How to Remove Rust
Safely and Naturally
Learning how to remove rust is so simple you might just kick yourself for any old rusty tool or toy that you once threw away.
Learning what causes rust may be the first step, though. Rust is the actual metal itself reacting with oxygen from moisture (such as rain, humidity, etc).
It's important to know that rust is NOT simply a funky substance ON your metal; it is the metal itself oxidizing, breaking down. It's important to know this because when removing rust you are actually removing some of the metal itself (unless of course you're removing it from something that doesn't rust, like fabric). This means it's important to prevent rust, not just remove it, or else you'll be wearing down your item over time.
In order to safely remove rust you'll need an acidic substance, such as those listed below.
How to Remove Rust From Most Surfaces
I have a bad habit of leaving my non-disposable safety razor in the shower. Forgetting to dry it off causes it to rust, not exactly something you want to be shaving with. Before I switched to a rust-proof razor, I had to find a way to remove the rust that would occur between the blade and the handle.
I use this technique to remove rust from my razor, as well as all other metals, fabric, and most other surfaces.
You will need:
- A whole lemon or white vinegar (or something equally acidic)
- An old toothbrush (I like to wrap the handle of these old toothbrushes in tape so I don't get it confused with our personal toothbrushes!)
- (Very persistent rust stains on fabric or carpet may require diluted ammonia, described below. This is rare, in my experience.)
- Start by rinsing the area to remove as much rust as possible. (Don't worry about soap, cleaners, etc and never use harsh chemicals, such as dangerous bleach.)
- If possible, I recommend soaking the rusted area for at least 30 seconds in the lemon juice or vinegar. You can use a small bowl for smaller items, spray it on with a spray bottle, or if you can't soak it because it's too big (like a bike), you might consider saturating a rag and placing it over the area.
- If you're using a lemon, cut it in half and sprinkle salt liberally over the inside. Use this to scrub at the area. The acidic and abrasive ingredients will clean the rust easily.
- If you're using white vinegar, use your toothbrush to scrub the area with a paste made from the vinegar and sea salt.
- Depending on what you're removing rust from you may need to blot, rinse, and repeat the steps on how to remove rust. Be sure you don't leave any rust behind on metals, as it can spread.
- For really stubborn rust, you may need to resort to applying a diluted mixture of ammonia (1 tsp per cup of warm water) and allowing the area to soak. Rinse and repeat the steps on how to remove rust if needed.
- For carpets, upholstery, etc using a wet/dry vacuum can help to pick up any extra moisture. Be sure to not place any fabrics in the dryer unless you are sure all the rest is removed.
This was also sent by one of the gorgeous SBS readers!
Hey! I love this site. Just wanted to mention about the natural rust remover for carpets. We had our Christmas tree fall over (a few times) and our tree stand had rusted so we had a rust stain on our carpet about 2 feet wide. I mixed baking soda and water into a paste and rubbed it into the stain generously. Let dry, loosened with edge of spoon, and vacuumed. Spot was gone. I was very happy. Keep up the good work.
How to Prevent Rust In The First Place
For most household purposes, how to prevent rust boils down to controlling moisture. Drying things off properly, fixing any leaks, ventilating areas, and investing in a dehumidifier solves a lot of problems.
In some cases, extra steps may need to be taken. Cleaning and waxing your vehicle (especially if you live near the ocean or drive over salt-treated snowy roads), covering vehicles or boats, slightly oiling tools (I'm thinking linseed oil would be the safest route over many of the commercial rust inhibitors), and so on, all help to keep water and oxygen from reacting with the metal by creating a protective barrier.
And then, of course, simply keeping things clean and put away, and keeping metals from fabrics, carpets, upholstery, etc will all help to prevent rust.