How To Remove Rust From Old Tools

How To Remove Rust From Old Tools

Tools get rusty. It’s one of the things they do best. But they don’t have to stay rusty. The DIY experts at Stack Exchange offer a few solutions to keep your tools gleaming clean.

Photo provided by Stack Exchange.


Should I use sandpaper to clean the rust off old tools? Can I soak them in vinegar or lemon juice? Would I be better off just buying new tools?

Larry Morries (originally asked here)

Answer: WD-40 + Scotch Brite or “Rust Free”

While I don’t use hand tools much, I certainly own a lot of hand tools. This happens when you sell them all day. Norm Abram at This Old House provides some pretty good tips on cleaning rust from tools.

His tips, summarised:

– First, store tools in a dry drawer or toolbox. Use silica gel packets to keep this place even more dry (you can find these at a hardware store or use the packs that come with pills, electronics, etcetera).

But once rust appears…

Spray with a penetrating lubricant such as WD-40 and scrub with a heavy-duty Scotch-Brite pad. Abram is very clear that you should NOT use sandpaper, as it tends to scratch metal.

For seriously rusted tools…

– “For more heavily rusted metal, try a spray-on, wipe-off, acid-based rust remover like Rust Free. Follow with a rust-inhibitor spray like Boeshield T-9, which leaves a thin, waxy film on the surface. Wipe away any excess immediately.”

Klein makes an excellent guide that covers nearly all hand tools they sell. Check out the free, downloadable PDF “Proper use and care of Hand Tools” available here. — Answered by lqlarry

Answer: Evapo-Rust

I’ve used this stuff and it’s amazing — one of the most amazing products I have ever put my hands on. I left a drill press in the rain for two years, and after soaking the parts in Evapo-Rust they were restored to near brand new.

Check out this old thread for some pics: How to clean rust in hard to reach places?

Answered by Evil Elf

Answer: Naval Jelly

Yep. It works.

Answered by jamesson

Answer: Steel Wool & Elbow Grease (or DIY Electrolysis)

I’ve always just used steel wool etcetera. And elbow grease.

But if you really want to get crafty, pull rust from your tools using electrolysis. Check out ToolNut’s step-by-step instructions on how to make a DIY electrolyser for about $US40 at

Answered by Joe

Think you know the secret to removing rust from old tools? Leave your suggestion in the comments.


  • Molasses mixed with water at about 6 parts water 1 part molasses, if you are not in a hurry will completely remove rust without damaging good metal – just used it while restoring my car (it will also take old crappy paint off to some extent) – I found this much better than electrolysis as it gets into the gaps as opposed to being line of sight removal – takes a month or so and smells pretty bad.

  • I have seen E Rust but results so so.
    I have used Evapo Rust and results are good.
    The one that I have found to be an all round winner is Safest Rust Remover.
    You can use it in a bath and in a tank wash and hose with no frothing up like the others.
    No skin irritations that I found

  • They are the same, the only difference is the name & price . So l cannot see that one is better than the other. ?

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