how to clean rusty garden tools

How to Keep Garden Tools from Rusting?

In Gardening by Jamie

Keeping your garden tools in tip-top shape is a surefire way to make them last for years. High-quality, well-maintained tools make most gardening tasks much easier. When you neglect to clean your tools, oxygen and water react with the metal, causing rust.

So, how can you keep your garden tools clean and rust-free?

Vinegar is the most popular and scientifically accurate method of renewing rusty garden tools. The wire brush drill attachment can also help remove stubborn rusty residue off of your garden tools. After cleaning, applying WD-40 helps to protect your gardening tools from rusting again. 

Rust spreads like cancer, affecting more metal surfaces and destroying your gardening tools. Eliminating rust is critical yet requires some effort and time. Read on to find out how to make the process easier:

Cleaning Rusty Garden Tools with Vinegar

Finding your favorite garden tools all-rusted is frustrating, but it doesn’t mean you should throw them out and splurge on new ones. Whether you have a rusty pair of pruning shears, garden scissors, shovels, or garden knives, you can bring them back to life by soaking them in a weak vinegar solution.

Vinegar is probably the most popular and effective way to deal with rusty garden tools. It’s scientifically accurate, cost-friendly, and you’re more likely to have a bottle in your kitchen.

First, soak the metal parts of your tools in a vinegar solution – mix equal parts of water and vinegar – for at least 24 hours. You can use regular distilled white vinegar from the grocery store or homemade apple cider vinegar for it.

The concentration depends on how rusty your tools are. Use a weaker concentration when soaking slightly rusted tools. Or, add more vinegar if your tools are all-rusted. The acidity of the vinegar will help eliminate the rusty sections of your tools and keep them cleaner longer.

Heavily rusted tools might require extra soaking. Once you remove the tools from vinegar, wipe them down with some paper towel. Vinegar soaking might not work for stubborn rust, but there are some tricks to remove it, too. Continue on for more cleaning information.

Prevent Garden Tools from Rust by Using WD-40

WD-40 is well-known for its ability to protect metal surfaces from rust and moisture thanks to its corrosion-resistant ingredients. Spray a small amount of the product onto the metal parts of your garden tools and wipe them with an old washcloth.

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to rust. Before using the WD-40 product, make sure you remove grime and dirt from your garden tools. You might even need a coarse metal wire brush to scrape off any debris, slight rust, or dirt. The WD-40 product is also helpful in keeping your hand pruners from gumming up.

If you have free stuck corroded parts on moving tools, try using WD-40 to lubricate and make them work again. Just spray the affected area and let it penetrate for 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how rusty those parts are. Break the rusted bonds by pulling the tool apart.

Since the WD-40 product repels moisture that can result in rust, you can use it to coat metal parts of your garden tools before storing them for winter, for instance.

Still Rusty? Try Using a Wire Brush Drill Attachment

If your gardening tools remain rusty after a couple of vinegar soaks, opt for a wire brush drill attachment. Using a wire brush is actually the fastest way to remove rust, but it must be used with caution. Wire brushes can create visible swirl marks on most metal surfaces and can ruin soft metals, such as brass and copper.

In some cases, refinishing might be needed to renew a tool. If you’re looking to use a wire brush for removing rust from your garden tools, opt for brass coated wire brushes designed for rust removal.

Spray the affected area with WD-40 for several hours before drilling to loosen rust and protect the tool. Or, you can simply apply a bit of WD-40 to the wire brush to lower the likelihood of sparkling and swirl marks.

Attach a wire brush attachment to your drill and start cleaning the rusted area with minimal pressure, applying the brush at a 15-degree angle. Ensure you wear eye protection to guard your eyes against dust and flying grit.

The Final Word

Keeping garden tools from rusting isn’t rocket science. Vinegar concentration helps remove rust while a wire brush drill attachment fights the most stubborn rust stains. Once you get rid of the rust, tub your tools with a rust-protecting product like WD-40. You can also try these tricks with rusted outdoor furniture and other rusting metals.

Most importantly, store your garden tools in a dry, clean place to avoid rust buildup. With the aforementioned rust-removing strategies, you can get back to gardening in no time without splurging on new tools.