How to Remove Rust from Tools With Household Supplies

Has rust taken over your tools? You may be able to salvage them with items from home. 

As you’re getting ready to tackle that gardening project or home repair, you discover that some of your prized tools have since accumulated some rust. Before you go to huck them in the trash or bust out the heavy-duty rust-busting chemicals, there are a few safer avenues. Yep, you likely have the ingredients for helping remove rust right under your sink! 

White Vinegar

Whether you need to add some tang to a marinade or clean your garden shears, white vinegar is your friend. While the foot-scented liquid won’t strip rust off of your wrenches an industrial chemical, it can make the manual process a little bit easier. 

  1. Fill a small container or bucket with enough white vinegar deep enough to submerge the rusted tool.
  2. Toss in any rust-afflicted tool to soak for a few hours.
  3. After you’re done watching Ben-Hur, use some steel wool, crumpled foil, wire brush, or sandpaper to remove the rust. 

Salt & Lime Juice

If your rusty tools put you in the mood for a margarita, the ingredients to remedy one while taking care of the other may be in the same section of your fridge. 

  1. Apply the salt to the rusted parts of your tools.
  2. Gently pour the lime juice on the salted areas—enough to get the salt wet with juice, but not wash it off.
  3. Let this mixture sit for several hours. This may be a decent time to use the same ingredients to make yourself a margarita with salt on the rim of the glass. 
  4. After you’ve watched Dances With Wolves, put your margarita glasses in the sink and scrub the rust from your tools using steel wool, crumpled foil, a wire brush, or sandpaper. 

Baking Soda Paste

If you’re looking for “baking soda paste” at the store, you won’t find it. However, it’s pretty easy to make yourself. 

  1. Pour some baking soda into a bowl or container—enough where that could be applied to your rust-covered tools if needed. 
  2. Pour in just a bit of water into the baking soda and mix until its a sticky paste—much like peanut butter as you near to the end of the jar. 
  3. Apply the paste to the rust-covered sections of your tools for a few hours. 
  4. After you’ve watched Gone With the Wind, return, brush the baking soda paste off of the tools, and then use a piece of steel wool, a wire brush, some foil, or sandpaper to remove the rust from the metal sections of your tools.

Coca Cola & Foil

America’s favorite soft drink is also one of the country’s favorite heavy-duty cleaners. The reason this works so well on everything from car bumpers to toilet bowls is due to its phosphoric acid content. While it remains safe to drink (unless you have qualms with soft drinks), it’s also robust enough to dissolve stains and rust from all sorts of surfaces. 

  1. Much like white vinegar, you’re going to want to give your tools a soak—this time in delicious Coca Cola. 
  2. Let the tools soak in the Coca Cola for anywhere from a few hours to a few days. 
  3. This solution is intended to dissolve rust rather than simply loosen it up for further manual removal.
  4. After you’re done finished with a few jack-and-cokes and the entire Lord of the Rings franchise, you should be able to rinse the rust and Coke from your tools. 


We at DT Wreck-It Specialized Demolition Services in Tulsa, OK have not personally tested any of these rust-removal methods. (We pride ourselves at keeping our tools rust-free through regular preventative maintenance, but that’s by no means a judgment call on you—we’re demolition professionals, after all). However, in the spirit of safety, we thought we’d recommend these home remedies for rusty tools before recommending more dangerous chemicals and solutions. Remember to stay safe!