You undoubtedly have some rusty tools if you’ve ever left your tools outside in the elements. Old tools that are improperly stored are also frequently rusted.
When you can restore those rusted hand tools, don’t throw them away. Here is a technique for cleaning rust off tools. Let’s get going now!
Table of Contents
What Is Rust, Anyway?
When iron (or an alloy containing iron, like steel) is exposed to oxygen and moisture for a prolonged period of time, iron oxide, also known as rust, a reddish-brown flaky coating, forms.
It’s proof that I don’t always do as I say when it comes to cleaning my garden tools before storing them, to put it another way.
I would need to use a Dremel rotary tool to sand away the rust at this level of corrosion, or put a lot of effort into using a wire brush or steel wool. Of which neither was a desirable choice!
Fortunately, there is a method for de-rusting garden tools that requires no hard work and only two common household ingredients. (Additionally, you can do this with any tool, not just gardening equipment.)
Equipment To Remove Rust Without Scrubbing
- Rusty tool
- Cleaning vinegar or white distilled vinegar
- Empty jar, aluminum can, or small container (a large yogurt container works great)
- Heavy-duty scouring pad
- Soft clean rag
- 3-IN-ONE Multi-Purpose Oil
How To Remove Rust On Tools?
First, Give Your Tool A Vinegar Bath.
Just enough vinegar should be added to the container or jar holding your tool to completely cover all of the rusted components. Depending on the amount of rust and the type of vinegar used, soak the tool for 12 to 24 hours. (Small amounts of rust can sometimes be removed in as little as an hour or two.)
The majority of the rust will have fallen off after 12 to 24 hours, and the remaining portions will be loose and simple to remove by hand.
Second, Cleaning The Rust Off.
After removing your tool from the vinegar solution, wipe off any remaining rust particles on the metal with a powerful scouring pad (such as the green Scotch-Brite). They should easily remove themselves.
Make sure to use the scouring pad to get into all the nooks and crannies on tools with moving parts, such as pruners. To get rid of any remaining rust flakes and vinegar residue, give the tool a thorough rinse in clear water.
If your tool is severely rusted, perhaps it hasn’t been cleaned in a long time?) you might need to repeat Continue with Steps 1 and 2 until the rust has been completely eliminated.
Third, Lubricate And Dry The Tool.
When your tool is rust-free, thoroughly dry it with a soft cloth. Pay attention to pivot joints and gears, which are easy places for moisture to collect, and make sure they are as dry as you can.
Apply a few drops of 3-IN-ONE Multi-Purpose Oil to the blade and joints of your tool to prevent new rust from forming, then wipe them down to spread the oil around.
Try to establish a routine of wiping down your tools with a small amount of 3-IN-ONE Multi-Purpose Oil after each use to remove grime and add a protective coating for storage. Maintaining dry and well-lubricated tools is essential for having clean equipment.
The majority of the work can be done for you if you make this simple DIY tool cleaning station.
How Can Bigger Tools Be De-rusted?
You can dunk tools like shovels and hedge clippers in a 5-gallon bucket of cleaning vinegar or white vinegar if they won’t fit in a jar, such as these. It follows the same procedure as Steps 1 and 2 above, only scaled up to accommodate bigger tools.
Alternately, you could spray vinegar on the tool before wrapping a towel that has been soaked in vinegar tightly around the rusted area (like a shovel blade). The tool should be wrapped in a towel, placed in a plastic bag, tied loosely, and left for 24 hours. (The towel is kept moist and doesn’t leak all over your surface thanks to the bag.)
By then, the rust should have mostly dissolved, and the remaining particles are simple to remove with a scouring pad.
Before storing, make sure to thoroughly dry the tool and apply a thin coat of 3-IN-ONE Multi-Purpose Oil. This will remove any remaining rust flakes and vinegar.
What Distinguishes Cleaning Vinegar From White Vinegar?
Did you know that a certain kind of vinegar is designed specifically to remove residue like grease and grime from surfaces?
White vinegar, which is what you use in the kitchen, is only 5% acidic compared to cleaning vinegar’s 6% acidity. Although it might not seem like much of a difference, the extra 1% actually makes cleaning vinegar 20% stronger.
While many acids are useful for removing rust, I already have vinegar (acetic acid) at home, and it’s a cheap, practical item to keep on hand.
In addition to grocery stores, it can be found in many home improvement and discount stores in the cleaning section, right next to the white vinegar. It’s the least expensive non-toxic household cleaner you can purchase, costing only $3 to $4 per gallon.
If you don’t forget about your tools while they’re in the vinegar bath, the mild acid dissolves rust securely without harming them.
White vinegar also works well, but cleaning vinegar works harder and faster (especially on very heavy, stubborn rust). Make use of what is at your disposal.
Tips To Prevent Tools From Rusting
There are many ways to get rid of unwanted rust, but one stands out above the rest: prevention. You can avoid a rust issue altogether by using the following advice.
- Remember to always dry your tools off right away after using them, and you can even spray WD-40 (available on Amazon) on them to prevent rust.
- In a tidy, dry location, keep your tools. Moisture is drawn to dust, and moisture causes rust. Yes, you should also dust your toolbox and home.
- Keep the moisture out of your toolbox. To remove surplus moisture, use silica gel packs, which you can find at your neighborhood home improvement store. Alternately, you could make use of an antique wooden toolbox. Any extra wetness will be absorbed by the wood.
- Finally, purchase a dehumidifier to regulate the environment and reduce humidity for the highest level of protection. It will keep you comfortable as you work on your next task with your rust-free equipment in addition to protecting your metal tools.
Why Is Vinegar So Effective At Removing Rust?
What actually occurs when you soak rusty tools in vinegar, then?
Here is how science explains it.
3CH3COOH + FeOOH ⟶ Fe(CH3COO)3 + 2H2O
This means that iron (III) acetate, also known as iron (III) acetate, which is water-soluble, is produced when the chemicals CH3COOH (acetic acid, which vinegar contains) and FeOOH (rust) interact.
As a result, the rust disintegrates and lifts off the metal surface. If you’ve ever wondered why the vinegar appears so rusty after soaking, it’s because iron acetate is floating around in it.
It’s crucial to use an oil like 3-IN-ONE after the vinegar because it doesn’t actually clean the tool; rather, it just removes the rust.
Read More: How to Clean Tools?