What it Takes to Remove Rust

The scourge of garden tools is rust. Even with good care tools can get some rust. If neglected a little they can become more than ugly, some may become unusable.

A Pound of Prevention

The first attack on rust is obvious—avoidance.

wet garden plants

  • store tools in a dry space
  • avoid working when the soil and plants are wet
  • don’t leave tools out over night (rain, fog, and dew are unpredictable)
  • dry and oil tools immediately after using when gardening in wet conditions is necessary.

There is no question that at times you must work in environments that are less than ideal. But with a little careful scheduling you can avoid a lot of wet conditions.

Immediate Response

The second attack on rust is immediate response to any appearance of rust on your garden tools, no matter how small it is. When you use your tools it is easy to check for rust as you are cleaning up before putting them away.

Do it Now!

It is also easy to get lazy, to let your mind drift to other topics during this time, because cleaning up your tools doesn’t require much thinking. Your mind may drift to what your are going to do next in or out of the garden.

It is also easy to take note but delay doing anything until “next time.” Instead, pay enough attention to your tools to catch any appearance of rust. If you spot any, take care of it immediately.

Be Prepared for Rust

The third thing you want to do must be done in advance. Make sure you have the tools and supplies you need readily available. There are not many, but if you don’have them you can’t use them. So be prepared.

The better care you give your tools, the less you will need in the way of rest removal tools and supplies. So some of these will be used for only small amounts of rust and some will be required for more extended work.

steel wool

    1. Once again, WD40 is a great help. In addition to its other uses in caring for your tools, WD40 is a great aid in loosening up rust.
    2. Steel wool is probably your most important rust removal tool. You need at least two grades, course and fine.
    3. a wire wheel brush (brass) for your power drill is another almost essential tool if you have very much rust to remove.
    4. occasionally you may need a rust remover like Boeshield Rust Free.


There may be times when you need another aid such as a small wire brush or some sandpaper, for example, but if you have these items on hand you will be prepared for almost any common rust on your garden tools.

What to Do About Rust

If you are following the recommendations in this article and have gotten your supplies organized you are ready to go. In the next article, Garden Tool Rust Removal, we will look at the actual process of getting rid of your garden tool rust.