How to Remove Rust From a Mailbox

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Rust forms when iron corrodes in the presence of oxygen and water and/or salt. Whether you own a metal or plastic mailbox, over time rust spots can form – from exposed metal areas where paint has worn away, from rusting hardware or from rust-containing water dripping off nearby rusty objects. Although commercial rust removal products exist, you can usually remove any rust stains using basic cleaning supplies that you likely already have in your house.

Things You'll Need

  • Light, cooking or multi-purpose oil
  • Spray bottle
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Lint-free microfiber cloths
  • Fine-grade brass wool (optional)
  • Melamine resin foam eraser (optional)
  • Gel, spray or paint-on sealant or paint

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Apply a rust-removing basic cleaning agent on to the rusted areas on your mailbox. If dealing with rust on a metal mailbox, apply light, cooking or multi-purpose oil. If dealing with rust on a plastic, fill a spray bottle with undiluted distilled white vinegar and spray the rust stains and/or rusting hardware.

Wait 15 minutes. Apply a small amount of oil or vinegar to a lint-free microfiber cloth and then rub the soaked rust spots. Continue rubbing, reapplying the oil or vinegar as needed until the rust rubs completely off the surface.

Remove any tough spots by scrubbing the area with a slightly abrasive tool – fine-grade brass wool on metal, damp melamine resin foam eraser on plastic.

Rinse the mailbox surfaces thoroughly with warm water to remove cleaning agent residues and rust particles.

Wipe dry your mailbox as much as possible and then allow it to air dry. Apply a gel, spray or paint-on protective sealant or paint to all metal areas.

Tips & Warnings

  • If necessary, unscrew or pull and remove any hardware -- for example, screws, nails or hinges -- and soak the hardware in oil or vinegar for 30 to 45 minutes in a container and then rub away the rust.
  • If you can't remove all of the rust stains, treat the areas with a commercial rust removal product and then rub and rinse away the stains.
  • If your mailbox has rust on it from dripping water, move the mailbox away from any nearby rusty iron objects.
  • Harsh abrasives and chemicals can damage your mailbox or its support post. Additionally, abrasives can etch surfaces, allowing moisture to create new rust spots beneath the surface level in the future.
  • Never use steel wool to rub away rust spots, as it can leave behind small pieces of steel that will rust when exposed to moisture.

References

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