How to Clean Rusty Garden Tools

Clean rusty garden tools using various household items; vinegar is one of the most widely-used. Simply soak the tool in vinegar before scrubbing off with steel wool or brush to get it looking like new again.

Before beginning any task, be sure your tools are clean and dry. Also consider rubbing them down with mineral oil, WD-40 or boiled linseed oil to help prevent future rusting.


Garden tools such as rakes, hoes, spades, brooms and shears made of metal are susceptible to corrosion when left exposed to rainwater, soil and other garden byproducts for extended periods. When left untreated, this rust can cause pieces of metal to flake off, rendering these tools inoperable. However, you can clean rusty tools using both household and natural solutions in order to restore them back into service.

As the first step of tool cleaning, soak it in vinegar. Fill a container large enough to accommodate the tool with full-strength white vinegar and submerge it for at least 24 hours; the acetic acid reacts with iron (III) acetate found in rust to turn it water-soluble and eventually fall off of the surface of your tool – hence why vinegar appears slightly rusty after 24 hours, although this does not clean your tool itself but just removes some of its build-up.

Once removed from their vinegar soak, remove your tools and use steel wool or scouring pad to scour away any rust residue that has persisted since vinegar treatment. This step is especially necessary with tools with intricate designs like pruning shears or garden scissors which require frequent attention to their small surfaces and cracks for proper functioning. If your tools feature wooden handles, treating them with either linseed or vegetable oil could help protect them against drying out and cracking as a further safeguard against drying out and cracking.

Once your tools have been cleaned and scrubbed, wipe them down with rubbing alcohol or another disinfecting product that won’t be as harsh on them, such as an antiseptic. This will keep them lubricated and protect them against further rusting; giving you years of safe use from your tools!

Between cleanings, you should also make sure to oil moving parts like pruner and snip hinges with multipurpose or WD-40 oil to lubricate them and maintain proper operation. Frequent oiling also helps prevent future rust formation.


One of the best ways to keep garden tools looking their best and extend their lifespan is regular cleaning with baking soda – an inexpensive, natural cleaning agent safe for people, pets and plants alike! Baking soda’s mild abrasive qualities also help scrub away stubborn spots of rust from tools – providing an alternative to commercial rust removers which may contain caustic agents that damage garden tools in other ways.

Mix baking soda and water together into a paste, then apply it directly onto a rusted tool. Allow the paste to sit for 10 minutes or more, and scrub it off using a brush, rag, or steel wool until all of the rust has been removed before rinsing and drying the tool as soon as it is clean. Repeat as necessary.

Rust removal options include vinegar or a solution of 50% vinegar/50% water. Soak the tools overnight before brushing or steel wool scrubbing them until clean. For stubborn spots, mineral oil/WD-40 may help.

As part of keeping your tools in top-shape, proper storage is also key to keeping them functioning optimally. Avoid leaving them exposed to sunlight or rain for too long; rather store them in a shed that offers adequate ventilation without becoming overheated. Keep a bucket of sand mixed with vegetable oil on hand that you can push your tools down into after working with them each day, to prevent rust and rot damage while protecting gardening gloves as well.

Before storing away all your metal garden tools for the season, remember to apply a light coating of oil. This will prevent them from rusting during their stay in storage while simultaneously improving their performance when used next year – this step is especially vital when dealing with tools with moving parts like shears or snips.

Lemon Juice

Garden tools made of metal are susceptible to corrosion, making them vulnerable to rust. Rusted tools are unsightly and potentially dangerous for yourself and your plants; thankfully there are various methods you can use to clean off rust from gardening tools; one popular approach involves soaking them in a solution of vinegar and salt to dissolve both rust as well as any metal particles susceptible to corrosion.

Lemon juice can also help to remove rust by breaking it down and making it easier to scrub off with cloth or steel wool. Once completed, tools should be rinsed and dried off thoroughly after each scrub session.

There are various oils available that can lubricate metal tools and protect them from rusting, such as WD-40. Vegetable or mineral oils may also work; keeping in mind that moisture and oxygen on metal surfaces is the cause of corrosion; by keeping tools properly oiled this will keep them functional longer and reduce moisture/oxygen exposure on their surfaces.

If your rusty tools cannot be fixed with ease or are particularly bad, investing in new tools might be best. Before doing so, however, try some of the solutions above first to see if any old tools can be restored back into working condition and save both time and money in the long run. Doing this may even make gardening more productive than before – who knew!? Rust can even add character! Who knew!?


If your garden tools have become rusty, the first step should be thorough cleaning. One way to prevent further rust from developing is to regularly clean them after each use, before storing them for the day or season. Doing this will eliminate sticky sap build-up that clogs tools up and can eventually lead to rusting; an initial spray with a garden hose or quick scrub with metal brush or scouring pad should do just fine for most cases; for particularly stubborn or clogged-up tools requiring more work will likely be required; but even initial efforts alone may not suffice in clearing everything

Vinegar is one of the best ways to clean rusted garden tools safely and affordably, dissolving rust from steel with ease. For optimal results, soak rusted tools for several hours in an equal mixture of water and vinegar before using a scouring pad to scrub away remaining spots of rust.

After cleaning your garden tools with soap and water, it is crucial that they are fully dried before being put away. Rust forms when oxygen meets moisture; damp tools are an easy target. If possible, take the extra step of wiping all moving parts with oil (motor oil works well while vegetable oil may be less toxic and eco-friendly), to prevent future corrosion.

WD-40 Specialist Garden and Lawn Lubricant can do an effective job of protecting steel tools against rust. Plus, its relatively cheap cost makes them widely accessible home improvement stores. If your tools feature wooden handles, medium grit sandpaper should be used before applying linseed oil to prevent cracking and any parts touching wood should also be coated in order to safeguard against moisture damage.

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