How can I Remove Rust from Metal?

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  • Originally Written By: Norma Jean Howland
  • Revised By: A. Joseph
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 15 May 2020
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If you need to remove rust from metal, there are many commercial products available. Most of them are highly toxic and rely on some form of acid — either phosphoric or oxalic — to do the job. If you use them, make sure to wear rubber gloves and carefully follow all of the instructions and precautions that are provided by the manufacturer. This will remove the rust and protect you from the toxic chemicals. If you would rather avoid toxic chemicals, there are several common household items that can safely remove rust from metal, including white vinegar, baking soda, sandpaper and steel wool.


White vinegar can often work well for small items, such as earrings. Just pour a little vinegar into a glass, and let the items have a good soak. After you see that the rust has dissolved, just rinse off the jewelry, and dry it with a cloth.

Vinegar can also be used on bigger items. Either pour it directly onto the item, or spread it with a cloth. When the rust is dissolved, just wipe it off, rinse the item, then dry it if necessary.

Baking Soda

Using baking soda is another way to remove rust from metal. You can make a paste by mixing baking soda and water. Make sure that the solution is pasty enough to adhere to the surface, then spread it onto the metal and let it sit. After the rust is loose, you can scrub it off. If the rust stains are very deep, removing them might require additional applications of the paste. Baking soda paste also can be used in a variety of other ways around the house, and it is a good substitute for many toxic household cleaners.

Coarse Materials

If you want to remove rust from metal and don't mind a little bit of hard work, you can try to remove it manually with sandpaper or another coarse item, such as steel wool. This might take a while, though. If the rust is widespread, it might take several attempts to get down to the clean metal.

Preventing Rust

Of course, it is best to not let your metals get rusty at all. Keeping your metals as dry as possible helps prevent rust because water is what sets the stage for rust to appear. Prevention isn't always possible, however, especially if you where there is a lot of humidity, so it’s a good idea to attack rust right away, before it starts eating away at the metal. Remember, the longer that rust is left untreated, the harder it is to remove and the more severe the damage.

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Discuss this Article

Post 35

To anon321812: "How can I remove rust from my rosary?"

Your best bet would be to get new findings (i.e., loops, jump rings). If the rust is on the decades or the Crucifix, you may want to see a jeweler.

Post 34

Use a wire brush.

Post 33

@post 26: Throw it in the trash.

Post 32

Using foil may sound 'too good to be true', but it really does a great job. It's fairly labor-intensive, so I wouldn't use it for a big project with a lot of area, or one with a ton of rust. Something with some minor rust spots is perfect for using aluminum foil. Just crinkle it into a ball and rub away.

I've also used it to remove some burned-on food from a stainless steel skillet. No distunguishable scratches since the foil is so soft.

Post 30

You can try using Innosoft B570. It is an organic cleaner and does not cause any side effects. I use that for rust removal from stainless steel appliances.

Post 29

I am sorry but the last post sounds too good to be true.

Post 28

Dampen the area to be cleaned with a bit of water and then rub down with aluminum foil. It works a treat on chrome, but is also good on painted areas as well. It doesn't damage the chrome or paintwork. Dry off with a soft cloth. There are loads of examples of this online. It's cheap and non toxic. --Tom

Post 26

How can I remove rust from my rosary?

Post 25

I just wanted everyone to know that there are other options for rust removal- rust911. It is a higher performing, lower cost alternative to others.

Post 21

The best way to get rid of rust on metal is use the nanoShell metal rust liquid.

Post 20

For white cotton fabric, make an aqueous paste with BarKeepers Friend Stainless Steel cleaner and water. Apply liberally with Q-tips. The brown stain will disappear.

Post 19

I used enviro-safe rust remover and got fabulous results. It was cheap and worked great. I used it on some bicycle parts. My bikes look new, it worked just as it said it would.

Post 17

Hello! Billy Mays here with the latest great product!

How many paid shills are leaving comments on internet boards?

Post 15

I have recently used Rust Off on my motorcycle chrome. This stuff works awesome specially if you have a part that can soak in it, wish it came in a paste though. i have yet to try Naval Jelly on the engine, which is aluminum or cast iron. Nothing else I've tried has worked on that yet, but I'll try the baking soda paste trick.

Post 14

I soaked the metal in vinegar for about 20 minutes and then scrubbed it with an S.O.S pad. Worked really well.

Post 13

Coke's (and other carbonated drinks') acidity comes from carbonic acid, formed by the CO2 used to carbonate drinks.

Moderator's reply: Thank you for visiting wiseGEEK! We deleted part of your post because it was a copy of something already on the Internet. Aside from potential copyright issues, we like to keep wiseGEEK discussion posts unique to benefit our readers. Please feel free to make another post in your own words.

Post 12

coke is acidic. Phosphoric acid, i think.

Post 11

We tried using a bottle of coke on some of our dental instruments as recommended by a theatre nurse. it worked like magic! No one has been able to give us the mechanism of action.

Post 10

I used another product to remove rust, Innosoft B570. It worked really awesome. all the rust disappeared like snow in hot sunbeams. Really fantastic.

Post 9

Try a nonhazardous rust remover like Esprit Performance rust remover. it comes in concentrate so it saves a lot on shipping costs. Plus you don't have to worry about acids. This won't remove metal.

Post 8

A word of caution: Although vinegar is a mild acid, it is still strong enough to dissolve some metals. Copper and nickel, for example, dissolve easily in vinegar. So make sure you don't remove the shiny nickel plating to reveal dull base metal beneath. The point applies to all acids form organic lemon juice to toxic super rust remover.

One other small remark is if you try both vinegar and baking soda to remove your rust, make sure you rinse the object in between, otherwise the two substances (acid and alkali) will cancel out each other's rust cleaning potential.

Post 7

I remember years ago when I saw someone soak a rusted lawn mower chain in something smelly like, gasoline or paint thinner. Then scoured it with steel wool and it came right off. Wish I could remember which one.

Post 6

Tried to use baking soda to remove rust from a patio table. Didn't work worth spit. Neither did vinegar. Although now I smell like a pickle. Toxic rust removers, here I come!

Post 4

works great.

Post 2

Brilliant! Love the URL too ("how-can-i-remove-rust-from-metal"). Almost exactly what I typed into Google.

Post 1

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Will remove stains from Hull of boats, upholstery, wood, copper, rims, brake dust, vehicle, fenders, fiberglass, sink, toilet, bathtub, clothing, cement, stainless steel, humidifier, fabric, concrete, grout, painted surfaces, body of carburetors, decks, chrome…Will also remove coffee stains, grape juice stain....and much much more. Its biodegradable, no smell, will not hurt skin, no fumes, no solvents, non-acid product, non-flammable, no scrubbing.

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Will also remove grease from cement and concrete, apply directly on dry surface, wait 5 mins, scrub with brush, may require more than one application.

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