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How to Remove Rust

Rust is unsightly and can be difficult to get rid of. Read on for some simple tips & tricks on how to remove rust without damaging the surface under it.


how to remove rust

Rust is a reddish brown layer of iron oxide that forms when an object containing iron is exposed to oxygen and water, like moisture in the air. In humid climates and near the ocean, rust is likely to form on tools, door hinges, and even metal clasps and fittings. Here are several easy tips on how to remove rust from metal on your household objects and clothing.

Removing rust can be difficult, but there are specialised commercial products designed just for this purpose. Alternatively, you can use household items to tackle rust in different places in your home and garden. For example: vinegar will help to dissolve rust on metal! Just be sure to test any cleaning product on a small area first to make sure there is no damage.

How to Remove Rust & Rust Stains

With all the tips below, test any products you use on a small area of your surface or material first, and always read product labels to ensure that you are using them properly. Remember to rinse your object or article of clothing with clean water after you’ve removed the rust and allow it to dry fully.

Commercial Rust Converters

There are a number of commercial rust remover products and they often work differently, so be sure to read the instructions carefully. These products can be very powerful, so you will most likely need to wear gloves and use them in a well-ventilated space, as the fumes can be dangerous.

White Vinegar and Salt

This is one of the most popular solutions, the idea being that vinegar will dissolve the rust off the metal.

  • To remove rust from small objects, soak them in a bowl of white vinegar for up to 24 hours.
  • When dealing with larger objects, pour a layer of vinegar over the rust and then add a layer of salt, or dip aluminium foil in vinegar and use it like a brush to scrub off the rust.
  • To remove rust stains on fabric, saturate the stain completely with white vinegar, cover it in a layer of salt, and then gently rub the salt in. Let the stain soak for a few hours and then blot or rinse the rust away.

Lemon or Lime Juice and Salt

A simple recipe that’s not as harsh as vinegar.

  • Cover the rust or rust stain in salt, then fully saturate it with lemon or lime juice. Mix the juice and the salt together, and let it soak for a few hours.
  • In the case of white clothing, the next step is to lay the fabric out in direct sunlight for up to 60 minutes, which should remove the stain.
  • With metal objects, use the rind of the lemon or lime to scrub away the rust afterward.

Baking Soda Paste

This relies on the abrasive quality of baking soda to remove the stain.

  • Mix baking soda with water into a paste, then spread it on the metal or the rust stain. Allow the paste to soak into the rust, and then scrub it off using an old toothbrush, a wire brush, or steel wool. You may need to repeat this a few times.

You are now armed with four easy versions of rust remover in your home or garden. With just a little work, those reddish brown marks will be history – give it a try!

DON’T use bleach. Bleach is not a rust remover – whatever you do, don’t apply chlorine bleach to the rust or the rust stain. It may react with the rust and worsen the discoloration.DO scrub it off – if the rust is only superficial, you can scrub it off before you apply any rust removal solutions. This should be done only on tools, dishes, and metal fittings that you don’t mind getting a bit scratched. Use steel wool, sandpaper, a wire brush, or even a crumpled ball of tin foil to scrub the rust away. Don’t try this on clothing.

Safety Warning

Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

Originally published