Rust can creep up in many places, such as on tools, kitchen appliances, and even kids' toys. Rust appears on metal where humidity sits on the surface for long periods and may significantly damage the item if not removed quickly. Luckily, there is more than one way to remove or dissolve rust. Some items found in your pantry can do the trick, or you can go to a hardware store or other retailer and purchase a rust remover, which will also help fix the problem.
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Household Rust Removers
Avoid a trip to the hardware store by going through your pantry first. The first product you should look for is white vinegar. Vinegar works as a natural cleaner due to its acidity, and it will begin dissolving rust on contact. You can immerse the rusted item in a bowl full of vinegar or even wipe or pour it on a rusted surface to help remove rust stains. Once the rust is gone, rinse the rusted surface with water and wipe it dry, as the vinegar could damage the surface of the item if it is left sitting for too long.
Lemon juice can also be used to attack and dissolve rust because of its acidity. It can be combined with coarse salt to have a powerful effect. Pour salt on the rusted area first and then douse it with lemon juice. Let it work for a short amount of time; then wipe it off, rinse thoroughly, and dry it with a clean rag.
Baking soda can help remove rust as well, but it must be mixed with water to make a thick paste. Apply the paste to the rust and let it sit for a few hours. The only downside to using baking soda is that you need to give it a bit of help by scrubbing the rusty surface with a brush. Once the rust has been lifted, rinse with clean water and dry the area thoroughly with a towel.
Commercial Rust Removers
Oxalic acid is an extremely strong rust remover that can be used to eliminate rust if the item can be immersed in the diluted product. Mix 3 tablespoons of oxalic acid with 1 gallon of water and let your items soak in the solution for 20 minutes. It's important to wear rubber gloves and safety goggles, being careful not to splash yourself or surrounding areas. Rinse the items well with clean water and dry them.
WD-40 is a lubricant as well as a rust remover. Spray the WD-40 directly on the rust and let the product sit for five to 10 minutes. Use a wire brush and scrub the toughest area first. Move outward toward the less concentrated zones until the rust is completely removed from the surface. Wipe away the rust and excess product with a dishcloth.
Other reputable store-bought rust removers include Evapo-Rust and Whink Rust Stain Remover. Always use these types of products according to their label instructions and use protective eyewear and gloves if the product instructions suggest that you do so.
Before using a commercial rust remover, you may want to test it on a small, inconspicuous area to make sure it does not negatively affect the appearance of your item.
Alternative Rust-Removal Method
An alternative and interesting rust removal product is cola. Cola is known to remove rust from nail and screws and can even clean rust stains in your toilet bowl. It's a cheap yet effective method but not always the best choice. Although the item may come out rust-free, there will be a sticky residue in its place, so this may not be the most efficient way to clean.