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If you've ever neglected your tools then you know how easily they can rust.

When my husband and I got married, my father-in-law gave us some of his tools. A sturdy old box, filled with everything we could possibly need. The thing is, we didn't need them -- not for while, anyway. That box sat untouched for a few years. It wasn't until we bought a house that we found ourselves digging into that old neglected tool box. Needless to say, we were met with rusty wrenches, screwdrivers, and the like.

Luckily, bringing them back to life is easy.

Rust is iron oxide, a product of corrosion that results when iron is exposed to air and water. Acid forms on the surface of the wet metal, mixes with dirt and dust, and forms rust which then spreads.

If you've caught the problem early and the corrosion is still only confined tsurface spots, you should be able to scrub it away. Cover the rust spots with WD-40, and scrub it with sandpaper. If that doesn't do the job thoroughly enough, graduate to steel wool.

If a good scrub isn't enough, try this The Baking Soda Method:


Baking soda
Lemon juice

1. Mix the baking soda and lemon juice to make a thick paste.
2. Spread the paste over the rust spots and wait a few minutes.
3. Wipe it clean with a dry towel.

A similar paste can be made from salt and lemon juice. Another option is this Salt and Vinegar Solution, which is great for minor spot work:

White vinegar


1. Squirt lemon juice over the rust spots.
2. Pour salt directly onto the spots.
3. Scrub the spots with a brush.
4. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly.

Or how about the plain old Vinegar Method:

White vinegar

1. Soak your tools in undiluted vinegar. This will eat away at the rust, but it will potentially strip your tools as a result. Do not use vinegar on anything brass.
2. After you've soaked the rusty items, rinse and dry them.
3. If any small rust spots remain, you should be able to scrub them off.

If the rust is too tough for the above solutions, try The Molasses Method.
1 part Blackstrap molasses
9 parts water

1. Mix the molasses and water together in a bucket
2. Immerse the corroded tools
3. Let sit (heavily corroded tools will take as long as 3 weeks)
4. Remove the tools and wash them
5. Dry thoroughly

Commercial Solution
Most jobs don't need a commercial solution, but if DIY ones aren't cutting it, there is a selection of commercial products available for removing rust from tools. You'll find products like the popular (and environmentally friendly) Evapo-Rust at your local hardware store.

How to Prevent Rust

Once you've removed the rust, you'll want to take some preventative steps, making sure you don't have to deal with the same problem again and again. Here are some tips for keeping your tools rust-free:
1. Apply a light coat of WD-40 after each use. If you don't use the tools regularly, apply another light coating between uses.
2. Keep your tools clean and dry.
3. Place a few pieces of charcoal in your tool box to prohibit the accumulation of rust.
4. Combine old motor oil and sand in a bucket. After each use, stick the tool in this bucket. The oil and sand will protect the tool.
5. Read ToolSnob's review of the 3-in-1 No Rust Shield.

  • travis

    When I was in the Navy we used to clean the metal floors with bug juice, or kool -aid

  • Ed

    The Navy doesn't have "FLOORS".

    USN Ret

  • elcidr

    I just soak them overnight with Coke/Pepsi. Best solution around. Then lightly oil with WD40.

  • Larry

    To remove rust, you can always use a wire brush with a handle, or a wire brush that attaches to a drill to quickly remove the rust and renew the finish of your tools.

    If the tool has a wooden handle (like a chisel), you can sand off the finish on the wood until the wood is smooth, then dip the handle into some lacquer or polyurethane to refinish it. If the wooden handle is cracked, fill-in the crack with plastic wood, sand until perfectly smooth, then spray with Krylon spray paint (of course mask off the metal portions of the tool with masking tape).

    Tools can last forever if you take good care of them. Tools are one of the best investments you can make.

  • Kman

    All that is just ridiculous.

    1) Insert wire brush into drill

    2) Blast rust away with wire brush

    3) Coat with oil

    4) Open can of beer and drink in celebration.

    Repeat as necessary.

  • MistyMirage

    Soak them for 24 hours in diet pepsi. No kidding.... try it

  • Oat64

    Use C.L.R., works great, also for copper and brassand possibly silver use (and this is no joke) the sauce from a can of SpaghettiO's. I guess any tomato sauce similar to this might work, but I have only tried the O's. Put it all over the item to be cleaned and let sit (a few minutes to a few hours, dependingon how bad the tarnish) rinse using a detergent, dry and if you wish use a protectant like WD-40, or even vegetable oil for a mean clean green sheen, knowhatimean?

  • tom

    put some "Peloski" on it

  • Phil

    For Ed, USN Ret.......

    Good catch Ed ! At least Travis remembered "BUG JUICE" LOL

    Phil USN Ret, Jax Florida

  • William

    Bench grinder with a wire brush attachment. Wear heavy leather gloves.

  • Duane


  • 11 Comments / 1 Pages

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