, you need to remove the rust and clean it. 

Iron Dumbbells

You usually see iron dumbbells with a high-quality, semi-flat enamel paint coating. Most iron weights gradually shed off their enamel coating. This leaves your iron weights in a vulnerable spot for oxidation. 

Oxidation and moisture cause the iron to rust. That’s why it’s very important to clean your iron dumbbells when the enamel has worn off. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Prepare a dish soap and mix a few drops of it in a gallon of water.
  2. Dip a damp cloth from the mixture and wipe your dumbbells with it. Make sure you wipe every spot on your dumbbells. 
  3. Use another dry cloth to wipe off water to prevent rusting.

Similar to cleaning all types of iron, its vital you dry your equipment after cleaning it. If your dumbbells still have enamel coating, you should only use a small amount of the mixture to clean off the dust and dirt on your dumbbells.

Steel Dumbbells

Steel and iron almost have the same properties so you would clean it just the same way you would clean an iron dumbbell. Make sure that you keep them dry after using the liquid mixture to avoid rusting.  

Man holding a dumbbell with each hands

To keep it clean and protected, you can store it in a place where there’s little to no moisture buildup to prevent rust. You can buy a case exclusively to store your dumbbells and prevent rusting. 

Make sure that you also handle steel dumbbells with care so that the coating lasts longer and provides additional protection for a longer time. 

Chrome Dumbbells

Some dumbbells use chrome for a better shiny metal finish. That’s why wiping them constantly should be your daily routine to maintain their sparkle. Some people use protectant regularly just to maintain that shiny chrome finish. 

To clean your chrome dumbbells, do the following:

  1. Apply a thin layer of high-grade moisture inhibitor or a protectant like WD-40 to your chrome dumbbells.
  2. Wipe your equipment with a cloth. 
  3. Wipe your equipment again using a soft dry cloth to completely remove moisture.

You can make do with soap dish mixture but a protectant is better to preserve the chrome finish. If you mind the cost then you can make do with regular soap dish mixture. 

Rubber Dumbbells

Some rubber dumbbells have metal parts in them. Which is why we also included them on the list. In most cases, the handle usually makes up most metal in rubber dumbbells. Other rubber dumbbells have metal inside but are coated with rubber materials to protect the metal from rusting. 

To clean rubber dumbbells, you should:

  1. Mix a few drops of dish soap in a gallon of water.
  2. Dip a clean cloth in the mixture and use it to wipe all parts of your rubber dumbbells. 
  3. Use another dry cloth to wipe and dry the metal parts of your rubber dumbbell.
  4. You can choose not to dry the rubber parts of your dumbbell.
Man holding a dumbbell with one hand while stepping on another one on the grass

Urethane Dumbbells

Most urethane dumbbells use steel as a base and use urethane to cover the steel for protection. Some urethane dumbbells only coat the weights and not the handle. You get more durability in urethane compared to rubber.

Urethane is also impervious to:

  • Tearing
  • Peeling
  • Chipping
  • Flaking
  • Delamination

There’s no question that urethane is better than rubber in most aspects. In order to clean the urethane dumbbells, you should do the following:

  1. Use a clean damp cloth to wipe your urethane dumbbell.
  2. You can use water to help with the cleaning but don’t use it on metal parts
  3. Wipe your urethane dumbbell with a dry cloth if you used water
  4. Let it dry before using it.

Removing Rust from Dumbbells

If your dumbbells have rust already, you would want to remove it if you want your dumbbells to last longer. You also want to remove the rust before you do dumbbell cleaning or the water would just add oxidation to the rust. 

Here’s how you can remove rust from dumbbells so you can clean it properly:

  1. Brush away the rust on your dumbbells: do a quick good brushing to remove the rusts on your dumbbell. Don’t worry about getting all the rust as the next steps help remove them. 
  2. Soak your rusty dumbbells: using a ½ vinegar and ½ water solution, soak your dumbbells for 24 to 72 hours. You can use Coke but it would cost you more. You get a better result with vinegar anyways. 
  3. Scrub the rust off your dumbbells: after being soaked in the vinegar solution, it’s time to remove the remaining rust off your dumbbells. Scrub the remaining rust on your dumbbells. After removing all the rust, rinse the dumbbells and dry it with a towel. Don’t air dry it or you’re inviting rust to come again. 
  4. Paint the dumbbell: if you want your dumbbell looking respectable or good as new, you should add paint to it. Paint also adds a layer of protection to keep moisture from seeping into the metal.


That’s how you clean metal dumbbells. Make sure you spot the rusts before cleaning and remove them right away. Rusts can affect how much your dumbbells can effectively work. You also don’t want to feel rust on your hands when you’re lifting

Robert Lemus has been a natural competitor for 6 years, starting in Men’s Physique, then Bodybuilding, and then into Classic Physique. He is the Orange County Bodybuilding champion in 2016 for the Musclemania Organization. In 2018, he received his Pro Card with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) in Classic Physique.