How to Clean Rusty Garden Tools?

How to Clean Rusty Garden Tools

Do you have any idea of how rust can damage your garden tools? Rust and the garden tools do not go hand in hand. It is a big disaster for garden tools. How do you clean these tools? What precautionary measures do you take to ensure that your garden tools do not get rust? In this article, I am going to cover extensively on all the mitigation measures to keep your tools safe. I am also going to explain to you how to clean rusty garden tools. Go through this article for more information.

How do garden tools get rust?

Rust is formed when iron and oxygen react in the presence of moisture or water in the air. It is, therefore, formed as a reaction of various factors in the environment. If you leave a garden tool outside overnight, for example, it will get rust. The intensity might not be high if you leave it out for a single night. However, if you leave it out, say for example a week, the rust will be concentrated. In this case, you will need to clean it using some advanced methods. I am going to explain it in the subsequent paragraphs.

What is the effect of rust on the garden tools?

  • Rust corrodes any metal that is has attacked.
  • It causes a change in the color of the object.
  • Sharp objects turn out to be too dull.
  • It makes the objects weak. This is because it replaces the metal’s strong ions with some weak powder.
  • Rust shortens the lifespan of metal.
  • It makes the tool unhealthy to handle. If such a tool cuts you, then you will have a lot of poison in the body.

Rust is not good, not only for the garden tools but for every other type of tool.

How does one clean rusty garden tool?

Once your garden tools have been attacked by rust, you have to take decisive action and clean them before losing it. The procedure of cleaning is as explained below:

» Prevention.

The first step to having it clean is by exercising prevention. This implies that you have to clean them regularly even when rust has not attacked it. You also have to keep the tools in a closed, dry place out of water and moisture. This will prevent your tools from being attacked.

What if rust has attacked?

In this case, you will have to clean the tools using some chemicals.

» Soak the rusty tool in a vinegar solution.

Prepare vinegar solution and drop in the rusty garden tools. Do not prepare a concentrated solution, rather make it slightly weak. A strong vinegar solution may corrode your tools even more. The vinegar solution will weaken the bonds of the rust, and make them easy to remove when cleaning. Let the tools settle in the solution for 24 hours. When this period lapses, remove the tools from the solution and wipe with a clean towel. You can proceed to clean the towel using steel wool or a scrubber.

If your garden tool had been heavily attacked, then you will need to soak them a second time in a vinegar solution. This will help in removing the second and the subsequent layers of the rust. After 24 hours, you will need to remove it from the solution, wipe it dry and clean it using steel wool.

» Soak it in cola or strong black tea.

This solution is also good at removing the rust. After preparing the solution, you will need to drop in the tools and let it settle for some time. When the period lapses, remove the tools from the solution and wipe them dry. You can then proceed to clean it using a scrubber or steel wool. This solution might not be as effective as that of vinegar and citric acid, but it still works well. It can be used as an alternative where no other solution can be found.

»  Soak the tools in citric acid.

You will need to prepare a citric solution that is not very concentrated. The amount of citric in the solution should be 3% only. Drop your tools in and let them soak for 24 hours. This will be able to weaken the rust, hence making it easy to clean. When 24 hours lapses, you will remove the tools from the solution and wipe it dry. You will then use steel wool or a scrubber to remove the rust. If rust becomes stubborn, you will need to put it back in a fresh solution and leave for a day. Repeat the same process until all the rust has been removed. Make sure that you clean the residue with a lot of water immediately after soaking. Citric acid is strong and if it is not fully washed away, it may end up corroding the tool.

Any of the above methods will leave your garden tools free of rust. It is now up to you to ensure that rust does not attack the tools.

What is the next step after removing the rust?

Once you are done with cleaning the tools, you should sharpen it. The essence is to have it ready for use next time. Rust makes the tools to be blunt. They also become dull when you soak in solutions and when you scrub them while cleaning.

What is the fastest way to remove rust from the garden tools?

A vinegar solution is always a preferred agent in removing the rust. It is too strong for the rust. Other agents can still remove the rust, albeit at a slow speed. Vinegar is not harmful to the tool as well. As compared to citric acid, vinegar does not corrode the garden tools. The only advice that comes with this is that you should prepare a weak solution. A strong solution may have the same effects as that of citric acid.

Can water remove rust?

It is a little bit difficult to remove rust from garden tools by using water only. Rust is a chemical reaction hence it needs a chemical solution to deal with it. Water can be useful only after the tool has been soaked in a strong solution. It can be used for rinsing when all the rust has been eliminated.

Water can, however, become effective when the rust has not become concentrated. In the initial stages, rust might not have taken root in the tool, hence you can just use water and steel wool to clean it off.


To remove rust from the garden tool, you will need to soak it in a chemical solution. This is to weaken the rust particles before scrubbing it out using steel wire. You should, however, try to minimize having your tools getting rust by keeping it in a clean and dry place out of water and moisture. Remember to sharpen your garden tool after cleaning it.

Edward D. Williams

I'm Edward. I'm here to share my experience in cutting tools, different saw and accessories.

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