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How to Get Rust Off Metal (Definitive Guide)

Feb 10, 2021

All metals are prone to corrosion. Rusting is part of corrosion that only affects metals made of iron, iron alloy, and steel. Rust forms when metals are exposed to water and oxygen. Humidity and temperature can also cause rusting in metals.

But the good news is that there are many ways to get rid of rust from metal tools and small objects. You’ll be surprised how easy these rust removal methods are. Plus, all the materials you need are already in your pantry.

In this article, you will learn about the tried and true methods of bringing back the original luster of metal objects around your house.

Ways to Remove Rust from Metal

Home Remedies that Remove Rust from Metal

1.White Vinegar

White Vinegar to remove rust from metal

The acidic quality of white vinegar makes it ideal for removing rust on small objects such as kitchen utensils and tools made from metal. You just have to soak a small household item in a container with the vinegar and let it sit overnight.

This rust removal method is suitable for small, all-steel items that you can soak in a bowl or container of white vinegar. Also, this process does not compromise the integrity of other surfaces.

Moreover, this is one of those super easy “let sit and forget” methods that anyone can do at home. However, it may take awhile for the rust to dissolve. And so, you have to soak the items overnight. You might also have to repeat the process until the rust is completely removed.

(Photo credits)


  • White vinegar
  • Container
  • Scrubber (toothbrush, scouring pad)


  1. For small rusty areas, submerge your pad in the vinegar. For large areas or heavily soiled metal objects, use a rag soaked in white vinegar and then wrap the rusted area.
  2. Scrub the area.
  3. Resoak the item in the vinegar as many times until all the rust is removed.
  4. Rinse and dry the items.

2.Baking Soda

baking soda to get rust off metal

This is a simple method to get rid of rust using a cheap and easy-to-find ingredient. Baking soda is suitable for removing rust with a light dusting of rust in smaller metal objects. It is also an ideal rust removal option for light rust rings and less severe rust in thin metals.

Again, baking soda only works well on light rust stains and rusts on thin metal surfaces. But it can dissolve rust faster than other rust removers. And so, you have to wait at least an hour before you can start to work away from the rust.

A ball of steel wool is the best tool for this method. You might also need to use some elbow grease.


  • Baking soda
  • Steel wool or scouring pad
  • Water
  • Toothbrush


  1. Create a thick paste by mixing baking soda and water.
  2. Rub the toothbrush in the mixture.
  3. Scrub the rust off the metal object.
  4. Rinse and dry thoroughly with a piece of cloth.

3.Potato and Dish Soap

potato and dish soap to remove rust

It may sound crazy, but this potato and dish soap combo works like a charm. You probably never heard of this before, but using potato and dish soap is a proven method that is excellent at removing rust in metal objects.

Potatoes contain oxalic acid, a potent rust remover. Oxalic acid is used commercially as a:

  • wood-bleaching agent
  • calcium remover and
  • as a laundry rinse

This method is best applied on easy-to-reach areas with small, less stubborn rust stains. It can remove rust on kitchen appliances quickly. Besides, the materials you’ll need are already in your pantry. That said, make sure to work somewhere outdoors or over a sink as this is a messy rust removal method.


  • Potato
  • Dish soap
  • Salt or baking soda (optional)
  • Knife


  1. Slice the potato in half.
  2. Cover the cut half in dish soap and apply it to rusty areas.
  3. Wait for a couple of hours and check.
  4. Rinse and wipe.

You might need to repeat the process until the metal surface is rust-free. You can use regular dish soap as a coating on the potato to scrub the rust away.

Also, you can sprinkle a small amount of salt (or baking soda) on the dish soap coating. The mild abrasive quality of salt can help brush the rust off as it dissolves.

4.Citric Acid

Citric acid is another household item that works well at removing rust. If you don’t have it in your home, you can find it in some supermarkets and health food stores.

Keep in mind that citric acid can also remove paint and other surface coatings. And thus, you need to be careful not to compromise the integrity of coatings and surfaces when soaking rusted metal objects with citric acid.


  • Bowl
  • Hot water (2 cups)
  • Citric acid (2 to 3 tablespoons)
  • Brush, steel wool, or scouring pad


  1. Add 3 tablespoons of hot water to a bowl.
  2. Soak a rusted metal object in a bowl and let it sit overnight.
  3. The next day, scrub off the remaining rust.
  4. Rinse and dry the metal object.

5.Lemon and Salt

lemon and salt to remove rust in metal

This method combines the abrasiveness of salt and the acidity of lemon. It is a great combination that can tackle rust spots in small objects. You can use lemon juice and salt as a rust remover in smaller objects like kitchen knives with less stubborn rust stains.


  • Lemon
  • Salt
  • Wire brush or steel wool
  • Knife


  1. Coat a generous amount of salt over rusted areas in a metal object.
  2. Slice the lemon in half with a knife.
  3. Squeeze lemon juice over the salt layer.
  4. Let the mixture sit for a couple of hours to dissolve rust.
  5. Use the lemon rind to scrub away the remaining rust. For stubborn rust spots, use a wire brush or a ball of steel wool.
  6. Rinse off rust residue, lemon juice, and salt.
  7. Pat dry.

6.Removing Rust from Painted Metal

Metals with paint finish can get rusty. Rust can develop on the painted surfaces of your kitchen pan or your car. Here’s how you can remove rust from painted metals.


  1. In a bowl or container, mix:
  • 2 tablespoons of lime or lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of vinegar
  • ½ cup of baking soda
  1. Mix the ingredients until the mixture turns into a paste.
  2. Use a toothbrush or cloth to coat rusty areas with the paste.
  3. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Rub the paste in a firm, circular motion and rust off with a toothbrush.
  5. Repeat the process if necessary.
  6. Rinse and dry

Ways to Remove Rust from Metal Surfaces using Chemicals and Industrial Tools

Sometimes, removing rust with home remedies just won’t cut it. You’ll need chemicals and tools for heavily rusted areas.

1.Chemical Rust Remover

When elbow grease and home remedies fail in getting rid of rust, a chemical or commercial rust remover can be a great option. Commercial rust removers use various kinds of chemicals such as:

  • Acids
  • Petroleum-based solvents and
  • Sodium hydrosulfite

Soaking is the best way to get rid of rust if you don’t want to have scratch marks on a metal surface caused by scouring pads. You can also use products that allow you to spray chemicals for household cleanup and on rust stains that aren’t too deep.

But keep in mind that acids in rust removers emit harmful chemical fumes. And, thus make sure to use rust removal products in well-ventilated areas or outdoors. You should also wear protective gear such as:

  • Goggles
  • Face mask or respirator and
  • Rubber gloves

2.Use Buff Wheels

buff wheels to remove rust

This is a quick and fuss-free method that you can use on any rusty metal object. But since this method involves using a Dremel or a rotary tool, you might want to put on your protective gear.


  1. Attach the Brown or coarse buff wheel onto the rotary tool.
  2. Set the speed to approximately 7,000 rpm.
  3. Move the spinning buff wheel across the metal until the rust spots are gone.
  4. If you want to bring a metal item to its original luster, you can use the Balck or medium buff wheel for a pre-polish. And then use the Red buff wheel for a final polish.

The disadvantage of this technique is that reaching nooks and crannies are next to impossible, hence, limited in ability to clear rust from metals.

3.Naval Jelly

If you want to get rid of rust from large objects, then you should try a commercial rust dissolver like the Naval Jelly. It is a heavy-duty solution that uses strong chemicals to remove the rust from large objects with thick metals.

To apply, paint or spray the Naval Jelly solution on heavily rusted areas. Wait for the rust to dissolve, which may take between 5 to 10 minutes. Keep in mind that this solution is highly corrosive. Do not use it on thin metal or stainless steel.


media blasting on old truck before and after pictures how to get rust off metal

Before & After

Sandblasting or 5% abrasive blasting is the method of using compressed air to spray abrasive materials against a surface. This method is excellent at removing contaminants from a metal object.

It is an ideal rust removal method for large objects around your property such as:

  • Iron railings
  • Patio furniture
  • Barbecue grills
  • Lamp posts
  • Lawnmowers
  • Bikes, etc.

Prevent Rust from Coming Back

Taking preventative measures is the best way to prevent rust on a metal surface in the first place. Moisture can cause metals to get rusty. If you want all your metal items rust-free, you need to make sure they are always clean and dry.

To prevent rust from coming back, clean a rusty area and apply a metal primer on it. And then, follow up with at least two coats of paint.

Always wash and clean your tools and kitchen utensils after use. Avoid putting knives and other utensils in the dishwasher, and also don’t let them sit in the sink.

Let the Pros Remove Rust from Metal for Best Results

There are easy ways to remove rust from small metal objects. But for large objects with heavy rusting and those with tough-to-reach areas, you’ll need highly-trained experts to do the work for you. Sandblasting can get the rust off metal in no time, whether it has paint or not. The best part of it is it gets to do the job evenly down to the nooks and crannies of your rusty metal. This is something others cannot do.

Sandblasting can bring back the original luster of any rusted objects around your property in no time.

prepare car surface with sandblasting oklahoma and tx

Before & After

OnsiteMB provides sandblasting services in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Dallas Fort Worth North Texas, and everywhere in-between. We regularly operate in Oklahoma City, OK, and Greenville, TX, but travels throughout the region to your site.

(North to Tulsa, Stillwater, and Enid. South to Allen, Arlington, Bedford, Burleson, Coppell, Denison, Denton, Euless, Frisco, Garland, Grapevine, Hurst, Irving, Lewisville, Mesquite, McKinney, Plano, Richardson, Rockwall, and Sherman.)

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