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how to remove rust from metal

How to remove rust from metal? Let me count the ways:

  • 1. Make a paste using baking soda.
  • 2. Dip in a vinegar bath.
  • 3. Lime and salt or lemon and salt scrub.
  • 4. Rub with Naval Jelly rust dissolver.

The first three remedies are effective on moderate rust stains, and are made from items you probably have around the house. The last remedy is your final go-to product, a much stronger chemical to use only if the first three methods are ineffective on your rust.

how to remove rust using baking soda paste.

If you're not into chemicals and want to remove the rust (but not the paint), this less toxic yet effective abrasive paste can help.

  • Add water to dry baking soda until it has the texture of a paste thick enough for you to spread on the metal.
  • Allow the baking soda paste to sit on the rusted area of the metal for at least 30 minutes before scrubbing off with a toothbrush or other small brush. 

cleaning rust away in a vinegar bath.

Acidic vinegar is another effective tool for cleaning rust on items that are all steel and can be soaked without compromising the integrity of other surfaces.

  • Submerge the rusty item in white vinegar. Allow it to work its magic overnight.
  • Remove the item from the vinegar, and scrape away the rust using a metal brush or steel wool.

bust out the lime (or lemon) and salt.

No, it's not margarita time. (Yet.) Instead, use these simple staples to provide both the acid and the abrasion needed to remove stubborn rust.

  • Rinse the rusty area so that it is wet enough for salt to adhere.
  • Sprinkle salt liberally over the rusted area; allow to sit for at least two hours.
  • Use the lime or lemon rind to then scrub the salt into the rusty areas to remove.

how to clean corrosion that has resisted the above methods: bring on the naval jelly.

Still rusty? 

Naval jelly is a caustic, but safe and effective rust remover when used properly.Naval jelly is a caustic, but safe and effective rust remover when used properly.

It's time to break out the Naval Jelly, an old faithful of a product you'll find at home- and hardware stores online.

This innocuous-looking pink gel is a strong oxidation dissolver that has been around for more than 25 years.

It is the big gun in any rust remover arsenal, and is virtually guaranteed to do the trick on removing rust from metal surfaces. It is also a cleaning chemical that needs to be used with precautions in place.

  • First, don't use Naval Jelly in confined spaces. The fumes can be hazardous without proper ventilation.
  • Always don rubber or plastic protective gloves, and safety glasses or a full-face shield to protect your hands, face, and eyes when working with naval jelly.
  • Remove all loose dirt and rust from the metal with a wire brush prior to cleaning.
  • Brush on a liberal coating of Naval Jelly; let stand 15 minutes - but no longer than 15 minutes.
  • Rinse with water, inspect.
  • If any rust remains, repeat steps above as many times as needed to remove rust.

tips for keeping metal rust free:

  • To keep your newly refreshed metal looking sharp, apply a protective coat of liquid wax, the kind you'll find at automotive stores. 
  • Keep metal dry, and store in a cool dry place. 

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for the rust cleaning products and tools you'll need to get the job done.



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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.