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How to Remove Rust From Steel


Rust results from a chemical reaction between iron and oxygen in water, which can be hazardous if left unchecked.

Fortunately, various methods are available for removing rust from steel and metal tools. Depending on the damage’s severity, you can try multiple approaches until finding one that works best in your situation.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is your go-to for removing rust from steel. Not only does it clean effectively, but its powerful nature allows it to restore kitchen knives and other metal appliances without harming them.

Baking soda is an all-purpose cleaner that can be used on many surfaces. Not only that, but it also helps remove stains and grime.

It is slightly abrasive and can loosen stubborn rust stains and particles that soap cannot reach.

To remove rust from a metallic object, sprinkle some baking soda and moisten it before scrubbing it. The baking soda will dissolve the rust as you work.

Once it’s time to remove the baking soda, use a scouring pad to get rid of any extra powder, keep the place wet at all times to minimize scratching that may occur. After five minutes of scrubbing away at the metal, you should start seeing some rust disappear. Repeat this process until all traces of rust have been eliminated from its source.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is an inexpensive and efficient way to remove rust from steel surfaces. It also works great at eliminating stains on delicate fabrics.

If your item has become rusted, try soaking it in water and citric acid for several hours. Once the rust is gone, wash and rinse with clean water.

This process may cause microscopic pits in metal, so wear gloves when using it. Furthermore, it can potentially damage the finish of metals; thus, be mindful not to apply it on painted surfaces.

Another efficient method for eliminating rust from steel involves the use of a flashlamp and a thin layer of citric acid. The intense burst of radiation combined with its chelating properties act to dissolve surface oxide layers on steel surfaces quickly.


One of the most efficient methods for eliminating rust from steel is vinegar. This household staple is created through a two-step process (alcoholic fermentation and acetification).

Vinegar is an organic substance containing acetic acid. This acid is a mild corrosive, dissolving and chipping away at rust and other oxidized particles.

Another way to use vinegar is to combine it with salt for enhanced abrasive power. This combination makes it easier to scrub away rust from tools, nails, screws, and other metal items that have become rusted due to moisture exposure.

Soak rusty tools in a solution of white vinegar and salt for 20 minutes to 12 hours, which allows the rust to loosen up, making it easier to scrub off. You may need to repeat this process several times before all traces of rust have been eliminated. However, this method is simple, secure, and inexpensive; it works on various metals, including stainless steel.


Salt is an ideal rust remover. Its abrasive properties allow it to quickly and safely scrub away rust from surfaces without harming them.

Mix coarse salt and cooking oil for small or medium rust spots and apply them directly on the affected area. Scrubbing with a paper towel or soft cloth in circular motions using either a paper towel or soft cloth will eliminate most of the rust; however, this method works best on surface rust but can also be applied to larger rust areas.

Some people use cola to remove rust, but this method is not as successful. Cola contains phosphoric acid, which can break down metal surfaces; however, it’s sticky and unsuitable for smaller areas.