How To Remove Rust From Metal

Having rust elements dominating the entire facets of your metals can be disheartening, and even more than that, irritating!

Rust is nothing but the by-product of a chemical reaction that occurs between your metal pieces and the environment.

Because your metal pieces are unstable or simply not contented with the current state they’re in (forget the fact that they look sturdy and all), they seize the slightest opportunity to react with elements in the environment to become more stable.

The end result is a red or red-brown deposit left on the surface of the metal, which we hate! And fortunately, there’s something we can actually do about it!

When you have rust deposited on the surface of your metal objects or tools, scrub as much rust as possible from the surface, gently, then soak the metal in a solution of 100% white vinegar for upto 24 hours depending on the severity of the rust. Next, take out the metal and scrub vigorously using a wire scratch brush or metal brush until the metal returns to its glorious state.

For really rusty metals, you might have to repeat the steps 2 to 3 times to fully remove the rust.

There are also other ways and techniques to deal with rusts on different kinds of metallic objects around the house. We’ll be discussing them shortly.

How To Remove Rust From Metals Using A Rust Remover

Removing rust from everyday objects like the metal parts of cars or bikes, wheels, tools, bolts, nuts, metal chairs, metal frames, cast iron pans etc., is actually quite easy.

Follow the steps below.

  1. First, we want to chip off as much loose rust from the surface of the metal as possible to make removal efficient. For this, we need a wire scrub brush or something equally as useful, for example, sandpaper, steel wool, or blade scraper. Whichever of them we end up using will depend on the type of item we’re working with, for example, a blade scraper will more likely suit a saw than metal rims. Use the tool to gently remove as much rust as you can from the surface of the metal. Remember to go gently to avoid scratches or cracks which can hold water in and make the metal even more rust prone. Also, ensure to protect your hands with rubber gloves and your nose with a face mask.
  2. Now use a rust stain remover like the WD-40 or Iron Out Powder to completely get rid of the stain. Before you go all in, you first want to test an inconspicuous area of the metal to see how it reacts with the remover. So apply the rust remover to a small portion of the metal and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Then scrub and wipe clean, and if no damage is incurred, proceed with the treatment.
  3. Apply the rust remover according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Using the instructions above is the easiest way to get rid of rust from any metal, and in fact, prevent it from further corrosion, since some manufacturers like WD-40 provide treatments that not only remove rusts, but protect metal surfaces from acquiring rusts in the future.

If your product doesn’t do any other thing aside removing rust from the metal, get a second product to protect the surface of the metal after cleaning.

How To Remove Rust Using Ingredients At Home

If you do not have a rust remover at home, there are other alternatives you can try to get rid of stains.


Wear gloves.

Pour a 100% solution of white vinegar into a bucket. Remove as much rust from the surface of the metal as you can and soak it inside the solution for 14 hours or more depending on how rusty the metal is. Just make sure you never submerge cast iron for so long in vinegar because it can pit!

Take out the metal from the solution and use a wire scrub brush or something similar to remove the rust. It should come off relatively easy!

If the nature of the object is such that it cannot be submerged, i.e a chair, work surface, or wide board, follow the procedures below.

First, remove dust and loose rust from the surface of the item, apply vinegar directly to the affected spot and use steel wool or aluminum dipped inside the vinegar to scrub against the spot. You might have to repeat this many times to actually get any meaningful result.

Baking Soda

Another great household rust remover is baking soda. To use this method, create a paste using baking soda and water or lime, then apply to the scraped off-rust surface.

Leave for 1 hour or more for the mixture to settle then scrub using a metal scourer to get the rust off. Repeat the process when some rust still persist on the surface.

Salt and Lime Juice

Apply lime or lemon juice to the rust spot and sprinkle salt over the area. Apply as much salt to create a thin layer on the metal.

Leave for many hours, preferable one day, while maintaining the dampness of the area with the application of more juice from the lemon or lime.

Now scrub off the rust from the surface using a scourer and wipe clean with a dry towel. Your metal should be rust free. If some rust still persists, repeat the process again!

Tamarind Water

Tamarind water is acidic, and just like lime, lemon or vinegar, it works to make lightly deposited rusts go away easily!

For the tamarind water technique, you want to boil four ripe tamarinds in water. Then remove them from the water and apply the solution to the affected rust spots.

Dip a metal scourer inside the solution and use it to scrub against the surface of the rust. It should come right off. Clean and dry with a rag.

Potato and Baking Soda Or Dish Soap

Potatoe contains oxalic acid which is great at tackling rusts. To make removal more effective, we use dish soap or baking soda to add more abrasive and cleaning power.

To use potato as a rust remover, cut it in half, length or width wise depending on how large the surface you’re going to be using the potato on is, then apply baking soda or dish soap on the cut surface of the potato.

Now use the exposed surface of the potato to rub and scrub against the rust area, doing so until you notice rust beginning to come out.

Slice the topmost surface of the potato to reveal a new flesh and repeat the process again until rust is completely gone.

Oxalic Acid

Another item you can use to get rid of rust is oxalic acid, but be very aware of it’s toxicity.

Stick to the instructions on the product label, use a nose mask to cover your nose, heavy duty gloves to protect your hands and also wear safety glasses.

You want to make sure you clean the rusted parts well first, before submerging them into the solution you made based on manufacturers instructions, then soak for as long as 4 hours or more depending on the severity of the rust, and take out and rinse to remove the acid. Dry immediately otherwise rust might begin to appear again.

Dispose of the solution under the sink.

How To Prevent Rust From Developing On Metals

  • Clean the items regularly with dish soap and water or with a metal cleaner, and thoroughly dry the metal object. When there’s no moisture, there’s typically no rust!
  • Use products designed to prevent rust on metal tools like the WD-40. These can displace moisture which prevent rust after washing, and also serve as a dry lubricant which does not bring the extra greasiness that oiling does.
  • For items you can apply oil to without any problems, such as workshop tools and small metal car parts, apply a thin coating of oil on them to create a barrier that inhibits rust formation.
  • Store items in low moisture areas to reduce the chances of rust formation. You can install a dehumidifier in really humid areas.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to remove rust from metal objects and some of them include ingredients that we already have at home, for example, potato and baking soda or white vinegar, whereas some include tough chemicals specially formulated to tackle rust stains!

The different techniques discussed above all have different rust removal power but all of them would work to tackle stains to some extent.

Remember, chemical formulations are meant to tackle larger rust areas and deeper problems, whereas DIY solutions are typically for light rust stains or relatively smaller problems.