Preventive Health

How to Clean Rusty Garden Tools

Rust is an unavoidable part of gardening because the tools are used in moist, humid environments. Rust can reduce how much soil you can move and how effective the tool is when cutting through roots or trimming hedges.

It’s not uncommon for gardeners to have a bucket full of rusty tools that they need to clean before next season starts. Here are some quick tips on how to remove rust from your gardening tools!

Which Tools You Needs

  • Rusty pruners
  • vinegar
  • Mason jar
  • Scour pads
  • Lubrication
  • Soap

Step 1 – Soak in Vinegar

Rusty Felco 2’s were the worst to clean. It was a difficult process, but after 24 hours of soaking in a mason jar with white distilled vinegar they became much easier!

Clear away all rustiest sections first and then use your fingers or an old toothbrush for loosening any other dirt caked on there.

Step 2 – Scour Rust

You’ve been soaking your tools for at least a few minutes, and now it is time to scour the rust off. For some of these stubborn bits that won’t come out with just soap alone.

You may need metal-containing scrubbing pads such as our heavy duty steel wool or stainless steel bristles. If there are any nooks and crannies in which water can get stuck inside.

Then make sure to spend extra time on them so they don’t become rusty again!

Step 3 – Dry and Lubricate

After you’re satisfied with your scouring efforts, grab some paper towels or a cloth and thoroughly dry your tool. It’s important to get it as dry as possible.

Because we’re going to apply 3-IN-ONE Multi-Purpose Oil next. This stuff is super handy and the telescoping spigot makes applying it in hard-tofight spots an absolute breeze!

Apply liberally then use another towel of cloth again for really rubbing into the surface of the tools.

Final Step

With the rust and dirt finally gone from my Felco 2’s, it was time to lube them up. Fortunately for me I have some of that expensive orange-smelling Snap-On oil in a can on my work bench.

So we didn’t need anything special! It only took about 15 minutes before they were ready to go again. But next time you know better than leaving your tools out like this.

Unless you want another whole day worth of labor coming after all these hours spent with nothing broken or needing attention.

Why Vinegar Is Best To Remove Rust?

What is it about vinegar that makes this method such an effective remover of rust? We have to get a little science-y on you. First, we have answer the question:

What is rust?

Rust is hydrated iron oxide, which reacts to vinegar. If you want all of the nerdy details here’s what’s happening on a chemical level:

First some acetic acid gets mixed with rust and then they react together. The reaction between these two substances will create an unusual substance called Iron III acetate!

This new compound contains water molecules that are bound up by your old rusty metals. This means it can be used as paint or ink for art projects such as blacksmithing, stained glass windows, and more!

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