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How to Remove Rust From Metal in Easy Ways

Jennifer L. Betts
Saucepans And Kitchen Utensils

It can be disappointing to pull your favorite gardening shears or saucepan out, only to find it has rusted. When it comes to getting rust off of metal, there are a plethora of different natural and chemical cleaners you can try. Find out how to clean rust off of metal using vinegar, baking soda, salt and even citric acid.

How to Remove Rust Off of Metal

Rust can not only damage metal but it is a bugger to get rid of. Thankfully, you have a lot of options. Just remember when it comes to rust, attacking it quickly is key. And to make sure that you are ready for battle, you'll need to have a few rust-fighting tools in your cleaning arsenal.

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Lime or lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Potato
  • Dish soap (Dawn is recommended)
  • Citric acid
  • Rust remover
  • Brillo pad
  • Steel wool scouring pad
  • Toothbrush
  • Container for soaking items

Now that you know what you need, it's time to eradicate that rust!

How to Remove Rust From Metal With Vinegar

White vinegar is acidic. That is what makes it such a great homemade household cleaner. This acidic quality also makes it great for removing rust. For this method, you'll need vinegar, a container and a scrubber like a scouring pad or toothbrush.

  1. For lightly rusted metal or small areas, soak your pad in the vinegar.
  2. For heavily soiled or large areas, soak the metal in vinegar for up to 24 hours.
  3. Scrub the area.
  4. Resoak in the vinegar as necessary.
  5. Rinse and thoroughly dry.
Vinegar On Table

How to Clean Rust Off Metal With Baking Soda

If you have a smaller object with a light dusting of rust, then you might just reach for the baking soda and toothbrush. For this method, you'll follow these steps.

  1. Mix the baking soda with water to make a thick paste.
  2. Rub the toothbrush in mixture.
  3. Scrub the rust off the item.
  4. Rinse and dry well.
Baking soda effective polish of metal kitchenwares

How to Get Rust Off With Lime and Salt

Salt and lime aren't just great for making a killer margarita. They remove rust as well. While that might not be too appetizing, it's definitely true. For this rust-fighting method, you'll need to:

  1. Place your item in a small shallow container that fits it snuggly.
  2. Cover the rusted metal in salt.
  3. Pour to 2 to 4 tablespoons of lime juice over the salt.
  4. Let it sit for about 3 hours or so.
  5. Grab a toothbrush and brush the mixture over the metal.
  6. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
Baking soda, lemon with sponge

Cleaning Rust Off Metal With a Potato and Dish Soap

You've probably never heard of any cleaning recipe starting with a potato but that is exactly what you need for this rust removing method. Since potatoes are only so big, unless you are planning to use a whole bag, this method should only be used for small areas.

  1. Cut the potato in half.
  2. Coat the cut half in dish soap.
  3. Place it on the rust.
  4. Wait for a few hours and check.
  5. To reapply, just give your tater another slice and add more dish soap.
  6. Rinse and wipe.
  7. Voila! Rust free.
Rustic cooking concept

How to Clean Rust Off Metal With Citric Acid

While citric acid might not be just sitting around your house, it's easy enough to find. While this is a great method for removing rust, it will also remove paint so make sure to only use this method on unpainted surfaces like wrenches or pans.

  1. In 2 cups of warm water mix 2 tablespoons of citric acid.
  2. Submerge your item for several hours, overnight is best.
  3. Use a scouring pad to scrub any remaining rust.
  4. Rinse and dry.
Citric acid

Clean Rust Off Metal With a Brillo Pad

The power of a good scrubbing should not be forgotten. If you have some tools with a light dusting of rust or a pair of scissors starting to get rust spots, then you can just grab a Brillo or scouring pad.

  1. Get the pad a little wet.
  2. Scrub the rusted areas.
  3. Rinse and dry.

When using this method, you'll want to be careful of painted surfaces. If you are giving it a good amount of elbow grease, you can scratch the paint.

restoring cast iron skillet

How to Remove Rust From Painted Metal

Speaking of paint, it's now time to learn how to remove rust from painted metal. Maybe your kitchen pan is getting a bit of rust on the paint or you need to remove a bit of rust off your car.

  1. Mix together in a bowl:
    • ½ cup of baking soda
    • ¼ cup of vinegar and
    • 2 tablespoons of lemon or lime juice
  2. Use a cloth or toothbrush to add the paste to the rust.
  3. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Use a firm, circular motion to rub the paste and rust off with the toothbrush.
  5. Repeat as necessary.
  6. Rinse and dry.

How to Get Rust Off Metal With Rust Remover

Sometimes for large jobs or heavily rusted items, it is better to reach for a commercial rust remover. When it comes to using a rust remover, there are several to choose from like Evapo-Rust remover. These tried-and-true rust eliminators use chemicals to get rid of rust. Therefore, when using when of these cleaners, you'll want to make sure that you follow all the instructions and precautions carefully.

Preventing Rust

The ideal solution to keeping metal surfaces free from rust is to take preventive measures that can keep them from becoming rusty in the first place. Rust tends to form on metal as a result of prolonged exposure to moisture, so it's important to do your best to keep your belongings dry and out of the elements as much as possible. Therefore to prevent rust follow these tips:

  • Use a metal primer designed to prevent rust to seal the area that you have cleaned, then follow up with a coat (or two) of paint.
  • Keep your car clean and waxed, and store it in a garage or under a quality car cover.
  • Place a felt-lined cover made of heavy vinyl over your barbecue grill when it is not in use.
  • Dry your cast iron pans thoroughly before storing them, and season them regularly by rubbing them down with cooking oil.
  • Store your tools in a container with a lid to help keep moisture out.

While not all rust can be prevented, being careful with your metal belongings can reduce the frequency with which you will have to deal with this particular type of cleaning challenge.

Removing Rust From Metal

Rust on metal can happen to anyone, especially if you live in a climate or area with a lot of humidity. However, there are steps that you can take to help to prevent rust. Just remember the sooner that you deal with rust, the better it will be.

How to Remove Rust From Metal in Easy Ways