How To Remove Rust from Tools – You Need to Know

How do you store your tools at home? This is an important question you must answer when you want to preserve your tools. Though they don’t have an expiration date, tools can rust and lose their value. When a tool rusts, you are probably thinking about throwing it away. However, this is not the only option, you have tools can last a longer time with the proper care. You can even salvage rusting tools. So, how to remove rust from tools? There are several ways to do this. If you are interested to know how, read our guide.


how to remove rust from tools

Main Materials

The items listed below are the main solutions and ingredients for removing rust effectively.

  • Vinegar Solution: With its acetic acid, vinegar becomes a great cleaning agent to cut off grease and disinfect items.
  • Citric Acid Solution: Just like vinegar, citric acid contains properties that can easily remove stubborn stain and rust. This is a common ingredient in every cleaning solution.
  • Baking Soda: Because of its gentle alkali content, it can break down dirt and grease, and dissolve rust rapidly.
  • Lemon and Salt: Pairing lemon and salt is one of the best combos in cleaning. It’s at par with the vinegar and baking soda pair.
  • Potato and Dish Soap: Since potatoes are rich in oxalic acid, mixing them with dish soap can instantly attack the unwanted rust forming in your tools.

Additional Materials

  • Steel brush/wool: This is used to scrape off the rust from the tool’s surface.
  • Basin: This is a great container when mixing solutions and submerging the tools for cleaning.
  • Hot water: This is another supporting agent you can use when mixing with the cleaning solutions.
  • Paper Towels: This is for patting the tools dry or for cleaning excess substances from the tool’s body.

Some Ways to Remove Rust from Tools

There are some different types of methods in removing rust.

Method 1 - Remove Rust From Tools With Vinegar Solution

Remove rust from tools with vinegar solution

Remove rust from tools with vinegar solution

In getting rid of rust, this method is best used for steel tools. Since this method requires submerging, this is only applicable to items that are not easily affected by liquid exposure (e.g. paint). Also, this method is a simple and hassle-free process since you’re only going to let the tools sit on the solution. However, this may take longer, and you’ll have to wait before removing the tool from the solution.

The Process:​

  1. Fill in a basin with vinegar just enough to cover your tools.
  2. Submerge your rusty tools and leave them overnight.
  3. Remove your rusty tools and scrape the remaining rust with a steel brush or wool.
  4. Pat the tools with paper towels and repeat the process if needed.​

Method 2 - Remove Rust From Tools With Citric Acid Solution

Remove rust from tools with Citric Acid solution

Remove rust from tools with Citric Acid solution

This method is similar to that of the vinegar solution. You also have to submerge the tools and wait for it to do its magic. Although both citric acid and vinegar solution follow the same cleaning process, vinegar is more likely to be seen in your household than citric acid. You’ll have to visit the local stores to score the latter.

The Process:​

  1. Grab a basin and fill it with hot water just enough to cover your tools.
  2. Add two to three tablespoons of citric acid on it.
  3. Submerge your rusty tools and leave them overnight.
  4. Remove the items and scrub the remaining rust.
  5. Pat the tools until they are dry. Repeat the process if you need to.​

Method 3 - Remove Rust From Tools With Baking Soda

Remove rust from tools with Baking Soda

Remove rust from tools with Baking Soda

This is very effective with tools with light layers of rust. It is a common house product and a cheap one, so you’ll not have troubles buying it.​

The Process:​

  1. Rinse your rusty items with water. Pat them with paper towels, but leave them damp.
  2. Cover the damp tools with a dusting of baking soda.
  3. Leave the tools for an hour or two.
  4. Brush off the rust with a steel brush or wool until the rust is fully gone.
  5. Rinse your tools with water and pat them to dry.​

Method 4 - Remove Rust From Tools With Lemon and Salt

Remove rust with Lemon and Salt

Remove rust from tools with Lemon and Salt

An accessible and cheap way to clean off light rust of your tools, lemon and salt can scrub off the rust. What’s good about this solution is that it has a less abrasive approach in attacking the rust.

The Process:​

  1. Coat your tools with a general amount of salt. Focus on the rusty areas.
  2. Cut a lemon and use the half of its juice to make a mixture mix with salt.
  3. Let the tools sit for an hour or two in the mixture. Then, scrub the tools with a steel brush or wool.
  4. Rinse with water and pat them until they’re dry.

Method 5 - Get Rid of Rust with Potato and Dish Soap

Potato and Dish Soap solution

Remove rust from tools with Potato and Dish Soap

This works very well with items that have reachable rust stains. This can be really messy since the potato would soon disintegrate, so work on a sink for easy water access.​

The Process:​

  1. Cut a potato in half and apply dish soap on its open part.
  2. Rub the potato on the tools until the rust fades away.
  3. Rinse with water and repeat the process if needed.
  4. Once clean, pat the tools until they dry off.

Helpful Tips To Prevent Tools From Rusting Again

No. 1 - Place your tools in ideal spots:

  • Dry areas where you can hang them
  • Original cases or storage boxes of tools
  • Storage areas with rust collector and silica gel packs

No.2 – After every use, you should religiously clean all your tools to prevent the accumulation of dirt and moisture. Leave them as pristine as possible.

No.3 – One way to easily fight off the rust is to apply WD-40 on your tools for a shinier and lasting coating. Also, when you think there is moisture in your tools, wipe them dry.


Tools can last a long time if you’d take care of them properly. With this guide, I hope that you are not only able to recover your old rusty tools, but you are also now able to maintain your new ones.

If you have more suggestions and stories to share, leave a comment below.

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