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How To Remove Rust From Tools

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Finding the right way on how to remove rust from tools is a tricky dilemma. You can see on the internet that there are plenty of ways on how to remove rust from tools but not all of them work properly.

Look no further! We've gathered three of the easiest and most efficient ways to remove hard rust from any metal!

In this article:

RELATED: How To Restore A Rusty Cast Iron Griddle Using A Ball Of Steel Wool

Here Are Some Easy Ways on How to Remove Rust From Tools

1. Using Lemon and Salt 

What You Will Need:

  • Lemon
  • Salt
  • A big enough tub to hold the solution and fit your tools
  • A pair of gloves
  • A metal brush or a steel wool

Step 1: Mix Your Lemon and Salt

The number of lemons you will be using for this removal process depends on how big your tools are and how many you need to clean.

Mix your lemon and salt solution properly and transfer it to your prepared tub.

Step 2: Soak Your Tools

Soak all your tools into your lemon and salt solution and leave them there for eight hours. You can leave them in for a shorter period of time, depending on the level of rust present on your tools.

Turn your tools every 30 minutes to make sure that all the sides, nooks, and crannies of your tools are well exposed to the lemon and salt solution.

Step 3: Brush With Metal

After eight hours of sitting in the solution, you can now take all your tools out! Brush them with your metal brush or a ball of steel wool to get rid of any rust residue.

Wash them under running water and marvel at your shiny, rust-free tools!

2. Using Baking Soda


What You Will Need:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • A pair of gloves
  • Metal brush or steel wool

Step 1: Make a Paste

Mix baking soda with water to make a paste. Make sure to add a small amount of water each time so you can carefully not make it too watery or too thick.

Apply your paste to the area of your tools that have rust. Then let it sit there for several hours.

Step 2: Scrub It Off

After sitting for several hours, scrub off the baking soda paste using your metal brush or your ball of steel wool. Rinse under running water to remove excess solution and rust, and dry completely for rust-free working tools!

RELATED: Easy DIY Auto Rust Repair On A Budget

3. Using Vinegar

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What You Will Need:

  • White distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • Tub to fit all your tools
  • A pair of gloves
  • Metal brush or steel wool

Step 1: Pour It!

Pour the vinegar into your tub that should be big enough to fit all your rusty tools that need cleaning. You can use any type of vinegar for this process.

Let it sit for several hours or up to 24 hours for thicker rust.

Step 2: Yup, Scrub It!

After leaving your tools in for the allotted time, take them out from the tub one by one and lay them in your sink. Just like all the rust removal options above, scrub of excess dirt and rust using your steel wool or metal brush.

Wash each tool properly under running cold water and dry completely

Now, you have the three easiest ways on how to remove rust from tools!

While it may seem like a daunting task, do not be intimidated. At the end of the day, all it really takes to remove it is to have a strong solution to soften the hard rust and some good old scrubbing using elbow grease!

So don't be afraid, go ahead and try out all the options and see which one works best for you.

What did you think of these easy ways on how to remove rust from tools? Did you find it easy or difficult to do? Tell us in the comments section below!

Up Next:

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  1. For any of these de-rusting solutions (all of which work well, but I find the vinegar least expensive, least work-intensive and most effective) to be successful, it is CRITICAL to do two things at the end:

    1) Remove ALL the de-rusting media, and
    2) Deter flash rust.

    Flash rust is a light orange haze of iron oxide that will develop on the tool or part within MINUTES of removing and cleaning the tool or part. Just exposure of the naked steel or iron to the open air is enough to promote iron oxide formation, sometimes in mere seconds!

    The best way I’ve found to clean a piece following the de-rusting procedure is to wash it in HOT water, the hotter the better- this not only aids in cleaning the media from the metal by completely dissolving it, but also warms the metal and aids the drying process. I just use paper towels, although if it’s a coarse surface like a file, I sometimes use compressed air (or even a hair dryer, which might work better) to drive the moisture out of the crevices.

    Then, while the piece is freshly dry and still warm, I spray or dip it in oil. It doesn’t matter what kind, really- I’ve used WD-40, 3-in-1, motor oil, even USED motor oil- the critical part is that you get the oil on IMMEDIATELY following the drying step. It’s also very important to make sure ALL the moisture is off the part, or you will get pockets of corrosion where the oil did not adhere and some moisture remained.

    I usually let the part sit with the oil on it for at least 10 minutes to allow it to soak into the pores of the metal. If it’s a part or tool I won’t be using for a while, sometimes I’ll even wrap it in an oil-soaked shop towel and slip that into a plastic bag, to ensure the metal is protected. When ready to use or put into a drawer, simply wipe off the excess oil and you’re ready to go.

    I have resurrected several old parts this way: vernier calipers, a bench height gauge, several sets of wood lathe chisels, old files, and the usual assortment of wrenches, screwdrivers, sockets, ratchets, etc. Keep them clean, keep them dry, keep them oiled, and they will be a legacy of craft and care to pass to future generations!

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