Rust is great — as a color for a blazer or an accent wall, maybe. Actual rust, on the other hand? Decidedly less great. Rust is corrosion caused by a chemical reaction when iron, water and oxygen meet, which is why it tends to appear on metal that's exposed to the elements. Though it builds up gradually, you can knock out rust in just minutes using things you already have around the house.
White Vinegar and Salt
It'll pickle your vegetables and eat through your rust. Simple white vinegar is truly an incredible asset. Ideally, you'll submerge the rusty object in a mixture of vinegar and salt, and let it soak at least overnight. For larger objects, pour vinegar into a spray bottle and spray it over the rusted area. Use a stiff brush to remove the rust and thoroughly rinse the object.
Club soda isn't the most powerful rust buster. After all, if it's safe enough for you to drink, it's good to know that it won't eat away at corrosion on your tools or metal lawn furniture. That said, the carbonation in this classic cocktail mixer may help loosen rust and make it easier to brush away. Soak objects in fizzy club soda for 30 minutes or so before scrubbing them.
Another potent rust-fighting agent is probably hanging out near your spice cabinet. Mix baking soda and a little water to make a thick paste and spread it over the rusted area. Alternately, rinse the object and sprinkle on baking soda while it's still damp. Let the baking soda sit for an hour and scrub away with steel wool. For lighter areas of rust, this quick fix should do the trick.
The acidity that makes your mouth pucker when you eat lemons will also help destroy rust. You could try simply soaking a rusted object in lemon juice, but a more effective option is to use lemon juice instead of water with the baking soda treatment. Use lemon juice to make the baking soda paste and get the benefits of two different elements attacking the rust. While it works, use any extra lemon juice to make yourself a refreshing drink in celebration of your title as Rust Conqueror.
If you're willing and able to put some elbow grease into your battle against rust, do some stretches and grab the sandpaper. The biggest downside of using sandpaper to tackle rust is that it could leave scratches on the object's surface. So while it's not a great idea to use sandpaper to remove rust on, say, your car, it should be fine for less valuable objects like gardening tools. Start with a coarse grit to loosen the rust and finish with a fine grit to smooth the surface.
Okay, sandpaper and acidic things like lemon juice will tackle rust; that makes some logical sense, right? But if we told you that the humble potato could help you get the same results, would you wonder whether it was April Fools' Day? Maybe so, but this surprising tip really works. Cut a potato in half and sprinkle salt or baking soda over the cut side. Holding the potato half in your palm, use the cut side to scrub at the rust. When you see how effectively the spud works, you'll have no choice but to pledge your undying love for potatoes — if you haven't already done so.
Believe it or not, coca-cola is a great candidate to fight rust. Not only is it acidic enough to get the job done, but it also contains citric acid and phosphoric acid, making it a solid solution to restore pots and pans.