How to Clean Corrosion Off Fishing Reel

Rust is, unfortunately, the number one kind of corrosion that shows up on fishing reels. Corrosion as a whole is the result of the reaction of metal and another substance including oxygen or hydrogen, an electrical current, or extreme pressure.

Even if you take the best possible care of your fishing reel, you’re still likely to experience corrosion issues at some point — and when you do, you’ll be left wondering how to clean corrosion off fishing reels.

Luckily, we can help you with exactly that.

Today’s article features information about the various types of fishing reel corrosion, as well as a few tried and true methods for removing existing corrosion and preventing new corrosion from forming.

What Are The Different Types of Corrosion?

Fishing gear is prone to developing one of two types of corrosion, which can present itself in a number of different forms.



Chemical corrosion is a type of corrosion that forms after your reel comes in contact with harmful chemicals. These chemicals can and do include anything that can affect the structural integrity of a material. Oxides and acids are two of the most popular chemicals that cause corrosion.


Galvanic corrosion is the result of two types of metal that have different electromagnetic properties reacting. To the presence of one another. Essentially, this reaction causes one metal to corrode quickly and another to corrode very slowly, as the two metals try to balance their electromagnetic energies.

Forms of Corrosion


Crevice corrosion is when corrosive materials become stuck in a crevice, which accelerates the rate of corrosion.


Surface corrosion is a popular form of corrosion that occurs when fishing reels are left out in the open and exposed to the elements for prolonged periods of time. It’s most common where sand is concerned or when a reel has been damaged and then left out, exposed to oxygen. This kickstarts the development of rust.


Stress corrosion is a possibility when stress that’s exerted on a reel combines with the corrosive effect of another property, whether it be physical or environmental.

How to Clean Corrosion Off Fishing Reels


WD-40 is a go-to rust and corrosion preventative product. But did you know that it can also be used to get rid of various types of corrosion?

To use WD-40 to remove corrosion from your rod and reel, all you have to do is spray the reel with the product and use a wire brush and gentle scrubbing to lift the rust off the item in question.

Before completing the entire task, it’s a good idea to do a small section and then check for damage. This is so you can be sure that the wire brush hasn’t damaged your surface, which could be possible if it has been weakened by the corrosion.


Vinegar is an all-natural, multi-purpose cleaner that can be used for general cleaning and deep cleaning — including rust and corrosion removal.

To use vinegar to remove corrosion, simply soak the reel in a bath of vinegar for several hours. You can also choose to use a cloth to wipe vinegar evenly over the surface of the reel and then let it sit so that it settles.

Alternatively, you could use a piece of aluminum foil that has been dipped in vinegar to gently scrape away the corrosion.

Regardless of which of these vinegar methods you use, be sure to gently scrub the corrosion after applying the vinegar and allowing it to soak/settle. You should also be sure to rinse the vinegar off with clean water after the process is complete.

Commercial Chemicals

Commercial chemicals can, of course, be helpful for removing corrosion. There are a variety of different companies that make these products, which makes choosing one the hardest part of this method.

Keep in mind that these products are abrasive and can be dangerous for children and pets, requiring careful supervision and plenty of ventilation for use. They also require time to sit and a moderate amount of scrubbing.

Baking Soda

Another handy DIY option for removing corrosion is baking soda. Baking soda is abrasive, which makes it ideal for removing stuck-on corrosion such as rust. Using a mixture of baking soda and water that has been mixed into a thick paste, use a toothbrush or other scrub-like brush to remove the corrosion. Rinse with water when you have finished.

Preventing Corrosion

The best way to fight corrosion is to prevent it from forming in the first place. You can do this by thoroughly rinsing your saltwater reels with fresh water after each use. Conventional reels should be submerged in a bucket of fresh, clean water, while spinning reels can be run under the garden hose or faucet.

In either case, reels should occasionally be taken apart and oiled or greased.


There are two main types of corrosion (and a handful of forms that they can appear in) that can plague your angling efforts. Luckily, corrosion can often be remedied before you’re forced to buy a new reel.

You can use natural methods such as baking soda or vinegar, or opt for harder, more commercial methods such as WD-40 or corrosion-specific chemicals that have been specifically designed to handle the issue.

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