How to Clean Rusty Metal Without Removing the Paint

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Things You'll Need

  • Cleaning rags

  • Scrub brush with nylon bristles

  • Rubber gloves

  • Organic rust converter

  • Strong detergent

  • WD-40

Conventional wisdom says that if you want to remove rust from a metal object, you will have to sand it or use some other abrasive method to get the rust off. This can be tiring and time consuming although it is certainly effective. If you want to get rust off a metal object without removing the paint--which sanding will certainly do--you will need to use an organic rust remover to eliminate the rust. Once you have done this, you can repaint the object or just start using it again.


Step 1

Clean off the metal surface as much as possible. Use a damp rag or a scrub brush to remove all dirt, dust and grime. This will prevent you from creating a dirty mess when you treat the rust. Once you have finished cleaning, dry the metal completely to avoid creating more rust.

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Step 2

Use a clean rag to apply the organic rust converter. These converters come in several types. Some dissolve rust while others change it into a hard, black substance that will serve as a primer should you wish to repaint the metal and that will prevent it from rusting again. You can apply both types with a rag, but wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.

Step 3

Allow the rust converter time to work. Give your metal several hours while the rust converter does its work. Depending on the brand of converter, you may need to apply a second coating after an hour or two.

Step 4

Clean the metal object. Once the rust converter has eliminated or changed the rust, de-grease the entire object. Use a wet cleaning rag with 5 drops of strong detergent on it. Rub the object down using heavy pressure and rinsing and adding more detergent completely. This will get your object ready for a new coat of paint or ready for use.


Step 5

Apply a thin coat of WD-40. You can spray it directly on the metal. This is ideal for garden tools and objects that do not need to be repainted for decorative reasons. Now you are ready to start using and enjoying your rust-free metal.


Do not get the rust converter on your hands. Be sure to wear gloves.


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