How To Remove Rust From Your Gardening Tools

old rusted garden tools | How To Remove Rust From Your Gardening Tools | Featured

Gardening comes with its fair share of rusty garden tools. That is why Garden Season is here with a detailed guide on how to remove rust from tools with two options to choose from.

In this guide, you will find: 

RELATED: Green Thumb Award-Winning Gardening Tools

How To Remove Rust From Tools Two Ways

1. How to Remove Rust From Tools Using Vinegar 

vinegar in clear bottle | How To Remove Rust From Your Gardening Tools | how to remove rust from tools

Things You'll Need:

  • Metal rod
  • Nail polish remover and warm water solution
  • Wire scour pads
  • Pure vinegar
  • Sandpaper
  • Soap and Water
  • Bucket
  • Clean towel


  1. With the use of a metal rod scrape off the dirt and grease layer from your rusty tools.
  2. Use a mixture of warm water and nail polish remover to remove any remaining hard-to-peel-off layer. A wire scour pad or a firm brush pad will make this easy.
  3. Pour your pure vinegar into a bucket and soak your scraped off garden tools overnight.
  4. Remove your submerged garden tools, one at a time, and thoroughly sand with fine-grit sandpaper to remove the remaining rust.
  5. Clean the sanded tools with soap and water, and use the wire scour pad to clean your garden tools thoroughly on both the sanded parts and handles. The handles do not rust, but they have dirt build-up you should get rid of.

Pro Tip:

  • Soaking time may vary depending on how rusty your tools are but overnight to a 24-hour soak will do the work.
  • When soaking your tools, create some form of support so only the rusted parts are submerged.
  • The vinegar reacts with the rust, which loosens it making it easier to scrub off. This prevents the tools from wearing out from too much scrubbing.
  • Sand each tool around three times, returning it into the rust removing vinegar after every sanding. This will help get rid of rust and any grime layers that might not have come out previously.
  • Hold your tools firmly for more comfortable and fast sanding or lock them into place, especially bigger garden tools. You can use a clamp or vise to hold the tools in place
  • If you still encounter stubborn rust stains, you can return the tool to the vinegar solution to work the rust as you clean your other tools.

RELATED: 26 Gardening Tools Every Green Thumb Should Never Be Without

2. How To Remove Rust From Tools Using a Lemon Juice Solution

squeezed lemon in spraying bottle | How To Remove Rust From Your Gardening Tools | how to remove rust from tools

Things You'll Need:

  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Water
  • Steel wool


  1. Make the lemon juice solution by mixing the salt, lemon juice, and water in equal proportion.
  2. Soak and allow your rusty garden tools to sit in the lemon juice solution before you start working on them.
  3. Once the tools have been in the lemon solution for a considerable amount of time, remove one at a time and scrub the loosened rust with a steel wool ball.
  4. When you are satisfied with how your tools have turned out, rinse with clean water and air dry to avoid further rusting.

Pro Tip:

  • The longer tools will be soaked, the easier the rust removal process will be.
  • Return the tools in the lemon solution as many times as you need until you are satisfied with how much rust you have removed.

Watch this video from ToolWorks-restoration show on how to remove rust in two hours:

There you have it, green thumbs! Your garden tools will rust, but with these step-by-step guides, you have options for cost-efficient ways to restore their shine and beauty.

You can use this guide to clean other rusty items in your homes like outdoor decor and auto parts.

How do you keep your garden tools rust-free? Leave a comment below!

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