A Quick & Easy Way to Clean Dirt Grease & Rust Off of Tools

A Quick & Easy Way to Clean Dirt Grease & Rust Off of Tools. Since quality tools are investments, keeping them adequately maintained is important. Tools inevitably become dirty with each use, sometimes acquiring grease as well. Damp soil can cling to gardening tools, such as trowels and pruning shears, causing rust to develop. Dirt, grease and rust ruin a tool's shiny appearance and reduce its efficiency. Properly caring for tools not only preserves their aesthetic appeal, but significantly increases their lifespan as well. Promptly clean dirt, grease and rust from tools using quick and simple techniques.

Weather exposure causes tools to rust.

Things Needed

  • Protective eye goggles
  • Heavy-duty gloves
  • Wire brush
  • Fine steel wool
  • Mineral spirits
  • 1/2-cup table salt
  • Container
  • 1/2-cup of lemon juice
  • Spoon
  • Clean towels
  • Clean rag
  • Boiled linseed oil

Step 1

Don protective eye goggles to keep fragments of dirt and rust from flying into your eyes. Wear heavy-duty gloves to guard your hands against sharp metal.

Step 2

Scrub loose dirt and rust off the tool with a wire brush. Detach as much crusted material from the metal as possible.

Step 3

Drench fine steel wool in mineral spirits. Scrub the tool with the drenched steel wool to clean off lingering grease and dirt.

Step 4

Rinse the detached grime and mineral spirits off the tool with water. Lay the tool aside while you prepare the homemade rust remover.

Step 5

Sprinkle 1/2-cup of table salt into a container. Fill the container with 1/2-cup of lemon juice. Mix the homemade solution well.

Step 6

Saturate clean fine-grit steel wool in the homemade mixture. Scrub the saturated steel wool over the tool's rust spots in circular motions. Table salt's abrasiveness combined with lemon juice's acidic nature removes rust.

Step 7

Continue scrubbing the tool with the steel wool and homemade mixture until you completely remove the rust.

Step 8

Rinse the rust-free tool with fresh water. Thoroughly dry the tool with clean towels.

Step 9

Moisten a clean rag with boiled linseed oil. Rub the oil over the tool to prevent rusting. Store the tool indoors.


  • Substitute soapy water for the mineral spirits.


  • Wire brushes can scratch painted tools, causing rusting.


  • Cornell University Cooperative Extension: Caring for Your Tools
  • "Danny Lipford"; How to Remove Rust From Tools Naturally; Joe Truini
  • "House Task"; Removing And Preventing Rust; Jim Sulski