How to Clean Rust Off of Keys

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Things You'll Need

  • Vinegar

  • Saucepan

  • Bowl

  • Toothbrush

  • Rag


Remove internal lock rust by spraying vinegar inside a lock.


Wear gloves before touching rusty, sharp metal to avoid contracting tetanus. If you suffer a cut, call your doctor to find out if you need a shot.

Keys rust when exposed to moisture, and rust affects the way a key fits into a lock by slowly dissolving the shape of the key. This causes problems because locks require a key with an exact shape to open. And once a key's teeth, the jagged part, have dissolved, a copy can't be made. The key is ruined and a locksmith needs to make a key from the lock, which can be expensive and time consuming. Keep keys dry to prevent rusting in the first place; if you have rusted keys, use vinegar to remove the rust.


Video of the Day

Step 1

Wipe off any dirt or debris covering the rusted keys. Vinegar works better when it can make direct contact with the rust.


Step 2

Simmer enough vinegar to cover the keys in a saucepan. Don't put the keys into the saucepan, though.


Step 3

Pour the vinegar into a bowl. Add the keys. Allow the keys to soak for 30 minutes. If the rust layer is thick, soak for another 30 minutes.


Step 4

Take out the keys. Use a toothbrush to scrub off the rust. If rust remains, soak for another hour. The acid in the vinegar removes rust.


Step 5

Wipe off all residue with a rag. Don't worry--the vinegar smell disappears after a little while.


Report an Issue

Screenshot loading...