If you have old, rusted tools that seem unusable at first glance, do not rush to throw them away. Rust can be removed even if the entire tool is covered with it. To restore the original appearance of tools, add dishwashing detergent to a container of warm water and immerse the tools in the water, then scrape off the rust with steel wool or sandpaper. You can also dip the tools in a saline solution to soften the rust, after which it can be removed with a sandpaper. You can also remove rust with oxalic acid, which is available in stores.
Method 1 of 3: Remove rust with a sandpaper
Step 1. Wash the tools from dirt and grease
Pour warm water into a basin, add dish soap and stir until foam forms. Place the tools in soapy water. Wash them from dirt and oil stains with a sponge or cloth without removing from the water. As soon as you clean the tools of dirt, remove them from the water.
- Dishwashing detergent and water will mix better if you pour the detergent into the basin first and then add water.
- Dry the tools thoroughly so that they do not slip out of your hands during sanding.
Step 2. Start at the areas with the most rust
Examine the tool and determine where large build-up of rust has formed. The cleaning process will be easier if you first deal with large growths and then move on to small spots.
In particular, you should first remove the overgrown scales, after which you can begin to remove small inclusions
Step 3. Remove rust with a coarse sandpaper or steel wool
It is easiest to start cleaning large rust build-ups with coarse sandpaper. If the skin is worn out, take a new sheet.
Step 4. Remove any remaining rust with a fine-grain sandpaper
Go over the tool with a fine sandpaper to remove the remaining specks of rust and restore the metal to its former shine. Using a softer sandpaper will avoid damaging the metal.
If there is still rust on the tool, it may be worth trying to remove it chemically
Step 5. Rinse the tools with water and dry
After removing all the rust with a sandpaper, rinse the tools under running water to remove the remaining rusty dust. Take a clean rag and wipe the tools dry.
- If the instruments are not completely dry, new rust may form.
- Treat instruments with WD-40 to remove any remaining moisture.
Method 2 of 3: Use Acetic Saline Solution to Clean Up
Step 1. Prepare your tools
If you are going to clean machine parts such as a saw blade, first remove them from the machine. Pour warm water, add dishwashing detergent and wash off grease and dirt in soapy water.
Step 2. Place the tools in a large container
You can use a plastic container, pot or bowl, as long as the tools are fully submerged. Use a container that you won't need for 1-3 days.
Step 3. Fill a container with table vinegar (6%) and completely immerse the tools in it
Table vinegar is highly acidic and corrodes rust, making it easier to clean your tools. The amount of vinegar depends on the number and size of instruments in the container. Accurately measure the amount of vinegar you are going to pour so that you can measure the corresponding amount of salt later. Attention: use table vinegar (6%) for cleaning, and do not confuse it with acetic acid (70%)!
Step 4. Add table salt to the vinegar
Add about ¼ cup (60 ml) salt for every liter of vinegar. The salt will increase the acidity of the vinegar so that the rust will soften faster in the solution. Stir the salt in the vinegar thoroughly.
Step 5. Leave the instruments in the solution for 1-3 days
It takes time for the vinegar and salt to soften the rust. The longer the tools are in the solution, the easier it will be to remove the rust.
- Place the container out of the reach of children and animals. For example, you can take it to the garage.
- Remove instruments with moving parts from time to time and move them so that the solution penetrates into the various recesses and depressions.
Step 6. Sand the tools with an abrasive sponge
As soon as you remove the instruments from the vinegar-saline solution, carefully sand them with an abrasive sponge. Sand until all rust is removed.
- For large rust build-ups, use a wire brush.
- To remove rust from hard-to-reach areas, grab a sturdy toothbrush and rub in a circular motion.
Step 7. Wash the container and fill it with clean water
Drain the vinegar solution and wash the basin. Pour in the same amount of clean water as the vinegar.
Step 8. Add baking soda to the water
The baking soda will neutralize the acetic acid so that no trace of the vinegar solution will be left on your tools. Add about ¼ cup (60 ml) baking soda for every liter of water. Stir the baking soda into the water.
Step 9. Submerge the tools in water
Make sure the tools are completely submerged in the baking soda solution. Let them sit for 10 minutes and then remove from the solution. Dry them thoroughly with a clean towel.
Step 10. Clean the tools from rust with a steel wool
Take an ultra-fine metal wool scrubber of 0000 # grade and use it to scrub the tools until all rust is removed.
Step 11. Wipe instruments with denatured alcohol
Pour some denatured alcohol onto a clean rag and wipe down the tools. This is to ensure that there is no moisture left on the tools, which can cause the formation of new rust.
Apply camellia oil to keep your tools from rusting
Method 3 of 3: Use oxalic acid to clean
Step 1. Buy oxalic acid
If you decide to use a special rust remover, you can find oxalic acid in your home improvement store and hardware store. It works more quickly than a homemade solution.
Step 2. Put on safety goggles and rubber gloves
Observe precautions when using oxalic acid for cleaning. Take care to protect your eyes and hands, as oxalic acid is corrosive. This step is optional, but it is best not to neglect it, as glasses and gloves will protect you from burns.
Step 3. Clean in a well ventilated area
Oxalic acid evaporates quickly. If you work in a poorly ventilated area, oxalic acid fumes can irritate the respiratory tract and cause dizziness, so open windows and doors. If you have a fan, turn it on.
Step 4. Wash your tools in soapy water
Pour dish detergent into a container, add water and stir. Thoroughly clean tools from dirt and grease.
Step 5. Pour 4 liters of water into the container
The container must be large enough to hold water and tools. If you need more water, increase the amount of acid proportionally.
Step 6. Add 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of oxalic acid to the water
Stir the acid and water gently. Try not to spray acid on yourself or around.
Step 7. Immerse the instruments in the container
Place the instruments in an acidic solution and let sit for 20 minutes. It takes time for the acid to soften the rust.
When using oxalic acid, there is no need to clean the instruments by hand. The rust will peel off by itself under the influence of acid
Step 8. Rinse the tools under running water and dry them
Rinse off the acid and dry the tools with a cloth. The instruments are now ready for use and storage again.
Wipe the tools dry, otherwise they may rust again
- Store-bought acid works faster than homemade solutions.
- Rusting a tool does not mean it is no longer usable. Do not throw it in the trash, as the rust can be removed.
- If you don't want to deal with harsh acids, try softening rust with Coca-Cola.
- If you need to remove any rust from a vise or adjustable wrench that has stopped moving or extending, first immerse it in a container of transmission fluid and leave it for 1 day. Then proceed with cleaning.
- Only perform acid cleaning in a well ventilated area.
- Handle acid with care. Wear safety goggles and gloves.