Ashleigh Smith + photo

Ashleigh Smith

Jun 6
3 min read
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Rusty garden tools on a table

It happens. You may forget your shovel or hand trowel outside, and before you know it, the rain comes leaving your shovel covered in rust. Can this awful mistake be fixed? Absolutely! To remove rust from your garden tools, use the following process.

Removing Rust from Metal Tools

removing rust

Step 1: Soak your tool in a 50/50 vinegar and water solution overnight. The acid from the vinegar will neutralize the rusting reaction.

Step 2: Using a metal bristled brush, or piece of steel wool, use circular motions to remove the rust.

Step 3: Use soap and water to clean off the tool.

Step 4: Be sure to dry every nook and cranny of the tool well.

Step 5: A sharp tool is a working tool. One of the biggest mistakes gardeners make is not sharpening their tools regularly. This can really add time to your everyday tasks.

Step 6: Lightly rubbing your clean tools with mineral oil, WD-40, or boiled linseed oil can help prevent future rusting. Add a little bit of your preferred oil to a cloth and rub it onto the metal portions of the tool.

sharpening garden pruners loppers

rusty shovel with wood handle

*Take care of the handles too. If your tool has a wood grip, be sure to keep it splinter-free by sanding rough spots smooth. Leaving wood tools exposed to the elements can cause drying, splintering, and loose fittings.

Occasionally cleaning and oiling your tools will help keep them in top shape. It is understandable that after a long day in the garden, you just want to put your tools up and rest. That is perfectly fine as long as you are regularly maintaining your tools and keeping them ready for use. Remember, a gardener is only as effective as their tools.

Take a lesson from me. This last week I needed my pruners and couldn’t find them. Finally, after looking in all the usual spots, I found them outside resting under the patio cover. The only problem was, It had been raining off and on all week. In this area, if it rains, it is also windy. I ended up finding my beautiful pruners were covered in rust in a matter of days.

Using this simple trick, I was able to get them cleaned up and ready for many more years of use. Protecting your tools from little accidents like mine can end up saving you a lot of work when it comes to cleaning up a problem. Plus, you will get more life out of your favorite tools.

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