How to Easily Remove Rust From Tools

Have you ever accidentally left a tool out in the elements to rust?  I knew I had a pair of red handled clippers but had not seen them for a long while.  A few weeks ago, while digging out compost to apply to my vegetable garden, my clippers appeared in the compost.

Hurray for finding my clippers!  Boo to the rust that covered them.

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I learned that there’s an easy way to remove rust from tools with vinegar.  Yes, vinegar, the kind that you probably already have in your pantry.

 

How to Easily Remove Rust From Tools

Supplies

Vinegar

Water

Measuring Cup

Bucket

Wire Brush

Drill with Wire Brush Attachment

Steel Wool

Toothbrush

Rags

Gloves

Protective Eye Wear

**I found that Vinegar, rags, gloves, and a wire brush attachment for a drill are the essential items needed to clean a rusty tool.  I used all supplies shown but the drill attachment beat the wire brush and toothbrush for cleaning the metal hands down.**

How to Remove Rust on Tools - Supplies Needed

Procedure

1.  Soak the Tool in Vinegar

Dilute vinegar with water to get a 3:1 ratio of vinegar to water.  Pour mixture into a bucket, add your rusty tool, and let it sit overnight.

How to Remove Rust on Tools

 

This is what I saw after two hours of soaking.

How to Remove Rust on Tools

 

This it what I found the next morning.  Lots of rust is in the vinegar/water mixture.

How to Remove Rust on Tools

2.  Rinse the Tool in Water

Remove the tool from the vinegar water mixture and rinse with water.  I forgot to wear gloves for this step which was a mistake because I ended up with black hands and fingernails.

What a difference and I hadn’t yet scrubbed my clippers!

How to Remove Rust on Tools

 

3.  Clean the Metal

Dry the tool off with a rag and then clean all the metal parts using a wire brush, tooth brush, and steel wool.  I found that the wire brush attachment on my drill was the easiest way to do this.

Be sure to wear protective eye wear when you clean metal, especially when using the wire brush attachment for a drill.

How to Remove Rust on Tools

 

Did you notice that my drill is vintage?  This drill belonged to my grandfather and we must have inherited with the wire brush in place.  I was looking through cabinets in the workshop for a wire brush to use for this project and just happened to stumble across it.  I’m glad I did because it worked like a charm.  If you don’t have a wire brush attachment for your drill, I would get one if you have rusty tools to clean.  An $8 wire brush will save you a lot of elbow grease.  (affiliate link)

Antique Craftsman Drill with Wire Attachment

4.  Oil the Tool

Apply a small amount of oil to the metal parts of the tool to prevent rust from forming in the future.  I used mineral oil but my father-in-law told me that any oil should work.

How to Remove Rust on Tools -After -virginiasweetpea.com

Back when I watched Martha Stewart’s TV shows, I remember that she kept a flower pot full of sand mixed with motor oil in her gardening shed.  She stored her trowels and clippers in the pot to prevent rust.

 

I thought that I might need to sharpen my garden clippers after I cleaned the rust off of them but it wasn’t necessary.  If your tools need sharpening, a sharpening stone will do the job.

 

I feel like I have a new set of clippers now that I’ve found these and given them a good cleaning.  If you have rusty tools, try this method of cleaning them.  I was surprised at what a great job vinegar did at removing rust.

 

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Comments

  1. Your post couldn’t have been more timely, Paula. Just this afternoon I went outside to clip a few branches from a flowering tree to bring indoors and thought to myself how my clippers were in dire need of cleaning but didn’t know how. Now I do, thank you!

  2. Thank you for this! I remember my parents always using vinegar to clean rust. I just couldn’t remember what else there was to it. Now I have it pinned of course and will remember for next time:)
    Kathleen Rupp recently posted…Straighten Out Droopy Rope-lightsMy Profile

  3. Will have to use this method on my vintage tools…this is amazing…I just learned that you can kill weeds with a vinegar and salt solution….Vinegar…..a good thing!!
    Shirley@Housepitality Designs recently posted…Do you have a designated coffee station or room?My Profile

  4. This will come in handy in all sorts of situations where rust has “ruined” something! Thanks!

  5. Richard S says:

    Paula, I believe you could start a cottage business here in Lynchburg just cleaning rusty tools.

  6. Great post!! Thanks so much for sharing and thanks for stopping by!
    Hugs,
    Debbie

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