The Q&A Archives: Cleaning Rusty Garden Tools

Question: What is the best way to clean rust off of garden tools, and should they be repainted after rust is removed?

Answer: The paint is there to form a protective layer against moisture, so you could repaint them or simply keep them well-oiled. Prevention is half the battle here, and it is usually recommended that you clean dirt off your tools regularly and store them under cover in a dry place. Many gardeners will clean them and then run them into a bucket of sand and a bit of oil to recoat them after use. Pruners and other blades do best with frequent sharpening and a bit of oil on the hinges.

If the tools are severely rusted they may not hold up to more use safely; if they are slightly rusted you might try a bit of steel wool or perhaps a dab of "naval jelly" type rust remover (check the label directions to see if it is appropriate for the metal in question). Another option is to brush off the rust as well as you can and then use a rust inhibiting primer and paint according to the label instructions.

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