How to Remove Rust From Antique Tools


An old, once-prized hand tool is a sad sight when it's covered with rust. Tools that have been eaten away by rust must have their metal parts replaced by a skilled metal worker. However, if the tool is affected only by surface rust, it can be restored to a pristine and usable condition. Citric acid is a main ingredient in many household cleaners and works extremely well on rusty tools and implements.

Things You'll Need

  • Protective goggles, mask and gloves
  • Citric acid powder
  • Large container
  • Warm water, 60 to 65 F
  • Soft brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Disassemble the tool completely, separating wooden parts from metal. Don protective goggles, mask and gloves; citric acid is not harmful but can sting. Mix a solution of 1 cup of citric acid powder to 1 gallon of warm water.

  • Place the metal components in the solution. While they're immersed, gently scrub each part with the soft brush. It should only take a few minutes for the rust to come off.

  • Remove the parts from the citric acid solution and inspect them. Remove any remaining rust in crevices with a toothbrush. Dip the toothbrush into the solution if necessary.

  • Dry the tool components carefully. At this stage you can protect surfaces by wiping on some protective oil or water displacement spray. Reassemble the tool and sharpen if required.


  • Photo Credit old and rusty image by mark smith from
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