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Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

Remove rust from tools the easy way

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Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

News flash: Metal tools and water don’t mix.  Well, they do mix and then create rust!  And that is what happened to our hammer, screwdriver, and putty knife when they were inadvertently left outside overnight.  Do you have tools that have seen better days, too?  Well, there is a scrub-free, easy way to remove rust from tools and make them look great again. The secret?

Vinegar!

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Yup!  Good old vinegar. It works like a charm!

Here are my sorry screwdriver and hammer after spending the night in the outside dew. (We found the putty knife a little later, so it wasn’t in the first pictures, but it definitely needed some TLC, too.)

Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

First, I tried to wash them with soap and dry them, but the rust stayed. I know vinegar is used to clean lots of things, so I figured I’d try it on my tools.

Here’s how to remove rust from tools.

Use a container deep enough to submerge the tools.  I used a Cool-Whip tub.

Use plain old white vinegar.  Since vinegar is useful for so many things these days (here’s how I used it to refresh and fluff up my old towels), I already had a partially used gallon of it.

Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

I put the tools in the tub and poured on the vinegar until they were covered.  The putty knife didn’t quite fit in the Cool-Whip tub, but it was close enough.

Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

Now for the EASY part. Let them sit and soak.

Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

This is after 1 hour.  You can see flakes already coming off. Yay! (I put the putty knife in right after I took this picture.)

Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

I set the tub out on the back porch and let the tools sit overnight. Here’s what they looked like the next day. Ick!

Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

You can really see the difference when you look at the putty knife!

Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

So, this is what they looked like, once I dried them off.  I used a paper towel, and a lot of black gunk came off the tools as I rubbed them.  I should have taken a picture of the paper towels, but be glad I didn’t.  They were pretty gross! I couldn’t get in between the claws of the hammer very well, so I used an old nail brush to do that.  The nail brush worked well on the edges of the putty knife, too.  But, I PROMISE, I didn’t have to scrub with the nail brush.  I just used it to reach where I couldn’t use the paper towel.

Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

After I rubbed off all the residue, the tools were rust-free, but they looked a little dull. So, I dug out my trusty WD-40.

Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

A squirt of WD-40 and a quick buff with a paper towel makes the tools look great and it will keep them rust-free now.

Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

So, here is a side-by-side comparison.  Before and after the vinegar soak and WD-40 “polish.”  Quite a difference, huh?

Do you have rusty tools that have seen better days? Here's a scrub-free, easy 1-ingredient way to remove rust from tools so they look great again.

This was such an easy project!

Vinegar is so inexpensive and if you don’t already have some WD-40, you need to get some anyway.  It’s great stuff! 😉 I didn’t have to scrub or use nasty chemicals and, seriously, it worked like magic overnight!  What’s not to love about that???

So, if you have some neglected tools that have seen better days, now you know the secret to a scrub-free, easy way to remove rust from tools and make them look great again. Let me know how it goes!

And here are some great ways to store those tools in your garage once you get them cleaned up: 5 forgotten storage areas in your garage. 

How do you keep your tools clean? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Happy cleaning!

~ Pam

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Author: Pam Hoepner

Hi I'm Pam, a seasoned homemaker with a husband, 3 teenagers, and a houseful of pets. I'm also a librarian and professional organizer (The Economical Organizer) who loves to share my hard-earned homemaking, DIY and organizing skills with others so you too can have a Life, Creatively Organized.

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