How To Clean Barbell?

How To Clean Barbell?

Gym memberships are more popular than ever and with good reason! The health and fitness benefits of regular exercise are well-documented. However, if you’re like most people, the thought of working out at a crowded gym filled with sweaty strangers isn’t very appealing. That’s why home gyms are becoming increasingly popular. But even if you have your own personal gym at home, you need to make sure it is clean and safe to use. In this blog post, we’ll show you how to clean barbells so that they remain free from bacteria and harmful toxins.
How To Clean Barbell

What Is A Barbell?

Some might say that a barbell is nothing more than two metal discs, loaded with weight plates and connected by an often-adjustable metal rod. But the reality is much different. Barbells are extremely versatile tools that can be used for anything from muscle building to fat loss, general fitness, or Olympic weightlifting (and everything in between). Virtually every gym on the planet has at least one barbell, usually hanging on a rack right next to some free weights like dumbbells and/or kettlebells.

Every person who even occasionally hits up the local gym probably knows what a basic barbell looks like (if not, see above). But there’s actually no standard design; many bars come in all sorts of sizes and shapes, from short and squat to long and lean. They can be straight or u-shaped with rotating components, the ends of which are loaded with removable plates in various widths. There are also fixed weight bars with specialized attachments for specific purposes.

Regardless of what type a bar is, nearly everyone has a large “shaft,” a thicker middle section that’s offset by a narrower part called a “knurling.” The knurling provides both grip and balance when lifting heavy weights overhead or out in front of your body. Some bars even have marks where you should grip the bar for optimal performance during squats, deadlifts, and other movements.

The shaft also contains sleeves – the two discs that hold the plates on. Some sleeves turn, allowing you to change out the attached plates for ones of different weights (almost all bars can be loaded with Olympic-style plates; most are also capable of taking standard weight plates with holes in them). Others are fixed in place – when they’re loaded up with 2 ½, 5, or 10-pound plates, respectively, you’re good to go.

Why Do Barbells Need To Be Maintained And Cared For?

A barbell is an investment, and like any investment, it needs to be cared for in order to maximize its lifespan. The more you take care of your bar, the longer it’s likely to last. A neglected or mistreated bar will show signs of wear much sooner than one that’s treated with some respect.

Wear begins on the shaft first—the constant torsion caused by spinning weights creates stress on the material that can lead to cracks, warping, dings, et cetera. As soon as wear on the shaft becomes apparent (e.g., there are divots or severe scratches) it should be replaced immediately. Barbells typically come with a lifetime warranty against bending and/or breaking; however, they can be expensive to replace if they become unusable.

On the sleeves, wear is typically caused by two things: impact and friction. The weights hitting the inside of the sleeves during certain movements can cause dings or even cracks—hitting a sleeve that already has a small crack in it will only worsen the issue. Friction is equally dangerous, particularly with standard plates being used. Over time, metal on metal rubbing back and forth with no lubrication will lead to accelerated sleeve wear and poor spin. It’s important not to use any oil or lube when loading/unloading plates onto or off a barbell either; most bars are designed for “dry” contact with weight plates so as to avoid excessive wear (or rust).

Using plates that are too wide can also cause wear—larger plates require more torque to be moved, so the force is transmitted more directly onto the sleeve. If you use larger plates than what your bar was designed for, expect significant accelerated wear on the sleeves, particularly if they’re cheap or poorly made (don’t buy knock-offs; it’s not worth saving a few bucks).

How To Clean Barbell: A Step By Step Guide

Tools Needed: 

Rusty barbell.

Rubber gloves.


Dish soap.

Baking soda.

Paper towels or an old towel.

Plastic wrapping. 

Three-in-one oil.

Brass brush and steel brush.

A Step By Step Instruction: 

Cleaning The Shaft:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly before you begin cleaning the barbell.
  2. If you haven’t already, remove all of your plates and collars.
  3. Start by rinsing off any debris on the shaft with water, removing excess chalk, dust, oil, etc., which will make it easier to see what’s happening with the barbell.
  4. Fill a bucket or other container with warm water (not hot!) mixed with dish soap, use dish soap specifically formulated for hand washing dishes! Regular dishwashing liquid can strip away all of the important natural oils in your skin; not only will it dry out your hands, but this residue left on the barbell can damage it as well.
  5. Remove the bar from the water, then rotate it back and forth in your hands, the soap will help to remove any oil or sweat that’s on the surface of the bar.
  6. Rinse off the bar with warm water and repeat steps 4 & 5 if necessary.
  7. Allow the bar to dry completely before using it again (you can use a towel to assist, make sure not to bend or fold it as this can damage the shaft).

Cleaning The Sleeves:

  1. Remove all of your plates or collars from the sleeves so they’re free.
  2. Leave them hanging overnight so all of the plates are suspended by their opening rather than rested on each other (this allows for thorough cleaning of the insides of each sleeve, they will all get hit with the spray).
  3. Spray down the insides of each sleeve liberally with barbell cleaner or another similar product made for carbon steel bars (again, it’s metal on metal, so you want to make sure everything is clean and free from rust or corrosion). If you plan on using a commercial cleaner, follow the instructions exactly; if you’d rather use something more DIY, check out the simple tutorial on the internet.
  4. Allow them to hang overnight again so they can dry completely.
  5. Ensure they are completely dry before storing them away again, if moisture is trapped inside when you put them back together it will lead to corrosion or rust.

The Bushings:

  1. Spray down the bushings on either side of the bar with your cleaner or soap mixture, then run a damp paper towel or cloth through them.
  2. Ensure they are completely dry before using the bar again, you can use a towel to assist in drying if you’d like, but make sure not to bend or fold it as this can damage the shaft.
  3. If your sleeves don’t spin smoothly after washing and drying, this means there’s still residue inside that needs to be cleaned out further (it should feel “slippery” when moved back and forth by hand).
  4. You’ll want to remove those plates again so you can flex open each sleeve individually; place two fingers along with one of the seams (opposite of where the weight rests) and press inside while you “un-flex” the sleeve open, once it’s open, spray some more cleaner in there and repeat until the insides are completely clean.
  5. Once they’re dry, reassemble everything and test how smoothly your sleeves spin by turning them while holding onto only the outer edge of each plate. 
  6. If they still don’t spin perfectly smoothly, remove them again to ensure that all of the edges are completely cleared out, if any debris is still lingering or rust has started to develop, continue scrubbing with soap & water until everything is clean again.
  7. Reassemble once everything’s dry and test again, if they still don’t spin perfectly, you’ll want to check out the tutorial for lubricant options.

What Are Some Of The Other Methods For Cleaning A Barbell?

  1. How To Clean A Barbell With Wipe-Down Rags Or Paper Towels

Wipe down the entire outside surface of each sleeve with a rag or paper towel dampened with warm soapy water. Rinse thoroughly after letting it sit for half a minute or so, then wipe dry with another clean rag or paper towel. This will remove sweat, chalk dust, skin oils, et cetera while also removing any debris that got stuck in the knurling.

  1. How To Clean A Barbell With An Enzyme Cleanser

Use a spray bottle with an enzyme cleaner and thoroughly dampen both sleeves, then let them sit for about 10 minutes. While this will effectively remove dirt and sweat from the sleeves, it’s important to remember that enzymes are GOOD at what they do—which means any grease or oil on your bar will be broken down as well (e.g., silicone spray used as a lubricant). Once you’ve given those 10 minutes to work, use a rag or paper towel to vigorously wipe down both sleeves until every last bit of grime is gone; allow them time to dry completely.

  1. How To Clean The Inside Of The Sleeves With A Wipe-Down Rag Or Paper Towel

Put the barbell on a rack slightly higher than elbow height so you can get underneath it. You’ll need to put one hand inside of each sleeve in order to slide them off the ends of the bar. Once they’re off, use a rag or paper towel dampened with warm soapy water to wipe down the inside surfaces of both sleeves—just like you did with cleaning wipe-down rags/paper towels. If there’s any built-up grime deep in the interior, consider using an old toothbrush while wearing rubber gloves (be careful not to let any moisture get into bearings). Rinse thoroughly with clean warm water, then dry completely.

  1. How To Clean The End Of The Bar And Apply Lubricant

If you haven’t already done so, use a rag or paper towel dampened with warm soapy water to wipe down the outside of both ends of the bar where weights are placed (most people skip this step for whatever reason). Now it’s time to apply your lubricant—we’ll get into which one you should use in just a minute! Slide each sleeve back onto the ends of the bar, making sure that any bearings inside are seated properly and that there are no burrs or rough spots along the length of either piece of steel. Now grab two old towels; fold them into fourths. Place them under each end of the bar to prevent any damage to the floor while you put on your weight plates.

Start by placing a thin layer of lubricant all around both inside surfaces of one sleeve, then repeat with the other. Next, place two drops onto each bearing (one at a time), and spread it evenly with your finger or an old toothbrush. While this will go a long way toward preventing rust in bearings, it’s much better to use regular grease because it won’t break down over time as oils do—and finally, rub some grease onto ends of the bar where weights are loaded for good measure.

What Are Some Tips For Cleaning A Barbell?

Make Certain That You Purchase A High-Quality Barbell:

This article is really for you if you have not yet bought your barbell or if you are wanting to replace a previous model.

You must make certain that you buy the best barbell which your finances will allow. It merits special attention because it is such an important aspect of any weightlifting regimen.

There are a number of low-cost, poorly constructed barbells on the market. Regrettably, there are no limitations on what a firm may “say” about their bars. This implies they may offer customers a low-quality barbell which people claim is “great” but falls short of expectations.

This does not necessitate the sale of your horse, a repossession, or a reduction in steak consumption. It simply implies that you must do your homework and choose a barbell that is worthy to your investment.

After Each Use, Wipe Down Your Barbell:

One of the most typical blunders that folks make is permitting their bar to become sweaty and wet after each use. It is likewise one of the simplest errors to fix!

To start, you need to place a towel under your weights. This will help gather any water or sweat which drips down from your body as you exercise. Do not skip this step, as it may cause rusting on the weights if they come in contact with moisture for an extended period of time.

Next, you should choose a high-quality microfiber towel (or even paper towels) and begin lightly wiping down your barbell’s knurling during your post-workout cool-down period. Wipe off all of the sweat and grime which has built up over the course of your exercising.

You should also consider purchasing some sort of “barbell cleaner” for between uses. These are relatively inexpensive, and they can help maintain your barbell in like-new condition by keeping it free from sweat and debris.

Clean Your Barbell On A Regular Basis:

Another common mistake that weightlifters make is failing to clean their barbells on a regular basis.

It’s easy to allow weeks and months (or even years) to pass before your bar gets cleaned, but this can lead you to believe your exercises aren’t doing much good because the bar looks like it has not been touched since day one of your regimen!

This does not mean you need to clean your bar every single time you workout; however, you should consider cleaning your weights at least once every few weeks. If the grime and sweat build up too much, then by all means you might want to have a routine cleanup after each exercise session.

Maintain Your Bar’s Finish On A Regular Basis With Appropriate Maintenance:

Your barbell may have a chrome finish, which is common in most commercial gyms. If this is the case with your weights, you must absolutely take care of what’s happening to the plating on the exterior.

Make certain that you wipe down the surface after each workout and use a sports towel or microfiber cloth for this process. If sweat from your body comes into contact with bare metal, then it will cause rusting and wear down the chrome finish rather quickly.

If you notice any signs of rust forming on your barbell plates, then remove them immediately so they can be cleaned before further damage occurs! 

Avoid Abusing Or Misusing Your Barbell:

Another common mistake that folks make with their barbells is mistreating them.

It’s simple to get a little careless if a bench press weights a lot, or if your back feels this strong at the beginning of your workout – but don’t let it happen!

The very first thing you must do is know your limits and follow all of the safety guidelines which come published with your weightlifting program. If you become over-confident and take risks because you feel as though nothing can go wrong, then injury or damage may occur in an instant.

Your barbell may seem like an indestructible tool when compared against free weights, but it still has limits on what it can handle!

Properly Store Your Barbell:

Many individuals assume that they can just dump their barbell into a closet, cabinet, or corner where it will not be seen.

However, this creates an ideal environment for rust to form as soon as moisture spreads across the weight plates. In turn, this can then lead to pitting and damage on each of your plates if you do not clean them off effectively after workouts.

Whenever possible, try to store your barbell in a climate-controlled area where it can sit upright and remain untouched for weeks or months at a time. If you cannot do this for some reason (perhaps space is limited), then you should purchase some sort of rack so it does not need touching when stored away.


What Is The Life Expectancy Of A Barbell?

The short answer is that a barbell has quite a long lifespan, provided you properly use and take care of it.

Even if it takes a little extra time to wipe down your weights after each use, or you spend a few dollars for maintenance products between uses – these expenses are relatively cheap in the grand scheme of weightlifting!

A decent quality barbell can easily last ten years or longer when being used regularly at the gym. This estimate could be higher too providing you store them correctly, and always maintain them before putting them away.

Barbells can become bent over time due to excessive weight being dropped on the sleeves during workouts, but this type of damage will not prevent them from being used still. The bending can merely cause a weight to become harder to balance, which can then lead to an increased risk of injury.

If you take good care of your barbell and handle it with respect, it will help ensure that you get maximum use out of each one no matter how old they may be.

What Happens If You Purchase A Low-Cost Barbell?

If you try your hardest to locate a great deal, then it is possible that you might end up with what appears to be a ‘steal’ of a product on the surface.

However, this isn’t always the case because some low-cost products are not worth possessing at any price. This is especially true when it concerns strength training equipment like barbells – since they are designed to support extremely heavy weights during use.

A basic barbell may look good in the beginning, but these offer no more value than ones that are less expensive! They may have angular sleeves, uneven finishes, and poor knurling for grip – making them equally dangerous while using them too.

If you do choose to purchase something which costs less, is sure that it can still provide you with a warranty.

Even if the product is within your budget initially, do not cheap out on something which is crucial for supporting your workouts! 


As you see, barbells are an important part of any gym, but they can be difficult to clean. So, there you have it – everything you need to clean your barbell and keep it in good condition. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your equipment is always in top condition and ready for use. Remember to give your barbell a good clean after every workout session, and if you notice any damage or corrosion, take action immediately to prevent further wear and tear. Keep your barbell looking (and working) like new with this easy guide!


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