How to Clean Rusty Garden Tools? – 6 Simple Methods

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After every long gardening session, we just look to wrap up our garden tools and rush off to get some rest. But how many times do we see that when we take out the tools after a few days for another session, most of the tools become rusty? If you are on this page, then this has probably happened to you.

ou are probably even worried about having to buy new garden tools. However, although prevention is the best way to avoid rusting, all is not lost yet. Rest assured that you can still clean rusty tools and bring them back to their full glory. There are many ways to bring the rusty tools back to their shiny best.

In fact, most tools can be cleaned by simply utilizing some basic things you already have at home. Read on to find out the best ways to renew your rusty garden tools.

How to Clean Rusty Garden Tools

clean rusty tools

Before targeting the rust, it’s important to clean garden tools and remove dirt or dust. Dust and mud will stop anything from accessing the rust easily.

As such, most rust removal methods might not work. So, to remove the dirt off the tools, you could use a brush and bring the tool under running water.

Clean thoroughly through tight spaces. Leave them to dry under sunlight. Once your garden tools are free of dirt or mud, you can move and focus on removing the rust. So, how do we get rid of rust?

1. Vinegar Solution

​Vinegar is the most commonly used item to remove rust. Even the basic distilled white vinegar can fight off the rust. All you need to do is get the vinegar from any grocery store and pour it in a small bowl. Now soak the metal part of your tools into the vinegar. Leave it soaked overnight.

Soaking will remove the upper layer of the rust. Now to target the deeper layer of rust, you can take out the tools from the solution and wipe with a paper cloth. Afterwards, you can use steel wool and rub the rust off the metal. If you still see some rust, try repeating the whole process.

2. Citric Acid Solution

This is a great and less abrasive way of removing rust. The best thing about citric acid is that it not only fights the rust, but it also helps to bring the shiny finish back, which we all love. Citric Acid can be used as it is, or in its powdered form for application over the garden tools.

However, keep in mind that if you use the solution, some tools and parts might become brittle. As a result, it is advised to use the powdered form in order to prolong the tool’s life.

To use it, pour some warm water in a bowl with the garden tools inside. Afterward, sprinkle some citric powder from the top. You will start observing a few bubbles coming out of the water. If not, pour some more powder until the bubbles start flowing.

Next, use steel wool and start rubbing the rust off. This might take some time but rub continuously. You will see that the rust starts coming off slowly. After you clean the rusty garden tools, take them out of the water, and gently wipe with a cotton cloth or paper towel. Now you can relish the brand new looking garden tools.

3. Black Tea

This may sound surprising, but black tea is actually a great ingredient to fight rust. Not many people know of this method yet. But for those who know, it has always worked wonders. All you need is a solution of black tea. Keep in mind that it should be cold, or at room temperature.

Once you have the solution ready, bring in your garden tools and soak them in the black tea. Keep them as it is for a couple of hours. After that, take the tools out of the solution, and wipe them with a paper cloth. You will be able to smoothly take the rust off. Once done, rinse with clean water and remember to dry it up with a soft cloth.

4. Soda or Cola

Soda or Cola

Just like black tea, your regular soda or cola bottle is another surprising ingredient that you could use to remove rust. The method is pretty straightforward again. To begin, just pour some cola or soda into a bowl. Then, soak your tools inside the bowl and rub them with either a rag or steel wool.

Within a few minutes, you will notice the rust coming off. Rub until the entire rust comes out. Once done, take out the clean garden tools and wipe them with a cotton cloth. You can apply oil to them once they are dry to make them as good as new.

5. Baking Soda

Baking Soda is a great ingredient that has multiple uses and benefits in our day-to-day lives. One such benefit of it is its ability to remove rust. Consequently, if you are looking to clean rusty garden tools, then baking soda can be the answer.

Similar to other solutions, the first step in removing rust using baking soda is to take baking soda and put it in a bowl. Add some water in it, mix it, and make a paste. Apply the paste with your hands over the tools. Make sure to spread evenly and do not skip any side.

Once the paste application is done, leave it to dry for a couple of hours. Now take a brush or steel wool, and scrub the paste off.

You will notice that the rust will fall off along with the dried paste of baking soda. Rinse the tools with clean water and dry them with a paper towel. You can apply oil later on and get clean and shiny garden tools.

6. Dish Soap and Salted Potato Combination

You might be wondering how a potato can remove rust. Although it sounds like a myth, it’s true, even a potato can be useful in removing rust and cleaning rusty garden tools. Although it can’t do the job on its own – you will also need a pinch of salt and some regular dish soap.

For those who don’t know, potatoes come with oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is an ingredient used in many cleaning products and is renowned for its ability to dissolve rust easily. To begin cleaning garden tools, you first need to cut the potato in half and put some dish soap over the cut. Also, sprinkle some salt over it.

Now, start rubbing the potato on the rusty garden tools. Scrub continuously, and the salt, along with the soap will work as a mild abrasive. This will eventually scrape out the rust, and you will get bright and shiny garden tools. Make sure to rinse with clean water once you are done, and let the tools dry before you use them again.


By following the simple DIY methods using mostly home ingredients, you can remove the rust off your garden tools. But the challenge will be to ensure that they do not become rusty again. For this, you should take proper care of your tools.

You should clean garden tools after every use. Understand that water and moisture are some of the major reasons behind rusting. Therefore, it is of great importance to keep the tools dry and clean.

Another thing that might help is the regular oiling of the tools.

Oil will prevent rust and keep the tools in good shape for a long time. Besides, it ensures that they maintain their sharpness and their performance doesn’t dip.

Simply put, try your absolute best to prevent rusting. However, if you encounter it again, then don’t worry too much, as our DIY tricks have got you covered.

Do you want to make your own gardening tools? Check out our guide!

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