How To Remove Rust From Metal Or Stainless Steel

If your metal objects have become rusty, sometimes it’s not as simple as throwing them away or replacing them. In the first instance, if you want to save your pennies or even take care of the environment, it’s time to clean the rust from metal possessions. So, how do you clean rust off metal? What removes rust? From using DIY rust remover home ingredients, acids, or WD-40, find our guide below for the best rust removal methods below:

  1. Using WD-40 As A Rust Stain Remover Spray

Did you know that WD-40 Multi-Use-Product can be used as a rust remover spray? Simply spray the item with WD-40 and scrub it with a clean wire brush. Just test a small area first to ensure this method doesn’t cause any damage. In order to prevent the rust from coming back, you can simply apply WD-40 and protect your metal items after use. What’s more, you can also use WD-40 Specialist Penetrant as a rust treatment for metal. It is designed to penetrate rust and grime for easier removal. Now, go grab that trusted blue and red can – it’s a game-changer!

  1. Scrape off Rust Stains

One option is to simply scrape off the unwanted rust using tools that have abrasive surfaces. This involves a lot of effort and hard work, but it is possible to remove it this way. There are a number of household objects you can use for this such as screwdrivers, steel wool, etc. You can use any metal tool for the job, but you would need to use fine-grain sandpaper afterwards to remove any scratch marks.

Alternatively, you can go to a hardware store and rent some tools. If you need to remove rust from larger surfaces, it is best to use an electric rust remover, such as an electric sander. You should always start with the area that has the roughest grain and gradually move to the less rusty metal areas. This way the roughness of the object is minimized.

  1. Chemical Rust Removers To Clean Rust

Chemical rust removers are usually made using oxalic or phosphoric acid and therefore are hazardous for the skin. Make sure that you take all necessary precautions before using a chemical remover to remove rust from a metallic object. Carefully read and use the product according to the directions provided as the usage can differ from product to product.

Keep in mind that these chemicals need to be applied for several hours and require you to scrub afterwards, so be prepared for a lot of work. You also need to be aware that chemical rust removers are usually expensive and only applicable for smaller objects. Find our top picks for chemical rust removal solutions below:

Rust Converting Chemical Method:

 You could buy a rust converter which prevents the rust from reacting further with the metal. Rust converters are similar to spray paints and serve the function of a primer for a paint layer on the surface. This is effective for preventing the rust from spreading further, but it does not help in completely removing rust from a metal object. You should only use rust converters if you intend to paint the surface of the metal.

Citric Acid Rust Remover Method:

 Citric acid (usually found in a powered box format) is an effective chemical to use for removing rust and can be purchased from a nearby store. Put the powdered citric acid in a container made of plastic and add some hot water. Add the objects into the rust removing soak that can clean off rust to restore tools, equipment, and surfaces back to bare metal. Make sure it’s enough to completely cover the metal object. Leave it for the night and rinse in the morning. Dry with a clean cloth afterward.

Oxalic Acid Rust Removal Method:

You can also use oxalic acid to remove rust. Since this is a strong chemical agent, ensure that you have taken protective measures prior to use. Be sure that you are wearing protective clothing, goggles and rubber gloves – and make sure that you do not inhale the acidic fumes. Create a diluted mixture of water and oxalic acid (25ml acid and 250ml water). Soak the object in this mixture for around 20 minutes or you can also wipe the object with a brass brush or cloth. Once complete and the rust is removed, ensure you wash the item thoroughly and subsequently dry it.

  1. Using Home Ingredients For Removing Rust

Don’t have the time to go to the shops? Not a problem – there are several household items you can turn into a homemade rust stain remover; from mildly acidic fluid-like white vinegar to aluminium foil. Find our top picks of DIY rust removers below:

Remove Rust With White Vinegar Treatment

You can use white vinegar for effective rust removal. The rust reacts with the vinegar and later dissolves. Simply soak the rusty metal object in white vinegar for a couple of hours and then just wipe to remove the rust. If the object is too large, simply pour white vinegar evenly over the surface of the object and give it some time to settle. Alternatively, you can also use a cloth soaked with white vinegar to wipe the object. Another solution to clean rust is to use a piece of aluminium foil dipped in vinegar to wipe the rust off the object. Using regular vinegar is also an option, however, it will take more time to remove the rust. Try soaking the object in regular vinegar for 24 hours; this will lessen the amount of scrubbing that would be necessary.

Lime & Salt or Lemon Method For Treating Rusty Metal:

Lime and salt are another successful solution to help remove rust from metal items. Simply Sprinkle some salt over the area of the object that has rusted to ensure that it is completely covered. After, squeeze lime all over it. Make sure you squeeze as much juice as you can and then leave it for about 3-4 hours before you scrub it off. It helps to use the left-over skin for scrubbing the resulting mixture. It is powerful enough to clean rust off metal without causing any damage. A lemon, in replacement of the lime, can also be used in the same way.

Baking Soda Method To Get Rid Of Rust:

Using baking soda and water creates a thick paste that is easily spread over the metal as a rust cleaner. Give it some time to set and then scrub it off. Use a toothbrush to scrub the paste off and then wash it with water.  This mixture can be diluted according to your preference. There is no exact specification for the amounts to be used.

Treat Rust With Dish Soap & A Potato:

Dish soap and potato are also valuable household items when it comes to cleaning rust. Cut a potato into two pieces and apply dish soap on the cut end. This will ensure that there is a chemical reaction between the end and rust, which will make it easy to wipe off.

Put the potato on the surface of the metal object and let it stay for a couple of hours. If you need to apply again, simply cut the used end off and put dishwashing soap on the fresh end. After that, place it again on the metal surface for longer.

So, there you have it – nine effective methods to remove rust stains from metal. From home ingredients such as lemons and limes to your trusted household lubricant, WD-40 – there is a process to suit everyone. Which rust remover is the best? That’s up to you. It’s important to note, any method that you take will involve time and patience, as it is a tedious task. But with a little effort, you can easily clean it off of several metallic surfaces.

Now you know how to clean rust, why not read our guide on how to remove rust from a bike, how to remove rust from a car, or how to prevent rust in the first place. Want to find more tips and tricks? Discover more uses for WD-40 or how to loosen stuck and seized bolts.


The uses shown and described for WD-40 Multi-Use Product were provided to WD-40 Company by the users themselves. These uses haven’t been tested by WD-40 Company and do not constitute a recommendation of suggestion for use by WD-40 Company. Common sense should be exercised whenever using WD-40 Company products. Always follow the instructions and take heed of any warnings printed on the packaging.

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