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10 Best Ways to Remove Rust From Metal Furniture (With EASY Steps)

Today I have the 10 BEST WAYS to remove rust on metal furniture. Mostly using common items from your garage or pantry. With TIPS to fully restore rusted metal.

How To Remove Rust From Metal Furniture

Stop throwing out that rusty outdoor furniture. There are so many easy ways to remove that rust and restore metal furniture to LIKE NEW condition.

This little picnic table is so sweet. Who wouldn’t want to save it, right?!

DIY Steps for Rusty Metal Table Repair. Works on most outdoor metal furniture too. It's so easy to save that metal furniture from years of rust and weather damage. #rusty #repair #metal #table
I found this kids picnic table on my Dad’s pile of things to recycle. I couldn’t bare to see it go. I had to restore this rusted metal furniture.

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I have 10 proven ways to remove rust from metal outdoor furniture, metal parts, and tools. Some of these work faster than others. Some of them are better for small items like tools.

Others are best for big jobs and heavy rust. Let’s get into it and I’ll give you some rust removing tips and tricks to help you get the job done.

10 Best Ways To Restore Rusted Metal

Before we get started, I want to say there are even more ways than this to remove rust on metal. But, these are the top ones I’ve tried or seen used.

Some of the other tricks for removing rust on metal I avoid because they’re too messy, like using ketchup, or they use chemicals that aren’t safe on skin, so I’d rather not mess with those.

Let’s get started.

Image of rusty outdoor furniture with text that says "10 best ways to remove rust on metal".

Using A Stiff Bristle Brush To Remove Rust

Grab that stiff bristle, wire brush and a bucket of soapy water to scrub every inch of that metal. Remove as much rust as possible. This will require more physical effort that most of the other ways to remove rust.

It’s really important to remove all of the loose and flaky bits before you paint rusty metal furniture. Then rinse the metal clean and completely towel dry to avoid starting new rust growth.

You can see an example of a good steel wire brush on Amazon here. Here’s a set of steel wire brushes in different sizes, great for reaching tough spots. Neither is expensive.

Using Vinegar To Remove Rust On Metal

Vinegar is great at removing rust on metal. But, it needs to be left on the metal for a while to work. If your rusty metal is small, like a tool, you can submerge it in vinegar for a few hours.

If you need to remove rust on larger items, like rusty outdoor furniture, soak rags or paper towels in vinegar. Then wrap them or place them on the rusted metal.

Follow that up by wrapping the rags or towels with foil or plastic bags to hold the soaked rags in place. That will also stop the rags from drying out, so the vinegar can work longer.

After a few hours of soaking the rust in vinegar, you should be able to easily remove any visible rust with a little steel wool. Or, wad up some aluminum foil to scrub that loosened rust off.

White Vinegar is one of my favorite household cleaning products. It descales coffee makers, cleans windows, cleans my dishwasher filter, and works great at cleaning my shower glass doors.

Using Wire Brushes And Wheels To Remove Rust

You can also use a wire brush and/or wire wheels with your drill to quickly restore that rusty metal furniture to it’s original, rust-free metal look.

And, one of the benefits of using wire brushes is that it’s a lot less physical labor than scrubbing it by hand. Wire brushes and wheels are one of the best solutions for heavily rusted metal.

This set of wire brushes comes in different shapes and sizes, perfect for large spots and hard to reach spaces.

Using Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide To Remove Rust

For smaller patches of rusty metal, you can mix Baking Soda into a paste with a little Hydrogen Peroxide. Apply that paste to the rust and let it sit for an hour or two.

Then scrub away all that rust with a Heavy-Duty Scrubbing Pad or a little steel wool. Rinse it clean with fresh water, then dry completely.

Image of someone mixing hydrogen peroxide with Baking Soda to remove rust on metal.
Baking Soda mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide can also be used to Clean Grout Without Damaging Grout Sealer.

Using Evapo-Rust Rust Remover On Rusty Metal

Evapo-Rust is often voted one of the TOP rust removers available in stores. Not only does it work amazingly well. It’s also an incredibly safe way to remove rust without much effort.

Evapo-rust is non-toxic, biodegradable, water-soluble, non-corrosive, reusable, and pH neutral. It also has NO VOC’s, fumes, or acids. And, is safe on skin and eyes. Incredible, right?!

To use Evapo-rust, submerge the rusted metal in it or cover the rusted metal with a layer of it. Wait for the rust to be removed, then rinse with water, and dry completely.

Image showing a popular rust remover for a post about 10 ways to remove rust on metal furniture.
I LOVE that this product is safe and still great at restoring rusty metal to rust-free metal.

Using Limes Or Lemons And Salt To Remove Rust On Metal

The acids in limes and lemons are great at removing rust on metal. BUT, you’d have to squeeze a lot of them for large rust spots. So this one is best for small rust spots.

To remove rust with lemons and limes, sprinkle the rust spot with a nice layer of salt. Then squeeze enough juice onto the rust spot to complete cover it. Leave it in place for a few hours to remove the rust.

The salt is coarse enough to help you scrub any residue off. And, it’ll help hold the juice in place, instead of spreading out. You could also use a cotton ball soaked in juice to keep the juice on the rust.

Use Citric Acid To Remove Rust On Metal

Instead of using fresh lemons or limes, you can get the same result with store-bought Citric Acid. You can usually find Citric Acid in the baking section of your grocery store.

Mix the Citric Acid with some hot water. You can soak the small rusty metal items in the mixture. Or, to remove rust on metal furniture, saturate rags or paper towels in the mixture.

Wrap the saturated rags around the furniture. Then wrap them in plastic or foil to keep them wet while the acid penetrates the rust. This method might take 24 hours or more for tough rust.

Here's the easy to follow steps for How to Paint Rusty Metal Furniture. You can save it from the junk yard and make it beautiful again!
Here’s that sweet little table after I restored the rusty metal, painted it, and I replaced the wood.

Using A Potato And Salt On Rusty Metal

This might sound strange, but it really works! Peeled raw potatoes contain Oxalic Acid. Oxalic Acid can breakdown rust on metal, helping to remove it.

You can get the best results by sprinkling that raw potato with some salt or baking soda (for grit), then scrub the rust spots with that salted potato.

For safety and peace-of-mind, stick with the food based rust removes (like potatoes, lemons, or limes) for kitchen utensils and pans. Leave a rusty knife in a potato to safely and easily remove rust on sharp blades.

Use Angle Grinder Stripping Discs On Rust

An Angle Grinder is another great tool that can be used to grind off the rust on metal to expose bare metal. Angle Grinders are another one of the best solutions for heavily rusted metal.

The Angle Grinder can also be used to smooth metal surfaces after the rust was removed with one of the other ways to remove rust on metal.

Just be sure to wear safety glasses and follow all safety instructions when using an Angle Grinder.

Using Diesel To Remove Rust on Tools and Metal

Last but not least, you can soak rusty metal tools and parts in Diesel to remove the rust. This is an old-fashioned, proven way to remove rust that my Grandpa always used.

Let the rusty metal soak for 24 hours in the Diesel, then scrub it clean with a brass brush. Finish by rubbing the tool dry with an old rag.

You can store that Diesel for the next time you need to clean rust off metal.

DIY Steps for Rusty Metal Table Repair. Works on most outdoor metal furniture too. It's so easy to save that metal furniture from years of rust and weather damage. #rusty #repair #metal #table
The bottom of this table was covered in rust after years of sitting outside unprotected.

How To Protect Metal After Rust Removal

Unprotected Iron and Steel will begin to rust as soon as they are exposed to air. Other metals rust with contact with water or humidity. So, be sure to apply some sort of protector right away.

Here are a few good ways to protect metal after rust removal.

  • You can use a metal primer to seal the metal and protect it from rusting. Something like Rust-Oleums Rusty Metal Primer or Krylons Rusty Metal Primer.
  • You can apply a Paint & Primer In One Spray Paint made for metal.
  • Use a Clear Coat Spray made for metal.
  • You can apply WD-40 to metals that only get lightly rusted, like tools, to protect them.
  • For stainless steel pans and other cookware, always dry them directly after washing. Then store them in a dry, humid-free location.
DIY Steps for Rusty Metal Table Repair. Works on most outdoor metal furniture too. It's so easy to save that metal furniture from years of rust and weather damage. #rusty #repair #metal #table
Now, this little picnic table is the perfect play place for all of the grandkids at my parents house.

How To Restore Rusted Metal Holes, Dents, and Damage

If you have rust holes in the metal to repair, use something like Bondo. Bondo dries hard and strong, it’s even used by mechanics in auto body repair.

I have a tutorial for how to use Bondo to fix damaged wood furniture and the steps are the same with metal. Just mix and apply. Or, just follow the directions on the Bondo container.

Optional: If you want the metal to look perfectly smooth again, you can use a wire wheel on a drill OR an angle grinder to smooth the rusted metal.

DIY Steps for Rusty Metal Table Repair. Works on most outdoor metal furniture too. It's so easy to save that metal furniture from years of rust and weather damage. #rusty #repair #metal #table
Halfway through spraying this rusty outdoor furniture frame.

How to Paint Rusty Metal Furniture

Now, let’s go over how to paint rusty metal furniture.

If you had heavily rusted metal furniture, like I did, start with a good primer for rusty metal, like Rust-oleum Rusty Metal Primer.

If your metal furniture didn’t have much rust, you can skip the separate primer. Use Rust-oleums Universal Paint & Primer in One to give your metal furniture a beautiful new look.

I used 4 or 5 cans total on this small rusty table. Be sure to always follow the instructions and drying guidelines for the spray paint you use.

Before and after picture of restored rusty metal furniture. Text says "10 Best Ways To Restore Rusty Metal. With things in most kitchens and garages".

That’s it! That’s how easy it is to repair and paint rusty metal furniture!


Looking for more easy Home Improvement Projects? Here’s how I clean and whiten my grout when it starts looking too grungy.

How to Whiten Grout with a quick and easy DIY Grout Renew.

Here’s the 5 Best Ways to Remove Dried Citristrip on Furniture and Wood.

Image showing a paint scrapper removing citristrip from a table for a post about 5 ways to remove dried Citristrip on wood, furniture, concrete, and metal.

Or this DIY for How to Restain a Door without Removing it!

You might also like How to Remove Water Stain from Ceiling Without Paint – 1 Easy Step.

Drop the paint brush, guys. There's an easier way to get rig of ugly water stains. Here's How to Remove Water Stain from Ceiling Without Painting! How to Safely Use Bleach to Remove Brown Water Stains or Water Rings on drywall, plaster, or ceiling tiles.

Or this post on the 16 Great Ways to Repurpose an Open Formal Living Room.

Image that says "16 Ways to Repurpose an Open Formal Living Room".

Feeling inspired? Now you know how to paint rusty metal furniture. Have fun and let me know if you have questions.

nicola hopwood

Monday 15th of October 2018

how did you get the rusty bolts off? I am redoing my picnic tables and I am trying to replace the bolts but they are rusted so they just keep spinning and I dont know how to keep the top from spinning so I can loosen them.

Stephanie

Monday 15th of October 2018

Without seeing it, it's hard to say the best way to go. But here are a few ideas. If there aren't any nuts, try hammering from the back side. If they're just spinning the threads or the opening might be rusted enough to hammer the bolt out. Or, if you can cut part of it off with a bolt cutter, that might help. Or, try clamping on to the bolt with strong pliers and pulling while unscrewing. You might need something like a rubber band between the bolt and pliers to make it really hold on tight to that bolt. Or, a drill bit for metal might be the last resort. Maybe a combo of drill bit and bolt cutter. Good luck!!!

JESS44903

Wednesday 11th of October 2017

Great tips! :)

I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

harropaj

Monday 9th of October 2017

What a great job at restoring it to it's former glory and I am the same with sick plants I hate to see them just left and feel the need to rescue them

Stephanie

Monday 9th of October 2017

Thanks! Now that's a real talent. I never feel like I can save a sick plant. :)

acraftymix

Saturday 7th of October 2017

Lovely restore Stephanie. It's amazing what a little elbow grease and time can do. The table will be good for many more years

Stephanie

Sunday 8th of October 2017

Thanks. I’m so glad I spotted it under all the recycling and scrap. :)

Amy@HighstyleRestyle

Friday 6th of October 2017

What a great find a beautiful save!