Saturday Assignment: Remove Household Rust With These 5 Natural Remedies

updated Mar 17, 2020
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Rust is a quiet, subtle things that sneaks up on your pans, pots, servingware and even some furniture. The weekend’s a perfect time to rid your metal of this pesky unsightly element. And guess what? There are five eco-friendly ways to remove rust, most of which came from you, our readers!

Rust comes in many different forms, but the most common in households is rust from iron oxides, where metal is exposed to water or air moisture and becomes oxygenated. A lot of commercial rust removers contain toxins, so here are some common household items to get a jump start on any rust removal projects you may have around the house.

One tip before diving in is to grab an old toothbrush for your applicator if one isn’t included in the recipe. Although steel wool and abrasive brushes are thought to really “scrub” away the rust, they also can cause further abrasions on the piece causing more rust. So with the right proportions of the recipes below, all that harsh scrubbing shouldn’t be necessary.

1. Salt + Lime: Sprinkle a little bit of salt on the rust, then squeeze the lime over the salt until it is soaking. Let the mixture sit for 2-3 hours and then remove the rust with the lime rind. This can also be done with a lemon. We like the salt and lime a little more because they double as margarita ingredients as well.

2. White Vinegar + Aluminum Foil: One smart reader dipped aluminum foil in white vinegar and scrubbed away the rust.

3. Baking Soda + Water: Put baking soda directly onto the rust, and then with a toothbrush apply water and scrub. This Re-Nest reader suggests going with the grain depending on what you are cleaning.

4. Vinegar Soak: This smart reader places smaller rusty items in an overnight vinegar soak, like rusty tools, and hasn’t needed to scrub any of them!

5. Potato + Dish Soap: Emily Ho recommends cutting a potato in half, and then dipping the cut end in dish soap or baking soda. Then apply the soaked end to the rusted area and rub. To keep going, just cut the potato’s top layer and re-apply the soap.

One final tip: Make sure to dry the item thoroughly after removing the rust! We wouldn’t want all of your hard work to be undermined. Also, prevention is key. So keeping things clean, paint jobs fresh, and applying quick coats of primer will help reduce rust in the future.

What are your favorite rust removing tips? What are often your rustiest home items? And how do you prevent rust from showing up in the first place?

Re-edited from a post originally published 03.03.11 – AB