Removing Rust From Garden Tools


Taking care of gardening tools preserves the life of the tool and assures you it will work as designed the next time you use it. Washing down tools and applying a thin coat of oil keeps rust at bay. For those times when tools have been left out in the weather, or you simply have not taken the time to care for them, rust may develop. Although a little rust on that hoe or spade may not seem like a problem, if left untreated the rust will spread further deteriorating the surface of the tool.

Step 1

Wash down the tools with the sprayer attachment on your hose to remove any remaining soil or residue from use. Dry thoroughly. Placing a shovel in the sun for a few minutes quickly dries the blade.

Step 2

Remove light rust with ordinary sandpaper by working from the inner most edge to the outside in a small circular motion. Brush the residue free with a soft brush. Apply a coat of engine oil to dry tools once rust is removed to prevent further oxidation.

Step 3

Use a wire brush to work heavier rust buildup from tools that have been neglected. Scrub vigorously and brush the residue free. Follow with sandpaper and coat with oil to protect the surface.

Step 4

Remove severely rusted areas with a wire brush attachment to your drill. Work the entire surface area, brushing away residue to get a good look at your progress. Repeat as necessary until the surface is free of corrosion. Finish off with sandpaper and a coat of oil.

Things You'll Need

  • Sandpaper
  • Engine oil
  • Soft bristled brush
  • Wire Brush
  • Drill with wire brush attachment
  • Soft cloth


  • The Rust Store: Be Good to Your Garden Tools and They'll Be Good to You
  • Fine Gardening: Clean Sharp Tools Work Better
  • Lawn Care and Tools: Learn How to Remove Rust from Your Lawn and Garden Tools
Keywords: remove rust, rusty tools, wire brush

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.