How to Remove Rust from Metal: 8 Best Ways

How to Remove Rust from Metal

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Rust is a really nasty and damaging substance that forms on the surface of any metal that contains iron when that iron interacts with oxygen and moisture in the air. Rust can spread very quickly, but if you remove the initial stages of it, you might be able to prevent any serious long-term damage.

With that being said, removing rust is not that easy and takes a good bit of work. Therefore, today we’re going to talk about the best ways to remove rust from metal.

8 Ways to Remove Rust from Metal

As you’re about to find out, there are actually a few different ways to remove rust from metal, and which method you choose really depends on the specific situation. For instance, removing rust from large metal objects is not going to be the same as removing it from smaller objects, which also differs from removing rust from painted metal objects.

1. White Vinegar

White Vinegar for Removing Rust Without getting into the science of it, white vinegar has the ability to create a chemical reaction with rust that will result in it dissolving right off of metal. The best way to use this method is to soak the rusted piece of metal in white vinegar for at least four hours, and then scrub it off.

Now, if the piece of metal is too large to soak in white vinegar, then you can always pour a good amount of it over top and then let it set. A really cool method here is to use a piece of crumpled-up aluminum foil, dip it in vinegar, and then use it as a brush.

If the rust is very severe, then you want to use a piece of steel wool to scrub the rust off of the metal after it has soaked in vinegar. If the rusty metal object is severely rusted, then you may want to allow the object to soak in the vinegar for at least 24 hours before scrubbing it off. The longer you let the rusty metal sit in the vinegar, the less scrubbing you’ll have to do.

2. Salt and Lime

Just like the acidity in white vinegar, the acidity in either lime or lemon juice also has the ability to dissolve rust. Now, here you also want to use some rough or coarse salt, as this will act as a scrubbing agent, something coarse to scrape the rust off.

Here, you want to sprinkle a thorough coating of salt onto the rusted metal. You then want to soak that in lime or lemon juice for at least three hours. You are then going to use the rind of the lemon or lime to scrub away the rust, as it is strong enough to remove the rust without damaging the metal.

3. Baking Soda Paste

Another method to remove rust from metal is by using a paste made out of water and baking soda. Here, you want to make a paste that is just thin enough to spread over the metal object that has rust on it. You want to let this baking soda and water mixture sit for as long as possible, at least a few hours.

Once it has been settled for a while, you will then use a toothbrush or any other kind of brush to scrape away the rust. Keep in mind that there’s no exact recipe here, and you can water down that baking soda paste as much as you want.

4. Potato and Dish Soap

Yes, we do realize that this method sounds very strange, but it does actually work. Here, you want to take a large potato and cut it in half, and then cover the inside of it with dish soap. You will then put that dish soap-covered potato onto the rusty metal and let it sit for a few hours. The dish soap combined with the potato will create a chemical reaction with the rust, which will make it much easier to remove.

This might not work the first time, in which case you can always reapply the soap-covered potato. If you happen to not have any dish soap around, using a baking soda paste along with the potato will work. You can then use any kind of scrubbing utensil, such as steel wool, to remove the rust from the metal.

5. Oxalic Acid

Oxalic Acid Oxalic acid is a substance well-known for being able to remove rust from metal, but it is dangerous, so you want to wear protective clothing, eye protection, and rubber gloves. You also don’t want to inhale the fumes or expose this acid to an open flame.

You want to take the rusty metal and wash it with some dish soap, then dry it thoroughly. You will then mix 250 ml of warm water with a teaspoon of oxalic acid, then let your item sit for about half an hour. You can then use a brass brush, steel wool, or anything else of the sort to scrape the rust away.

6. Store-Bought Rust Remover

Rust Remover There are also plenty of different store-bought rust removers out there, including chemical rust removers.

These are typically made out of either oxalic acid or phosphoric acid and can be very dangerous to your health. Using any such chemical store-bought rust remover will usually involve soaking the item in the remover for a certain amount of time, and then using a coarse scrubbing utensil to remove the rust.

7. Rust Converter

Rust Converter Here we have a very unique option to consider, a so-called rust converter, which converts rust into a substance that will no longer spread. A rust converter stops rust from spreading, although it won’t actually remove any existing rust.

If you plan on painting over the metal, this is the only option at your disposal. It’s the only thing that will stop rust from spreading and forming, therefore allowing you to paint over it.

8. Sanding or Grinding

Angle Grinder Perhaps the best way to remove rust from any metal objects is to use any kind of abrasive tool. Now, this could mean using something simple like steel wool or a brass brush to scrape away the rust from the metal object, especially if you have already soaked it in a solution, such as any solutions that we have talked about above.

Another thing that may work is some very coarse sandpaper, as coarse sandpaper, especially something like diamond grit sandpaper, should be rough and strong enough to remove rust from metal objects.

Something else you can do is to use an electric sander, especially for large metal objects. Another tool that you can use to physically grind away rust is a grinder combined with a metal grinding disc. If there is a lot of rust, a thick layer of it, then using a grinder with an appropriate grinding disc is probably your best choice.

What Is the Best Way to Remove Rust from Large Metallic Objects?

The best way to remove rust from large metallic objects really depends on the exact shape and size of the object in question. If you have a large metal object, but you also have a large bucket or bathtub that you can use, then soaking that metal in any kind of rust-dissolving solution, such as any of those mentioned above, is ideal.

Yes, using any of those solutions does work best, but the issue is often that your object will be too large to put inside any kind of container that you can soak it in.

If the metal object in question is curved and able to hold on to some liquid, then you can still soak it by pouring the liquid over the metal. However, if the metal object is simply too large and cumbersome to be soaked or to hold onto any liquid, then your only real option is to use something like a grinder or sandpaper.

What Is the Best Way to Remove Rust from Painted Metal?

The best way to remove rust from painted metal objects is to mix 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and some water, to create a paste. You’re then going to cover your rusted object in that paste, let it sit for about 15 minutes, scrub it with a toothbrush, reapply the solution, let it sit for another few hours, and then scrub it away.


You should now know the eight best ways to remove rust from metal. Remember that the solution you choose will depend on the specific situation at hand.

That said, to avoid having to deal with this issue in the future, your best bet might be to learn how to prevent metal from rusting.