How To Clean Weight Plates (Rubber & Iron Rust Removal)

Owning weights is a goal for many fitness buffs, but did you know that they require regular maintenance? Rubber weights can have that typical rubber smell and “rubber bloom” that people aren’t a fan of.

Iron and steel plates can also rust! For that reason, we should all know how to clean weight plates. We’re here to give you all the tips on how to do so! 

If you have dirty, grimy weight plates, you’re going to need: 

  • Warm, soapy water (a few drops of dish soap is perfect) 
  • Clean water for rinsing 
  • Soft, dry cloth 
  • Sunlight (optional, but is more effective) 

If you feel like the rubber plates still look dirty, then it could be that your plates have "bloom." This happens with many rubber products, and fluorescent lighting seems to be a significant cause of it.  

  • A small quantity of olive or mineral oil (alternatively, tire cleaner!) 
  • A pair of soft cloths 
  • Armor All protective wipes to keep this from happening in the future (optional) 

How To Clean Rubber Weight Plates? 

There are a couple of different methods for how to clean rubber weight plates. For grimy plates, follow this process:  

  1. 1
    Mix up warm water and soap, take a sponge or washcloth and wash them well.  
  2. 2
    Rinse them off completely with just water.  
  3. 3
    Dry with your soft cloth, placing special attention near the metal ring. Make sure there is no residual moisture.  
  4. 4
    If possible, place them in the sun for them to dry.  

If this process doesn’t work and the plates still look grimy, then you likely have rubber bloom. Luckily, this is a pretty easy fix! Here’s what you’ll need:  

  1. 1
    Take one of the cloths and dip a corner in the oil.  
  2. 2
    Rub it over the areas with rubber bloom until they start to disappear. 
  3. 3
    Next, take your dry, unused cloth and wipe off the oil residue. Repeat as needed.  

Related Article - Bumper Vs Iron Weight Plates 

How To Clean Weight Plates (Rubber & Iron Rust Removal)

How To Clean Iron Weight Plates? (Rust Removal Guide)

You can find a lot of affordable weight plates second-hand if they're rusted. Unfortunately, even if you buy your iron weight plates brand-new, they are still susceptible to rusting. The good news is that there is a solution and methods to removing the rust!  

Do you want to know just how to clean rusty weight plates? Check this out: 

  1. 1
    Brush Away Rust 
    First, grab yourself a nylon brush, brass brush, sandpaper, and/or Dremel if there's a lot of rust. Then, brush away as much rust as you can.  
  2. 2
    Soak Rusty Weights 
    After they’re rust-free, soak them in a solution of 1:1 water and vinegar. Soak them, making sure they’re completely submerged for 24 to 72 hours. You can also use a rust converter instead, which makes rust very easy to wipe away. We recommend doing this out in your garage as it does smell quite fragrant. 
  3. 3
    Scrub More 
    After the soak, take your brush and begin scrubbing the rust away again. It should come off much easier. 
  4. 4
    Apply Protectant Seal or Rust-Oleum 
    Rust-Oleum is our preferred method just because it’s so easy and looks great! Make sure you’re in a well-ventilated area while doing this. 
rusted weight plates

What Causes Weight Plates To Rust?  

The vast majority of weights in the world are made from steel or iron, which rust easily when presented with water. In a humid or damp environment or without proper maintenance, there’s no doubt they’ll rust. If you’re storing your weights outside or in the garage in a humid environment, it can cause them to rust quite quickly.  

Saltwater causes the rusting process to expedite. What do we sweat? Basically saltwater! This means that you need to regularly clean your weights. Take a clean towel with some soapy water and wipe down all of your weights each time you're done using them. Take a dry towel after and make sure to dry them off completely.  

Of course, it also depends on the finish of your weights. Bare Steel and Black Oxide are known for looking better because they protect against rust. Stainless Steel and Cerakote finishes are known for being very resistant, however.  

Frequently Asked Weight Plate Cleaning Questions 

Can you wash weight plates with soapy water?  

Yes, you definitely can! You don't have to use a lot of soap, either. A couple of drops of dish soap should do the job. Just make sure that you are drying them off completely afterward.  

Can you spray paint rusty weights?  

You can, but you should first remove the rust. If you don’t, the paint will be susceptible to peeling, and the rusting will also continue to further penetrate the metal over time. This can lead to a potentially dangerous situation, compromising the structural integrity of your weights.  

How often should I clean my weight plates?  

Ideally, every day! The salt and moisture that comes from our sweat can cause rusting over time. Even if you think you haven’t sweat on your plates, you’d be surprised!  

How do you get the smell out of rubber weight plates?  

Rubbing alcohol is one of the most popular methods. After you’ve cleaned your weights with soap and water, apply rubbing alcohol over the weight. Make sure you dry them afterward! 


Now that you’re practically a pro in how to clean weight plates, are you ready to bring your weights back to life? We hope that our guide helped you out so you can use them for many more years to come. 

Last Updated on December 16, 2022

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.