10 Ways To Remove Rust From Tools And Hardware

How often do you get rusty tools or hardware? If you don’t clean them regularly, they’ll eventually rust out.

Metals form oxides when they react with oxygen in the air. This creates a protective coating that prevents further oxidation. It is common for construction equipment to rust.

The longer the tool or equipment sits idle, the thicker the rust layer becomes. Eventually, the rust eats through the surface of the metal and causes the item to become unusable.

Tool and hardware rust can be removed in several ways. The following ten methods are the most effective.

1. Clean with Vinegar

Vinegar is a great way to clean out any rust from tools and hardware, especially if they’re stainless steel. Due to its acidic and alkaline properties, it is a highly effective cleaning agent. It works well at removing rust stains from steel and aluminum as well as mildew and mold.

Simply mix one part vinegar with four parts water and use a clean rag or sponge to apply it directly to the affected area. Let it sit overnight before rinsing off.

2. Scrub with Salt

Salt is another great way to get rid of rust from tools and hardware without having to buy special chemicals.

If you’re looking for a quick fix to remove rust stains from tools and hardware, try scrubbing them with salt. This method is effective because salt contains sodium chloride, an electrolyte that helps break down rust.

Mix one cup of table salt with two cups of warm water and rub the mixture onto the affected areas. Rinse thoroughly after two to three hours.

3. Wash with Soap

Another option is to use soap. Mix dishwashing liquid with three parts of hot water and apply it directly to the stain. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Use a damp cloth to rub the stained area thoroughly.
Alternatively, you can also use detergent power to rub the rusty surface to remove the stain. This method becomes more effective if you use sandpaper to scrub off the rust.

4. Citric acid

If you need to remove rust quickly, try citric acid. Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of citric acid into hot water and let sit overnight. Scrub off with a brush in the morning to remove all rust.

Citric acid can remove paint from tools and hardware. If the surface isn’t painted or coated, this method will work. If you need to remove a stripped bolt that is rusted and stuck, citric acid can be a great solution.

5. Potato and Dish Soap

Potato has natural enzymes that break down the iron oxide coating that forms on metal surfaces. To use this method, cut the potato in half, soak it in dish soap, place the potato on the rusted surface, and leave it for a few hours.

Repeat as above but cut the potato’s used end, add more soap, and let it soak in the affected area. You can use both detergent and dish soap for this method. Also, it works great with vinegar and baking soda.

6. Baking Soda

Cleaning and deodorizing items can be accomplished with baking soda, a natural substance. It’s also known as bicarb of soda or cream of tartar. Also, it can be used on tools and equipment to remove rust.

Baking soda is an excellent alternative to salt for removing rust from tools. Make a paste by mixing baking soda with water. The mixture should be applied to the rusty area and left alone for approximately an hour. Use steel wool or brush to rub off the rust from tools or hardware.

7. Sandpaper

Sandpaper is the best way to remove rust from tools and hardware. Simply rub the surface of the rusty part with the paper until the rust disappears, and wipe down the surface with water after each pass. You should use sandpaper with a fine grit (100-150).

Regularly cleaning your tools and hardware can prevent rust from forming. A power sander may be a better alternative if you have one available.

8. Steel wool

Steel wool is a great way to remove surface rust from tools and hardware. It’s also inexpensive and easy to use. Simply grab steel wool and rub the rusted surface.

However, steel wool can cause irreversible scratches so you should be extra careful where you want to use the steel wool to remove rust. Wear a hand glove when using steel wool to remove rust; it will protect your hand.

9. Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is another option to remove rust. Pour lemon juice into the rusty area and allow it to sit for about 2-3 hours. Scrub the rust out using a toothbrush or damp cloth and rinse it with water.

You can even mix salt with lemon juice to make it more effective. This portion works great on a flat metal surface that is easy to rub.

10. Diesel

You can remove rust from tools and hardware with diesel. Diesel is a fuel derived from petroleum. The combustion occurs at a high flash point and a low vapor pressure.

To remove rust using diesel, soak the metal object in diesel for 12- 24 hours, then rub using a wire brush.


When you use tools or equipment, they get dirty over time. This can happen in the case of improper maintenance or from normal wear and tear. In either case, rust can form on metal surfaces, causing them to corrode and damage.

Sometimes, things get a bit frustrating when rust becomes an issue. Luckily, we have discussed some practical ways that you can use to remove rust from your tools and hardware efficiently. Also, check out simple and effective spring cleaning tips.


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