How to Clean Rusty Tools

How to Clean Rusty Tools | A Complete Guide

When metallic items such as spoons, knives and other forms of cutlery are exposed to a moist environment, they normally get rust. Rust does occur to metal and another element when exposed to certain environmental factors for a prolonged period of time. Leaving the rust to corrode the metal for quite some time may lead to damages which are not reversible. To avoid this, the rust should be dealt with immediately it occurs.

So how does one clean rust when it appears? What elements should one use to clean the rusty tools? For more information, please go through this article.

What causes rust?

Rust occurs when an alloy or an iron metallic substance is exposed to an environment with oxygen and moisture. It may not be an overnight process but it takes quite some time for the reaction to occur. With time, oxygen combines with the metal to form an oxide which weakens and erodes the metal eventually. At the point when the metal begins to corrode, the effect may not be reversible.

In fact, it even becomes harmful to human health, if such metal cuts you. But if the cleaning is done at an early stage, the rust can be totally removed.

how to clean rusty tools

Water is used to clean everything, why then does it cause rust?

The environment has a lot of water in the form of moisture. Pure water too such as the water from the tap can cause rusting. Water forms rust when it combines with iron to form an element known as hydrated oxide. This combination produces what is known as ferric acid which is responsible for forming rust. Rust is actually formed by a natural process only accelerated by the above element or agents. Water is the major contributor to rusting.

How do we clean rust from rusty tools? How to get the rust off tools.

As soon as you notice rust attacking your tools, the good thing is to fight it off. The first step to avoid rust is to keep your tools in a clean and dry place. Water is a great reagent, so it is advisable to keep water off from the storage. When your tools get rusty, how do you clean them? There are several ways to do the cleaning. This is the procedure:

how to remove rust from tools

By the use of vinegar.

  • Place the rusted tools in a basin large enough to submerge it. If part of the tool with rust can be disassembled, then you can dismember in order to clean only the part with rust.
  • Add vinegar into the basin containing your tools. Vinegar is usually acidic. It wakens or even removes the rust with a lot of ease.
  • Drop-in some salt into the vinegar solution to the correct proportion. The appropriate proportion of salt to vinegar is a quarter cup of salt for every one liter of vinegar. Salt is a strong reagent when mixed with vinegar. It increases the acidity level of vinegar. This enables the solution to act quickly and tough on the rust.
  • Since the action of removing the rust won’t be instant, you should leave the tools to soak for a number of days. If the rust was still fresh, it can be removed within a day. Rust that has reached the corrosive stage should be given up to three days to be removed. Generally, the longer the period the tools stay in the solution, the easier it is to clean.
  • Scrub of the rust using steel wool or a scouring pad. Scrub till all the rust is gone.
  • Rinse off the rust with clean water and leave it to dry. At the same time, clean the container well in order to rid it of the dirt caused by rust and vinegar.
  • Fill it with clean and freshwater. You do not need the vinegar anymore. To the water, you will add baking soda to the correct proportion. Just like salt and vinegar, it should be a quarter cup of baking soda for every liter of fresh, clean water. Thoroughly mix the two components until it forms a solution. Baking soda is used here to neutralize the acid which was obtained from the vinegar solution.

how to get rust off tools

  • Put back your tools into the new solution. Submerge it fully and allow it sufficient time for the solution to take effect. Then you will remove the tools from the solution and wipe them dry. Leaving them to dry on their own may leave it with water spots which may make it rust again. So you better use a clean towel to wipe it dry.
  • Scrub off the remaining pieces of rust using steel wool or even a scouring pad. It should be quite easy for it now to come off since it was weakened by a vinegar solution.
  • Finally, wipe the tools using a clean cloth dipped into the denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol ensures that there are no water traces on the surface of your tools. Any drop of water left behind will cause rust to occur again and you may be forced to repeat this long process again. If you have some oil, you can polish your tools to keep off rust completely. However, if it is not available, then,
  • Store your teals in a clean and dry place, away from water and moisture. However, you should keep on checking them to avoid rusting while in storage.

Are there other methods that can be used to clean the rust?

Yes, a few more methods of cleaning the rust do exist. However, the options are not many. They are as listed below.

  1.     You can sand the rust. This involves washing and scrubbing too.
  2.     You can buy oxalic acid from the local store and use it to clean the rust.

how to clean rusty tools

Acid and rust do not go hand in hand. The acid removes the rust and curtails it. Where you do not use acid, it may become a complicated task to deal with rust.


Rusting is a natural process that occurs when water and iron combine and reacts. This rust has to be removed as soon as it is noticed. There is more than one way to fight this menace and the procedure is as listed in the above discussion. Whenever possible keep your tools in a clean and dry place away from water and moisture.

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