How to Clean a Rusty Horse Bit: Leave Rust Behind For Good With Our Reliable Methods

Jan 02, 2024 | Super Equestrian


Are you tired of dealing with a rusty horse bit? And tried a lot of methods but nothing gave the best result, right? 

I was one of them and tested many methods that people say are effective, but honestly, they do nothing to remove the rust. One of these methods is applying toothpaste, which can only remove the stain from the rusted bit surface. But it does not remove the rust at all. 

Then, I talked to my horse trainer, and he suggested to me the best and most effective way to remove different types of rust from the horse bit. Plus he advised me to follow certain steps that play a great role in removing any kind of light or heavy rust. And he taught the precautionary and maintenance tips to protect the bit surface from rusting. Now I am completely satisfied with my clean and smooth horse bit. 

So, what are those proven and most effective ways to remove rust and clean your horse bit completely?

Why is it crucial to keep your horse a bit clean?

Why is it crucial to keep your horse a bit clean

Clean and polished horse bits work well and fulfill your riding goal by enhancing your performance. Because you can communicate and control your horse easily by pulling the reins, that is connected to the bit. If the bit is heavily rusted, it will not properly fit into the horse's mouth. As a result, it will not respond to your cues during riding. 

You might not know that horses love to eat rusted bits as they remain attached to their mouth. A small amount of rust does not cause any harm to their health. But if the concentration or amount of iron (rust contains iron) is increased in their body, it may cause serious health issues or toxicity. Plus the rusted bit stimulates excess salivation when in contact with their mouth. That's why it's crucial to keep the horse bit clean.

What causes rust on different types of horse bits?

Rusting is caused by the exposure of oxygen and moisture to the material or object of the bit. But all the bit materials are not rust-prone. Then, which materials cause rust or a reddish corrosive appearance over the bit surface?

What causes rust on different types of horse bits

Which materials are prone to rust?

Metallic elements commonly cause rust, because they contain iron. Other materials such as alloy can also cause rust, as it also contains iron. Stainless steel and iron contain material that can cause rusting. 

If the composition of the bit contains nickel, chromium, or other non-iron-containing elements, rust may form the attachment portion of the bit (ring, mouthpiece, or cheekpiece). This is very common in the case of cheap to moderate-priced horse bits.

How do moisture and sweat contribute to rust?

You already know that most of the bits contain metallic objects. When the iron of this metal gets exposed to oxygen or moisture and sweat, it forms a corroded layer over the bit. And this is called a rusted horse bit. Horses' saliva can also contribute to rust if combined with environmental humid oxygen and iron. 

The final product is iron oxide or rust. When the dirt, debris, and horse food (hay or grass) from their mouth accumulate with the rust, microbial growth occurs. As a result, your horse may suffer from serious infectious diseases. 

How can you clean different levels of rust on a horse bit?

You can follow some DIY or homemade methods or commercial rust removal techniques to clean different levels of rust on a horse bit. Keep in mind: Before starting the cleaning process separate the bit securely from the bridle

Light Rust:

Light rust indicates the initial phase of corrosion. When the outer layer of the horse bit is exposed to oxygen and forms a thin layer of rusted coating, it is considered as light rust. 

Soapy Water Soak

Soak the bit in a mixture of detergent and warm water for 2-3 hours. The rusted surface will lift gradually. You can soak the bit overnight to get better results. 

Vinegar and Baking Soda Paste: 

Mix these two ingredients together and make a thick paste by using some water. Then, apply over the rust and keep it rest for at least thirty minutes. After that, rub it with an aluminium foil and rinse the paste by using warm water. 

Lemon or Lime Scrub: 

Mix lemon juice and salt together to apply over the rusted bit. Keep the mixture there for thirty minutes and scrub it by using the lemon rind. Then, rinse off with warm water. 

  • Never apply any polishing agent to the horse bit, because it may be cracked out from the bit-surface and enter into your horse's stomach and cause serious health issues.

Heavy Rust:

When the rust penetrates the inner portion of the bit and forms a thick layer of oxidized coat, it indicates heavy rust. It gradually degrades the structural integrity of the bit. So, you have to take special care of the horse bit by using a good quality commercial rust remover and gentle scrubber. 

Commercial Rust Removers: 

Diluted forms of certain strong acids and alkalis (dissolve the rust quickly) and chelating agents (bind with iron and remove it from the bit) are used as commercial rust removers. Strong hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, tannic acid, citric acid, sulphuric acid, and oxalic acid are commonly used acids. 

Besides, sodium chloride and borax (salts that are used as a scrubber) and EDTA (chelating agent) are also used as commercial rust removers. They can successfully remove the heavy rust from the horse bit.

Wire Brush (Last Resort): 

Different kinds of wire brushes are available that provide forceful action to remove deep corrosion from the horse bit. Make sure to use a good quality brass or stainless steel wire brush that does not cause any damage to the underlying metal of the horse bit. 

To remove heavy rust from hard-to-reach areas of the bit (the rein ring, curb ring, mouthpiece, and cheekpiece), you can use strong and sturdy wire brushes that have long and sharp bristles. 

  • Don't forget to store the horse bit in a low moisture-containing room to protect it from rust buildup. You must take some precautionary measures (wearing gloves, mask, and safety goggles) before using commercial rust removers. 

What additional steps can you take to maintain your horse bit?

What additional steps can you take to maintain your horse bit

After cleaning the horse bit by using an appropriate rust remover, you have to follow some additional maintenance steps to prevent the reappearance of rust. A routine cleaning regimen can help you to maintain your horse bit properly.

  • Rinsing: After every ride, rinse the horse bit with lukewarm water to remove any visible dust or debris from its outer surface.
  • Gentle cleaning: Use a soft cloth or brush and gently clean all the parts of your horse bit with mild soap or detergent. Then wipe out the bit by using a towel.
  • Oiling or conditioning: After drying the wet bit, apply a lubricating agent, like oil or other good quality conditioner to keep the horse bit smooth and supple. Otherwise, the remaining foods from your horse's mouth will accumulate over the bit and form a hard cake-like substance with time. 
  • Sweet iron bits: Always try to use corrosion-resistant horse-bit to prevent the formation of rusting. Sweet iron bits can be a good option for you. It is composed of stainless steel with a coating of sweet iron. Horses like the taste of sweet iron and are encouraged to take this to their mouth. Moreover, this type of horse-bits tends to rust slowly rather than other bits. 
  • Special Tip: After cleaning the bit, apply a small layer of Vaseline or any petroleum jelly over the bit. Just remember: You have to apply Vaseline before going outdoors. Vaseline works as a barrier protectant or sealant. As a result, environmental oxygen can not be exposed to the bit surface.

Find out more:

Upgrade and Secure the Horse Trailer: Innovative Solutions for Roof Restoration 

In brief

The majority of equestrians commonly face the issue of rusty horse bits. They try various strategies to remove the rust but do not get the expected results. You have to go through a systematic approach to clean the rusty horse bit. 

In our small discussion, we have tried to provide you with the most effective strategies along with the maintenance steps to remove any kind of rust from the horse bit. If you find this information helpful leave a comment, and share it with anyone you know dealing with a rusty horse bit.

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