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7 Household Products That Make It Easy To Remove Rust

Remove rust - using Bar Keepers Friend on rusty garden clippers; before and after of clippers with rust, and cleaned of rust.

How To Get Rid Of Rust With Common Household Products

It’s been a long winter, so if you have checked your garden tools lately, you may be wondering how to remove rust. Sometimes in spite of your best efforts, tools do get rusty. It’s easy to think that your tools are beyond saving, but don’t throw them out just yet! There are plenty things you can use to remove rust from metal. And you probably already have many of them at home!

Today I’ll be sharing 6 different ways you can clean rust and rust stains, using everyday items from around the house. These methods are quick, easy, and effective at removing rust from all kinds of items! Give them a try, and you’ll find that rust is no match for your cleaning prowess! :-)

7 Ways To Remove Rust Using Everyday Items

Remove rust - putting a rusty canning lid in a bowl of white vinegar

1. Vinegar

If you’re looking for effective household products to remove rust, look no further than white vinegar. Just let the rusty item soak in vinegar for a few days, then give it a scrub. Repeat as needed until all the rust is gone. The best reasons to remove rust with vinegar are that it works well and requires almost no effort — just a bit of patience!

Related: 50 Amazing Uses For Vinegar You’ll Want To Know

removing rust with lemon and salt

2. Lemon & Salt

A great home remedy for rust stains on clothing or fabric involves a lemon and some coarse salt. Sprinkle the rust stain with salt, then squeeze half a lemon over the salt. Let it sit for an hour or two, then scrub the stain with the lemon rind. Launder as usual to remove the rust residue, salt, and lemon juice.

Related: 11 Highly Useful Things You Can Do With Salt

removing rust with baking soda

3. Baking Soda

If you have rust in a hard-to-reach area, a baking soda paste is likely your best bet! Just mix a handful of baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Then spread the paste over the rusty area, and scrub with an old toothbrush. Let the paste sit for an hour or two, then scrub again. Rinse the paste off, then dry the item thoroughly.

Related: 26 Impressively Useful Things You Can Do With Baking Soda

4. Potato & Dish Soap

As strange as it sounds, you can use a potato and a bit of dish soap to remove rust! Start by cutting a potato in half, then place the cut end of the potato in a shallow dish of Dawn dish soap. Let it soak in the soap for a few minutes.

Next, use the soapy potato to rub the rusted area. The soap helps remove general grime, while the oxalic acid in the potato helps break up the rust. Once the rust is gone, rinse and dry the item thoroughly.

Related: 28 Ways To Use Dawn Dish Soap To Make Your Life Easier

removing rust with sand paper

5. Sand Paper

If you’re dealing with a really thick layer of rust, you’ll have more success in removing it if you start with some good old fashioned elbow grease. Grab some coarse grit sand paper and rub it over the rusty area. After removing the roughest layers of rust, switch to a finer grit sand paper to avoid scratching the metal underneath.

Once you’ve sanded the rust down to a more manageable level, try one of the other methods listed here to remove the rest.

Related: 9 Practical Uses For Sandpaper You’ll Want To Know About

removing rust with bar keeper's friend

6. Bar Keepers Friend

If you’ve tried other methods and nothing seems to be working, reach for Bar Keepers Friend. This scouring powder contains oxalic acid, which reacts with iron compounds in the rust and makes it much easier to scrub away. (But be sure to wear protective gloves when using BKF, because it can easily irritate skin!)

Related: 14 Uses For Bar Keepers Friend That Will Astonish You

removing rust with bar keeper's friend - before and after of garden clippers

Use a wet sponge and a sprinkle of Bar Keepers Friend to scrub the rusty item. Then let it sit for a minute or two, and rinse the item thoroughly. Rust doesn’t usually stand a chance against this stuff!

tools on a magnet

7. Cream Of Tartar

You can remove rust from metal by mixing up 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar, and just enough hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. Apply the mixture to a rust spot, let it sit for 30 minutes, then wipe the surface clean.

How To Prevent Rust From Forming

The best defense is a good offense, and it’s no different with rust. You won’t need a rust remover if it never forms in the first place, so how do you keep your things rust-free?

The most important thing you can do is keep things dry. Moisture is almost always the culprit behind rusted metal. You should dry any metal item promptly if it gets wet, and be sure to keep your tools somewhere you know they will stay dry!

What’s the rustiest item you’ve ever cleaned up?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Homekeeping Tips

  • Aluminum foil and water works really well at removing rust. We had a metal shower caddy that rusted and I read a tip (can’t remember where) that said to get aluminum foil wet and rub it over the rust. I was amazed at how well it worked.

  • Any suggestion for removing rust from the front of my metal dishwasher and garbage can? I don’t think it’s stainless steel because of the rust streaks.

  • This is a preventative tip. Fill a large bucket with play sand and keep in your garage (or shed) and pour inexpensive motor oil into it. When you are done digging or pruning in the garden, wipe or rinse off your tools and insert them into the bucket of sand. Tools are easily located and stay rust free. Shovels, pruners, hoes stay beautiful.

  • I recall reading that you can keep your garden tools in a bucket of sand to help keep them from rusting. This makes sense, as when I was a kid growing up on a farm, when we would use rusted hoes or shovels in the dirt a lot, eventually the rust would come off. I also know that when my dad used to plow a field, the plow blades would eventually be shiny because of the “sanding” they got from the dirt.

  • I haven’t tried this yet, but I’ve noticed that when I buy certain kinds of tools online, they usually come with a thin layer of oil on them. I’ve been told that’s a way to keep them from getting rusty. So using the gardening shears in your photos as an example, at the end of the season you would clean them, then use a paper towel or rag to apply the oil (NOT food oil) before storing for the winter.

    • I use steel wool all the time for rust removal in my shop. Works great on metal tables & tools. It’s cheap, easy to use, and has other uses around my house. I usually wear a leather glove when I use it.

  • I have rust on the metal rim of the bathtub drain in my rental apartment. If I succeed in removing it, what’s a good way to prevent it returning? (My friends will thank me for not keeping my bathtub dry!)

    • Once the rust is cleaned off and you dry the metal drain plate, try rubbing the waxy side of wax paper on it. That will help repel water. Obviously will need to be repeated periodically as the wax will wear off, but you could probably do that once week whenever you clean the tub. I read that idea as a way to help keep water spots from forming on chrome faucets and it really works, so maybe it will help here as well.

  • Easiest way to remove rust – soak small items in a dish of toilet bowl cleaner overnight. Wear gloves when rinsing them off. Little or no elbow grease.

  • My family always cleaned rust off stuff with Coca Cola. Here’s a link: https://carfromjapan.com/article/car-maintenance/ultimate-car-cleaning-hack-remove-car-rust-coca-cola/

    In the article, they are even smarter than my family in that they use Diet Coke, so it doesn’t get sticky. Brilliant. (In our defense, there was no Diet Coke when I was young- only Tab!)

    Also, in grade school, our science teacher would persuade someone who lost a tooth to bring it in and put it in a glass of regular Coke- within a week (or two?), the tooth would be almost totally eaten away. That blew our tiny minds and made us all much more familiar with our toothbrushes, as nobody wanted to totally give up soda, lol.

    • I read a blog post recently about using coke and aluminum foil to remove rust on metal (example used was a chrome shower curtain rod). I tried it on the chrome handlebars of a tricycle I use as outdoor decor that had some rust and it worked. If I recall, you just wipe the coke on with a rag and then scrub with the wad of foil and wipe clean. Growing up on a farm, we used a lot of wd40 for rusted bolts and machinery parts. However, I don’t really care to use it in my house if I can use something milder and less smelly.

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