As garage gym owners, we do everything we can to keep our equipment in good condition. One of the main strategies we use when building a garage gym is modifying the environment to make it more suitable for training.
This includes finding ways to keep a garage gym cool, simultaneously finding ways to heat a garage gym, and also ways to keep it clean to prevent the buildup of dust.
For all these factors, you still need to find ways to look after your equipment when not using it and storing it in a garage gym. One of the key concerns for garage gym builders is – will weights rust in garage gyms?
Weights will rust in a garage gym if you don’t remove moisture and dampness from the garage. This can be done by installing proper ventilation, insulation, dehumidifiers, and AC units. As a basic strategy to prevent weights from rusting, you should wipe them after every use and store them in a cool, dry place.
In this article, we’ll further cover why weights will rust in a garage gym – because they will – and more importantly, what you can do to prevent this from happening.
We’ll also have a quick section on cleaning rust from your weights just in case you’re reading this because you’ve already been subjected to weights rusting in your garage gym!
Will Weights Rust In Garage Gyms?
Generally, most types of metal weights will rust in your garage over time. The only weights that won’t are either not made entirely from metal or consist of stainless steel.
*** neoprene, vinyl, concrete, or urethane weights are an exception but most people reading this will own iron, bumpers, or Olympic weights which will rust.
A couple of factors contribute to how fast rusting occurs, such as humidity and sweat. And unfortunately, garage gyms will typically have plenty of both of those.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to slow rusting. In fact, there are a couple of ways you can prevent and reverse the oxidation process.
That way, you can keep your equipment working and looking better.
What Causes Weights to Rust?
Rusting will occur with any metal weights exposed to air. However, moisture makes the process happen much more rapidly.
The two things that will cause your weights to rust the most are humidity and sweat.
Humidity is essentially how much moisture is in the air. And since most garages lack good ventilation, it’s common for them to be more humid than outside conditions.
As a result, your weights will passively rust from just sitting in your garage gym due to air moisture.
Metal equipment can also rust from your sweat. Typically, the moisture and oil from your hands and fingers are what does most of the damage.
For example: If you’ve ever been to a public gym, you likely noticed that their barbells are most rusted where people grip them.
How to Prevent Weights From Rusting
If you want to prevent your weights from rusting, there are a few things you can do.
The best option is to buy an air dehumidifier. These machines are excellent at removing moisture from the air and making your home gym dryer.
For the best results, set yours anywhere from 40% to 50%. That will slow the rate of oxidation (rust) on your equipment.
To check if you should buy one, first get a hygrometer or indoor humidity monitor. If you see that your garage humidity hovers above 50%, then a dehumidifier can help preserve your equipment.
You could also install vapor barriers and new ventilation, though that will require significantly more work and money which can be too much of an investment just to avoid rust.
^^ Even if you do have rust on your weights, it’s still safe to use them so a large investment can only be justified if you want to avoid rusted weights for aesthetic reasons.
Other Ways to Reduce Garage Humidity
If you can’t afford humidity control devices, here are some DIY tactics you could try as well:
- Open your garage – If the ambient humidity in your garage gym is higher than outdoors, airing it out by opening the door may help significantly.
- Check for standing water – Unless you have adequate drainage, small water puddles and damp spots can collect on your garage floor. These add to humidity if not cleaned up.
- Keep your garage cool – Cold air holds less moisture. Thus, using fans and existing air conditioning in your garage gym will reduce humidity. This tactic also has the benefit of keeping you cool during your workout. (check out our guide on how to keep a garage gym cool for more strategies)
- Dry your vehicles off – If you park cars in the same garage you work out in, ensure that you dry them off after it rains. Otherwise, the moisture on them will diffuse into the air.
The above strategies are not as proactive as using a dehumidifier or adding ventilation. Nonetheless, they can do a lot to keep air moisture down.
Why Preventing Rust Is Important
You want to prevent rust because it can affect the quality of your equipment.
Rust will slowly ‘peel’ away layers of dumbbells and plates. As a result, they’ll become lighter than they’re supposed to be.
Severe rusting can also make weights more likely to crack over time. Plates especially are prone to breaking due to the constant impact forces they suffer.
Finally, rusting can be dangerous in rare situations. Oxidation on your weights might leave jagged and sharp edges. If you pick up your weights the wrong way, you might get scratched or cut by a rusty edge. You no doubt want to avoid needing a tetanus shot because of that.
For the above reasons, minimizing rust on your equipment is crucial. Doing so will save you money in the long term by keeping your weights usable.
Plus, no one wants their expensive barbells and plates to look worn out.
Can You Fix Rusted Weights?
If your garage gym weights already appear rusted, don’t worry — you can still clean them up.
To remove rust from weights, you’ll need:
- 2 gallons of white vinegar
- Tub large enough for your weights
- Metal brush
Here are the steps to remove rust from your dumbbells:
- Use a metal brush on your weights to remove visible rust. It’s okay if some of it is left.
- Fill a tub with 1:1 portions of white vinegar and water. Optimally, add enough of both that you can submerge your weights.
- Allow the weights to sit for 24-48 hours. Turn them over occasionally if not fully submerged.
- Remove the weights from the tub and dry them off with a towel. DO NOT let them air dry.
- Brush off any remaining rust if possible.
Also, consider applying paint or sealer meant for metals to stop your weights from rusting further after cleaning.
Unfortunately, garages are not designed (originally) to be gyms and therefore don’t have the equipment and structure built in that minimizes environmental damage. One key example is rust.
Weights will rust in a garage gym when preventative measures are not put into place prior to using and storing your weights in a garage.
To prevent weights from rusting in a garage you need to prevent humidity and have moisture control systems in place. While there are some quick and temporary fixes, the key solutions are to improve ventilation, add an air humidifier, and also a dehumidifier.
These additions will help to control moisture in a garage gym and go a long way to preventing rust on your weights. Other tips involve wiping your weights after use and using sealing paint to add a layer of protection.