Is It OK if a Barbell Gets Wet?

Working out in an outdoor gym is a lot of fun. The breeze keeps you cool and dry, and you can even get a nice tan and see some sunshine. But inevitably, it’s going to rain on your gym equipment, so is it ok if a barbell gets wet?

A barbell can get wet from use outside or excessive sweat, but it should be cleaned and dried as soon as possible. If your gym equipment stays wet for a long time, it’ll begin to rust. Also, the bearings can stop spinning from prolonged exposure to corrosion.

Read on to learn more about barbells and whether you can keep them outside to save garage space.

Why You Should Aim To Keep Your Barbell Dry

Having an outdoor gym may seem like a great space saver, but even in the driest of climates, you run the risk of ruining your equipment.

Steel will rust if you don’t adequately clean and dry the equipment after use. It’ll also collect more dust, and weight plates won’t spin because the steel bearings need to stay clean and dry.

Note that iron can rust even if it doesn’t get wet. Air has enough moisture for rust to form, so even in sunny climates, you run the risk of your equipment getting wet just from sitting in the open air. 

If you live in a coastal area, you must have noticed that cars corrode quickly. This is because ocean air contains chloride and other particles that accelerate corrosion by up to 10 times.

The same applies to your barbell. Even if it’s stainless steel, it can and will rust if exposed to humidity long enough.

To keep your equipment in tip-top shape, use the Weiman Stainless Steel Cleaner Kit from

The cleaner removes any dirt and rust that’s started to form on the bar and plates, and the included cloth is perfect for keeping everything polished and dust-free. 

Can You Leave a Barbell Outside?

You can leave a barbell outside, but it’ll inevitably start to rust if it gets rained on or wet in other ways. Also, the barbell will get dirty more easily outdoors, so it’s best to keep it covered with a sheet of tarp or canvas.

If you only work out outside during warmer days, I encourage you to bring your equipment indoors when it rains and during winter.

If that’s not practical, at least cover it. 

You can use the Safety-Shark Waterproof Tarp from The tarp is made of thick polyethylene that won’t let rain through. People use it to cover their cars, so your barbell will do all right.

Remember, though, that rain can get to the barbell from beneath as well. So, wrap it tightly and secure it with a piece of rope.

How To Clean a Rusty Barbell

If your barbell only got a bit of rust, it’s not a big deal. Put some vinegar on a cloth, and it’ll wipe straight away.

However, if your weight is completely rusted, you’ll have to replace or restore it. 

The bearings are the most delicate part and, if the weights don’t spin, don’t use it for Olympic lifts. However, you can still use it for deadlifts and other barbell exercises.

Here’s how to clean a rusty barbell:

  1. Brush it with a wire brush. The Maxman Wire Brush Set from comes with a carbon steel and stainless steel brush that can easily remove rust. The curved handles make this tedious job effortless.
  2. Put the barbell in a large container. It’s best to use a plastic bucket that you don’t need because it’ll smell and look bad when you’re done.
  3. Soak the barbell in a solution of water and white vinegar for up to 12 hours. Use a solution of equal parts vinegar and water until the weight is completely submerged.
  4. Rinse the barbell and brush it with a wire brush and baking soda. Prepare everything in advance and do this as quickly as possible to prevent flash rusting. Baking soda is a base, so it’ll neutralize the acidic vinegar.
  5. Dry your equipment thoroughly. Use a piece of dry cloth and leave the barbell out in the sun to accelerate the process.

Now that your barbell is clean and dry, it’s time to protect it from rust.

How To Stop a Barbell From Rusting

I already explained how you could use a tarp sheet to cover your weight and protect it from rain. However, there’s one more thing that’ll prevent rust from forming on your barbell in the first place.

Use Oil To Protect Your Barbell

The trick is to oil it. 

Lucas Craftsmanship explains that oil creates a protective barrier on metal.

Before you rush out to grab a bottle of olive oil from your kitchen, I must warn you that vegetable oil goes rancid when exposed to air, so it’ll smell horrible. Also, any dust that falls on the barbell will stick.

The best oil for a barbell is 3-In-One from The oil protects against rust and corrosion and comes in a squeezable bottle that makes it easier to use.

Put a few drops on your barbell and use a dry cloth to rub in the oil. Start with a small amount because it’s easy to add more if needed.

If you use too much oil, the barbell will be slippery, making it difficult to hold. The last thing you want is for your weight to slip out of your hands while doing a bench press.

Final Thoughts

It’s ok if your barbell got a bit wet from a brutal workout or if it rained. However, if it stays wet for prolonged durations, it’ll start to rust.

You want to keep your barbell dry and oiled at all times. Take it indoors when you’re done with your exercise, or cover it with a waterproof material like tarp or canvas.

And if you aren’t ready to throw your rusty barbell out, don’t worry because you can remove most of the rust using the above method.


Recent Posts