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Get Rid of Rust With Potatoes? 6 Remedies That Work

Is rust taking over? Check out these natural remedies to get rid of rust from your tools and other household items—no harsh chemicals!

Rust: you find it on your bike handles, your tools, your pipes, and your car, especially after a rainy fall or snowy winter. Is there anything that can be done to get rid of it? Yes!

What is Rust?

Rust occurs when metal faces prolonged contact with water, and combines with oxygen in a process called oxidation. The process corrodes the metal, dissolving it into the chalky reddish-brown substance known as rust.

The best way to deal with rust is to prevent it by keeping metal surfaces dry. Of course, this is not always possible. You could buy rust removal products containing toxic chemicals that are both bad for the environment and dangerous to keep around young children and pets. But there are many safer solutions, and you probably already have everything you need for them at home. Here are six safe and easy rust removing tricks to get you started.

6 Easy Ways To Remove Rust

  1. Scrub. A good place to begin is simply scrubbing the rusty surface with steel wool, sandpaper, a wire brush, or even a crumpled up ball of tin foil. If the metal hasn’t rusted too deeply, a little elbow grease will go a long way. But even if the rust is deep, it’s a good idea to eliminate outer flakes of rust first, before using other methods.
  2. White vinegar. For more stubborn rust, try using white vinegar. The acetic acid in this common household product is acidic enough to dissolve rust. You can soak smaller things like earrings, wipe it onto a surface with an old cloth, or just pour it directly over rust spots or bolts and screws that have rusted together. Be sure to rinse items thoroughly after the rust has dissolved, since vinegar left on the metal could damage the surface.
  3. Baking soda is great for cleaning lots of household messes, but have you ever tried it on rust? Make a paste by mixing it with water, making sure it is thick enough to stick to the rusted surface. Let it sit for a while and then scrub it off with steel wool or a wire brush. You may have to repeat this process a few times.
  4. Spuds to the rust rescue. Have an extra potato lying around? You can use a slice of it to scrub rusted surfaces—this works especially well for knife blades, pots, and pans. Sprinkle a little salt or baking soda onto the potato and then rub it over the rust spot, or just insert the knife into a potato and let it sit. The oxalic acid in the potato helps to dissolve the rust.
  5. Lemon juice can also dissolve rust–sprinkle some coarse salt onto the rust, then add lemon juice. Don’t let it sit too long, or it might cause damage. Wipe off the juice and rinse. Try mixing lemon juice with a little vinegar for an extra strong solution. Not only will you be rust-free, but whatever you are cleaning will smell like citrus!
  6. Does cola really remove rust? If you’ve ever dropped a penny in a glass of Coke, you were probably impressed (or alarmed) that the penny came out clean. Cola and other soft drinks contain high levels of phosphoric acid (a common ingredient in store-bought rust removal products) and can be used for rusted nuts and bolts or even corroded battery terminals. However, it can be quite a challenge to clean up since it is so sticky, so you may want to try a different method first.

Once you’ve finished, rinse and dry all surfaces completely—if you leave items wet, they’ll just rust again! You may want to prime and repaint things like bicycles, lawn furniture, or any surface that will face continuous exposure to wet weather. Also be sure to check bikes (especially the chains) for any damage deep rust might have caused before you start using them again.

After graduating from Bates College in 2009, Kristen attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine. She now lives in Western Massachusetts where she works at Orion magazine."

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Dawn

I Purchased a golf bag at a thrift store and the screws on the golf bag are rusted. How can I get the rest off without damaging the golf bag itself

MARILYN

How can I best remove rust that has shown up under our stainless steel kitchen sink?

Angelique Doudnikova

Lemon Juice and Vinegar and scrubbing hard with a toothbrush (all I have available right now) is actually working on rusty vintage screws for an early 1970’s lucite table base I have!!! Hard finger work though… persistence and determination is key!

Michael Ol

Just used coke , white vinegar and baking g soda on an old birdbath …..make sure you do outdoors and watch out as this will foam over and smoke a little bit o I’m sure the fumes are not good for you I’ll scrub it next!

Richard

Power Washing is the best way to get rust off metal.

Sylvia

Hi , I have rust on my aluminium greenhouse caused by weed &moss killer getting wet , how can I neutralise this , so I can spray the metal .

Cherri

Vinegar?I’m a journeyman house painter and was taught when we would have new galvanized gutters wipe them down with vinegar and don’t wash. Realizing that as it got the shiney film off the gutter that the now full surface was ready for my paint to adhere to it. Hope this helps ,

Darla

I have a tub full of nails of all sizes but all 9f them are rusted. Is there anyway I can get the rust off without having to clean them one at a time.

Stanley Koziol

soak them in white vinegar then strain and rinse with clear water

Angelique Doudnikova

I soaked my rusty screws in white vinegar and it works – though I had to scrub them one at a time..

John K

Rusty tools can be placed in boiling water. Use a old stainless steel pot. Watch the red rust (hematite) turn into black magnetite. Which does not corrode and is tougher and harder than chrome plating. May take more than boiling. But works great. Ask a old time knife maker about the process for carbon blades

marie hollis

I have a huge old vise that is rusted and the handle will not turn is there in way to salvage it

cb

how or what can i use to clean rust out of a honda fourtrax gas tank without messing it up

Rob

First remove the tank and drain it. Then plug all the holes where the lines attach. Next fill the tank with cola but leave some room at the top for air. Then put the cap on and let it sit overnight. Then rise well with water then isopropal. Reinstall the tank and fill with fuel. I was an aircaft mechanic as well as a bike mechanic.

Roland Walther

Metal prep

Derek

I put my gas tank in a cement mixer with small rocks and white vinegar. Turn it on and watch it spin clean. Be sure to rinse thouroughly and promptly coat with a gas tank liner paint as it will re-rust pretty quick. Good luck cobba.

Dana

Hi. I just received a 20 year old brass pepper mill from Greece. But the grinding mechanism (steel) has some rust in the grooves where the pepper will be ground. Is there anything I can soak it in the completely remove the rust? The grooves are too thin and deep to get into with anything like steel wool. I tried using q-tips soaked in isopropyl rubbing alcohol and they quickly become dirty, but the rust remains. Thank you.

Patricia Dilgard

Soak it in white vinegar

james shouse

i have some lawnmower pulleys that have rusted pitted spots down inside the pulley where the mower belt wraps around. the pulleys shred my belt up very fast. what can i use to get them smooth again? please help

Matthew polglaze

I have a pair of KC head lights and the back of them are starting to get a little rusty what would be the best way to get of that rust?

Horton hears a who

If it’s just starting use mineral spirits and steel wool it tends to do less damage than wire brush. When done top it with a polish wax or lacquer spray to prevent it from returning.

Earl Fox

My problem is my two story back porch which I tried scraping and using a brushes and primer . But no use because of the salt and calcium chloride for the snow removal. Any suggestions ?

Keller

I neglected to mention that the top and lower shelf are made of see-through, diamond-cut steel (I think), which is beautiful but it’s hard to get into the spaces around the small diamond holes.

Keller

I have a metal stand with a top and one lower shelf. It’s old but was in great shape until my un-named spouse left it on our deck and it was exposed to whatever weather for a whole summer. It’s rusty and I want to get as much rust off as possible before spraying it with a white Rustoleum primer followed by a couple of coats of spray Rustoleum glossy gold, which should return it to its prior beauty.

My spouse has been using a steel brush and also some sandpaper to get the rust off. would it be easier to use one of the vinegar or backing powder/vinegar methods? I don’t want to mess this lovely piece of furniture up.

Priscilla crigger

I am going to try this in utensils !

Michael

Have a LARGE item you want to remove rust from? Like a fuel tank, lots of metal pipe?

Look into electrolysis, it’s a process of removing rust using electric current. Google “electrolysis diy” and you’ll find many examples.

God Bless

Nicole

Is it okay to use the vinegar and baking soda with lemon juice on the head of the motor to clean off rust. It did great just want to make sure it does no damage.

Robin Sauls

If you want a long lasting rust remover-you soak in a solution of 1 part, or Molasses, per 3 part water. soak until rust can be wiped away, and clean the product. Can be used many times-then when needed will not hurt the ground, nor animals when dumped.

Sue Hutchings

To prevent rust in the first place, spray and wipe down with WD40 before storing. They should make industrial sized cans of it for car preservation.

Kenneth Moore

They do make it in large sizes. You can buy it by the gallon or 55 gallon drum.

C J Lengel

After the rust is removed from tools, and other metal objects, an application of
mineral oil will retard rust on them.

Diana Wakefield

To deter rust from occurring in the first place. Shovels, hoes, etc fill large bucket 3/4 full of sand and keep your gardening tools in that in a tool shed or garage. Toolboxes- keep pieces of chalk in the drawers changing it monthly, this will help keep moisture down.

Heather

The salt and lemon will work on fabric and possibly carpet but I’ve never tried it on carpet. If you do you need to make sure you get it all up once it’s done working or it could turn the spot yellow. I usually use sunlight to boost the effectiveness. Old trick I learned from a grandmother.

Arthur N. Davis

I need help! We have the same problem that Donna Johnson #13 had, rust caused by metal tips on a piano stool. What can I use to remove this rust stain from my carpet?

interisting

i never had this problem till i moved from ct to fla. we would wipe which ever tool we used with a oil cloth before putting it away i cant seem to keep the rust from comeing back bens detaling and restiortion herando fla

R Lowry

To Donna: I have used vinegar and baking soda on carpet to clean out pet stains. If you put the vinegar down first, it bubbles up when you pour the baking soda on top. Let dry and vacuum. Perhaps this would also work on rust on carpets as both products are mentioned in the writeup.

jlee629

Toilet bowl cleaner works WONDERFULLY on alot of stuff. Outside.

DOROTHY FREI

need to get rust off the carpet after removing something

Denise

I have a covered arena with 12 posts about 8″ in diameter x 15′ tall and hundreds of feet of rusted pipe fencing. I need it all painted in time for a wedding, but what is the easiest, most cost effective way to remove rust from such a large area? I don’t have the man power to grind or sand it, so I need to spray it with something probably. Any ideas?

Ann

Maybe spray it with white vinegar?

ARMANDO NAVA

i have a big , big, problem with a fuel tank and need a fast remedy ,inside is full of rust and to buy a new thank this big will cost me 5 t grand , that’s a lot of money ,i wonder if there is something anybody may know how to clean all that rust and use it that fuel tank again , i would really appreciate any advise , thanks

Sean Sewell

I like reading all this my first time here I have a problem my good quality tools now have scale and rust on them I need ideas please
Sean

Sean Sewell

This seems to be the best site for rust removal as some of my tools have scale and rust on them need ideas White Vinegar?
Sean Sewell

Joe Hogan

We have had exactly the same problem as Donna Johnson.Did she get any results following her email with regard to rust on her carpet?
Thank you
J H

dylan coffey

This info was verry helpfull

Vicki Ferguson

Bar Keepers Friend sold with the cleansers is great for rust or hard water spots on tubs, sinks boats and other items. Mix with water and make a paste leave overnight. Hard wate rings on toilets you have to flush and turn the water off so it does not fill to water line. mix up paste let sit and scrub later.

Adrea

If you put a few dryer sheets in to the toilet bowl and scrub with toilet bowl brush you’d be amazed at how clean it gets!

Donna Johnson

How do you remove rust from carpet? There was a chair sitting for a long time on the carpet and it had metal tips. Now the house is for sale and we’re trying to remove the rust. I hope you can help me. Thanks!

Kay

Have a fiberglass shower that has rust in it.How do u get it off? plz let me know asap ty Kay

Jerry Snow

Very interesting as well as informative article. I use white vinegar to remove the mill scale on the metal for my candle holders, but was not aware of it’s rust dissolving abilities. The “Farmer’s Almanac” is always an educational experience.

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