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8 Ways Household Ingredients Can Be Used to Clean Rust Off Metal

8 Ways to Clean Rust Off Metal
Metals are prized for their hardness, strength, and durability. However, they get rusted easily whenever they get exposed to moisture. Rust can give a really rugged and ugly look to metals. However, it is possible to remove rust with the help of some commercial and homemade cleaners.
Chandramita Bora
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Rust is formed when a metal reacts with oxygen in the presence of moisture or water. Rust can ruin the look of your metal items. It is true that you can always buy a replacement and throw away the old rusted item, but this may not be a cost-effective option.

So, you can consider to remove the rust, and for this, you can opt for commercial products or some household items that can remove rust from metals quite effectively. The commercial cleaners are no doubt effective, but most of them contain some toxic substances. So, they should be applied in a well-ventilated room. You should also wear protective hand gloves while using such cleaners, and follow the instructions mentioned in the label of the product.
Removing Rust From Metals
The key to success in removing rust is prompt action. So, the moment you spot rust on your metal items, consider to remove it as soon as possible with the following products.
White Vinegar
A flask of water covered with a glass
Vinegar is an excellent rust remover, especially for items like metal jewelry, coins, and silverware. Small metal items can be dipped into vinegar, and then rinsed off with water. But, be sure to dry the items properly with a soft cloth. For cleaning large items, vinegar can be directly poured onto the item, or can be applied with a piece of cloth. Let it sit for a while so that it can dissolve the rust. Then wipe it off from the metal surface, rinse the cleaned item, and dry it with a cloth.
Baking Soda
Baking soda is another excellent rust cleaner. Mix water and baking soda to make a thick paste, and spread the paste over the rusted area. Allow the paste to settle for a while, and then check if the rust has loosen. If it has, then scrub the surface to remove the rust.
Hydrogen peroxide
Black bottle of detergent front view
To remove rust with hydrogen peroxide, pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide on the surface of the rusted item, and let it sit for a few minutes. Now, scrub the rusted area with steel wool or brush. Hydrogen peroxide can also be mixed with borax for cleaning rust off metal.
Salt and Lime Juice
Eco-friendly natural cleaners Vinegar, baking soda, lemon and
Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges can also be used for removing rust. They contain citric acid, which can be quite effective in removing rust from metals, and rust stains from clothes. For removing rust from a metal surface, sprinkle some salt on the rusted area, and then apply the lime juice. Let it sit for about 2 to 3 hours, and then rub off the surface with the rind.
Potato and Dish Soap
Body brush and soap in bathroom
Cut a potato in half, and dip the cut end in dish soap. Now, place it on the rusted area, and leave it for a while. Then rub the metal surface with the potato. To reapply, just cut the top layer of the used potato, dip it in the dish soap, and repeat the entire process.
Fragment of glass cola with ice
Many people recommend the use of commercial soft drinks like coke for removing rust from metals. Some colas and soft drinks contain citric acid that can eat away or erode rust. So, you can soak a piece of cloth in coke or cola, and rub the rusted area of the metal item with it.
Abrasive Tools
New and used sandpaper
You can also scrape off rust from the metal surface with the help of sandpaper, wire brush, or steel wool. An electric sander can also be used to remove rust from large metal items. However, sandpaper can scratch the surface of a metal item, which should be kept in mind before using any kind of abrasive tool for rust removal.
Commercial Rust Removers
Black gallon with empty label on white background
Commercial rust removers usually come in spray bottles, and they contain strong chemicals like phosphoric or oxalic acid that can dissolve rust. Phosphoric acid can convert rust (iron oxide) to a water-soluble phosphate compound that can be scrubbed off easily. But this acid is highly toxic, and this is the reason why commercial rust removers need to be handled carefully. So, be sure to wear gloves, safety goggles, and mask while using such products.
Rust Prevention
» When it comes to rust, it is always better to prevent its formation. To prevent your metal items from getting rusted, store them in a cool and dry place. Be sure to dry them properly, if they happen to come in contact with moisture or water.

» It is equally important to provide a protective covering to the metal surface for preventing the formation of rust. So, you can consider to paint metal items. But before doing so, be sure to apply an anti-corrosive primer. You can use a spray-on primer if the metal surface is smooth. For a rough surface, it is better to use a filler primer.

» After applying a suitable primer, coat the metal surface with a paint, and then seal it off with a clear top coat. The paint and the primer can provide a protective covering, and help keep the metal away from moisture.

Rust removal can be a bit difficult at times, especially if you allow the rust to stay longer on the metal surface. So, the most important point is to clean the rusted item at the earliest. The sooner you try, the easier will be the entire process.