Keep Your Garden Tools Rust Free With These Tips

Taking care of your garden requires a lot of maintenance. Several tools, such as shovels, shears and chainsaws, are used for various gardening jobs.

Now and then, rust can form on garden tools, which can take away from a tool’s stability or the functionality of some garden machinery.

Here at Gustharts, we’ve covered everything you need to know about cleaning garden tools and how to prevent your tools from rusting again.

Table of contents

What causes rust on garden tools?

Garden tools are not the only items that are susceptible to rusting. Any item that contains iron can rust. In technical terms, rust is the result of oxidation in metal. In less scientific terms, rust occurs when tools are not properly looked after. When garden tools are not properly cleaned or dried before being stored away, this causes oxidation in metal, causing rust. Corrosion takes place and eats away at the metal, which forms rust on the surface. If rust is left unattended, it can take several hours to remove.

How to clean rust on a garden tool

If you’re a keen gardener, one of the things that you will need to know is how to clean rust from your garden tools. You can use various homemade remedies to do this.

Homemade remedies

White vinegar

White vinegar is one of the most popular and easiest ways to clean rust off your garden tools. This household item is very accessible and can be bought in various stores. To clean your garden tools, start by submerging them in white vinegar.

Once submerged, allow the tools to soak for approximately 30 minutes to an hour. Some tools with larger amounts of rust will require a longer soaking time to help clean them. After soaking, use a bristle brush to scrub away the rust.

After scrubbing the rust, rinse and dry your tools thoroughly with a cloth to wipe away the remaining rust. Repeat the process or opt for a different method if any rust remains on your tools.

Baking soda and lemon juice

Create a paste to help remove rust from your garden tools by mixing some baking soda and lemon juice in a bowl. The paste should be easy to spread across your tools. Once you have made your paste, use a cloth or a sponge to apply the paste to your tools and let it sit for approximately 30 minutes.

Once you’ve let it sit, like with the white vinegar, use a bristle brush to scrub the tools and remove rust.. If rust remains after this step, repeat the process to ensure you remove all the rust. Once removed, thoroughly rinse and dry your tools.

Potato and salt

You may be reading this wondering how a potato can remove rust. Raw potatoes contain oxalic acid, often found in common rust removers. A raw potato can act as an effective rust remover when combined with an abrasive.

Slice the potato in half and sprinkle some salt on the inside. Once done, rub the inside of the potato on the rusted area of your garden tools. Thoroughly rinse and dry your tools once you have completed this step. If rust stains remain, either retry or opt for a new method.


Coca-Cola contains a high level of phosphoric acid, a common ingredient in various rust removers. You can either fill a bowl with Coca-Cola and submerge your tools or directly pour the drink on them.

Once you have left the tool to sit for around an hour, use a bristle brush to scrub away the rust. After this, ensure that you thoroughly rinse and dry your tools before placing them back into storage.

Cleaning rust off stainless steel

One of the best materials for gardening tools is stainless steel. Stainless steel gardening tools are highly durable and very resistant to rust and corrosion. Although highly resistant, stainless steel garden tools will rust over time if not maintained correctly. If your tools get rusty, follow these steps to remove the rust.

Step 1:

Mix one tablespoon of baking soda in 500ml of water.

Step 2:

Rub the solution over the rust stain using a cloth or a toothbrush. Baking soda will remove the rust stain without damaging the stainless steel grain as it is non-abrasive.

Step 3:

Rinse the tool and wipe away any excess dust. When removing rust from stainless steel, never use abrasive powders, such as salt, as this will scratch the  surface of your tools. Steel wool is also not recommended for the same reason.

Which garden tools get rusty?

Now you know the causes and how to remove rust using various home remedies, knowing how to remove rust from certain garden tools is the next step. Learn how to maintain and care for your gardening tools, from hedge trimmers to secateurs, with the next section of this guide.

Hedge trimmer blades

You will need a steel wool pad to remove the rust from your hedge trimmer blades. Rub the steel wool pad back and forth along the blade to scrub the rust away. Ensure you wear gloves while doing this to avoid cuts. For rust that has become more ingrained within the blade, soften the rust by applying a lubricant. Leave the blade for approximately 30 minutes before using the wool pad to scrub away any remaining rust.

If any rust remains, apply the home remedies above and use the steel wool pad to scrub away the final pieces of rust. Ensure you thoroughly rinse and dry your hedge trimmer blade before storing the machine away.


Chainsaws, hand saws, and saw blades are treated for rust almost the same way. One thing to always do when removing rust from a saw is to wear gloves to ensure you don’t cut yourself.

When removing rust on a chainsaw, remove the non-electrical parts of the machine, like the chain and bar.

Apply one of the home remedies to the blade you are cleaning and wipe off any rust with a brush or steel wool pad after waiting for the remedy to settle. Once the rust is removed, thoroughly rinse and dry the saw before storing away. Ensure that you reassemble your chainsaw once you have removed the rust.

Handheld garden tools

Rust can be easily removed from any handheld gardening tools using one of the home remedies in this guide. Wearing gloves is recommended when cleaning rust off handheld tools to avoid cutting yourself.

To clear rust from shears or secateurs, the home remedy of vinegar or coca-cola will do the trick. Submerge any small garden tool in a bowl of vinegar or coca-cola and leave it for the recommended time. Once done, scrub away any rust with a steel wool pad before thoroughly rinsing and drying the tool.

You must hose down larger garden tools such as shovels, spades or garden forks before wiping them with a home remedy as they are too large to submerge. Use a steel wool pad to remove rust before thoroughly rinsing and drying your garden tool.

How to prevent garden tools from rusting

Now you know how to clean rust from your garden tools, you should be able to prevent your tools from rusting in the future. Rust occurs when tools are not dried properly before being stored away.

The first step to prevent your tools from rusting is to ensure they are cleaned and dry before you store them away. Keep your tools under a shelter, such as a garage or shed, to prevent rain from getting to them. You can also apply spray on wax or oil coatings as an extra layer of protection for your garden tools.

To prevent your garden tools from rusting, opt for gardening tools made from stainless steel. Stainless steel tools are highly resistant to rust and are built to last.

Keep your garden tools rust-free with Gustharts

Following this guide will help you to remove any rust from your garden tools and prevent your garden tools from rusting. To help you start gardening, why not browse our range of hand tools and rakes?

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