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How to Remove Rust on Garden Tools

By Cynthia Myers ; Updated September 21, 2017

After a winter of cold and snow, you’re ready to take out your garden tools and get your garden and yard in shape. But spending all winter in a garage or shed can be hard on your rakes, hoes and shovels, and you may discover they’re wearing a new coat of rust. Rust dulls and pits the surface of metal tools and can destroy them over time. Take time to remove the rust from your garden tools and keep them in good shape for another season of work.

Wipe down the rusted tool with a rag soaked in mineral oil. Some of the rust should come off with this step, along with dirt and old grease.

Scrub the remaining rust with steel wool or fine sandpaper. Work from the center of the tool out and down, away from your body and out across the blade. This will help to keep from dulling the tool.

Apply a commercial rust remover to any remaining rust. These preparations are usually sold as a thick jelly. Wipe on and allow to sit on the tool for the amount of time specified on the product’s label. Wipe off with a clean rag.

Burnish the tool with steel wool to remove any remaining rust and apply a thin coat of mineral oil.

Use the file to resharpen the blades of shovels and hoes. File in short, sharp strokes away from your body.


Things You Will Need

  • Mineral oil
  • Rags
  • Steel wool or fine sandpaper
  • Commercial rust remover
  • File


  • Keep tools rust free by cleaning them after each use and applying a thin coat of mineral oil several times a year.


  • Always wear eye protection while removing rust to keep rust particles from entering your eyes.

About the Author


Cynthia Myers is the author of numerous novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from "Historic Traveler" to "Texas Highways" to "Medical Practice Management." She has a degree in economics from Sam Houston State University.