How to Remove Rust from Garden Tools

Did you know that garden tools are meant to last a lifetime?  That they are not disposable?  No, neither did I!  I lose them in the yard, forget about them, and then find them again after it rains.  And they’re rusty and ugly.  So, ummmm, sometimes, I just buy new ones.  I know.

I fondly remember my dad taking such good care of his tools.  He would sharpen them on a grinder, oil them and then organize them in his shed.

So, I channeled my dad and though I didn’t do the whole proper routine, I did clean up my old, ugly guys and am sharing how to remove rust from garden tools.

Because it’s really easy.  I promise.  Here’s what I did.

Gather and Disassemble

I gathered up all of my tools from the various spots I had left them in the back yard and hub took apart the shears so they could properly soak.

Soak in Vinegar and Salt

Using an old cake pan I care nothing about I covered the tools in white vinegar and poured in table salt.  The ratio is supposed to be 16 parts vinegar to 1 part salt.  But in reality, I just emptied both used containers with what they had left in the them and called it good.

I left them in the garage for 24 hours.  I really didn’t need to smell vinegar in my house for that long.

Use Steel Wool

After 24 hours the rust had magically fallen off the tools.  Amazing.  I really didn’t need the steel wool, but I touched up around some of the joints and any remaining rust came off quite easily.

Remove the Acid

Rinse the tools in warm water and then make a new bath of water and about 1/3 cup baking soda to remove the acid.


After thoroughly drying, I oiled the tools with 3-in-One Oil.  Then hub reassembled them.  Which was sort of difficult remembering how they went back together.

Some of these tools are so old the finish has worn off, but all the rust is completely gone. 

Now it’s time to clean the other tools that are not completely ruined yet.

And.  Time to get planting and refresh my pots for fall.

Afternoon Tea

Remember when I went to Corpus Christi?  Just kidding.  I know you don’t remember because I barely remember.  It was almost a year and a half ago!  But I mention it because I had cardamom tea at a yummy restaurant and have been looking for it this entire time. 

I finally found some on Amazon and got a box this week.  I’m so excited. 

Additionally, using my 15% discount for buying online and picking up at the store, I got a tin of Paris tea and cherry blossom tea from World Market.  I know I probably pay more for the tin than for the actual tea, but the bags are beautiful and the tea is divine.

Hub said, “You sure have a lot of tea.”  He scratches his head, but I’m in a constant state of tea-drinking. Happily.

Wrap Up

Are you still with me?  Wake up.  The post is over.  I know, not a very exciting week, but I feel sort of productive and very caffeinated up.

I have been reading like crazy too.  But that’s for another post.

Big weekend plans, anyone?  I intend to spend as much time outdoors as possible and soak up the fall.  Which I refer to as summer light.

Thanks for sharing my journey!

3 Comment

  1. Thanks for the info on the garden tools! Cold weather by project here along with polishing the silver pieces. Looking for new modern ways to use that stuff.
    As far as the cardamom tea, I can help with that.
    Loose tea put in a pot with a strainer. If you don’t have one just strain as you pour. Take whole cardamom and smash it with the blade of a knife
    like you would garlic. Put it with the tea, pour hot water over it and steep around 10-15 minutes.

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