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How to remove rust from tools

Whether you’re a budding DIYer or toolbox veteran, you need a variety of tools to get the job done.

But what most tools have in common, from spanners to power tools, is they’re made of metal, which rapidly rusts without proper care.

This guide explains how to remove rust from tools and offers tips to prevent your tools from rusting again in the future.

Let’s get to it.

Why are rusty tools a problem?

Every toolbox contains a rusted screwdriver or hammer, so what’s the big deal?

Well, rust blunts a blade’s sharpness and can seize a tool’s moving parts, compromising everything from pliers to lawnmowers.

What causes tools to rust?

Rust forms when iron and oxygen react in the presence of water or moist air.

So even if you store your tools in the shed or garage, a damp environment can cause them to rust rapidly.

Let’s look at some solutions for those rusty tools.

Cleaning rust off tools with WD-40

Let’s start with hand tools – think chisels, wire cutters and smoothing planes.

Begin by removing any excess rust from the tool’s surface. If the rust is thick, scrub off the top layer with a wire brush or wire wool.

Next, grab a can of WD-40 and spray a small area of the rust to test the metal. After ten minutes, gently scrub away the residue.

Everything should be hunky-dory, but if the spray causes damage, you might need a different product, like lubricant. 

However, if the WD-40 works well, shake the can, and, using the wide spray nozzle, cover the metal’s surface, including any joints, hinges and screws.

Leave the solution to rest for a minute before scrubbing the rust away with your wire brush. The key here is to be gentle and patient, as vigorous scrubbing makes the surface rough and patchy.

Once you’ve removed the rust, wipe away the WD-40 and any sticky rust particles with a clean cloth.

Your tool should look good as new, but give it another quick spray of WD-40 to prevent it from rusting in the future. 

Removing rust from power tools

Now for the big guns – power tools, which can be rendered useless if left to rust. Here’s how to remedy your rusty power tools:


In a dry location, remove your tool’s worktable (if it has one).

Remove any debris using a can of compressed air – this allows you to blast away as much dirt as possible from the tool’s cavities without having to take it apart.


Like with hand tools, you can remove rust from your power tools using WD-40. Just be careful not to allow any to seep into the casing, as it could damage the electrical components.

Cleaning rust off tools with kerosene

Many tradespeople and DIYers use kerosene to get rid of the rust.

You can do this by wetting the metal with kerosene, leaving it for an hour, and scrubbing away the rust with steel wool.

Doing this gently will loosen the rust, then just wipe away with an absorbent cloth.

Next, check everything’s rust-free, paying close attention to the corners and undersides. Apply some tool polish and leave to dry.

Once the polish has set, buff the power tool – the same way you’d wax a car – until it shines.

If you disassembled the tool earlier, put it back together – and you’re good to go!

Now your tools are shiny and rust-free, you can get back to your latest interior project – or sort that DIY disaster!

And don’t forget, we’ve got a packed selection of hand tools and garden power tools ready to tackle any DIY project – big or small – plus a host of storage solutions to keep them neat and tidy.

2022-03-23 14:13:00 0 viewed
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Philip Kerr
Thanks for the tips as they are very helpfull
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