Rust is a natural part of aging when it comes to our cookware, furniture, and other metal items, but it can be a real pain to remove. Scrubbing doesn’t always work and often the rust ends up coming back faster than before. Rust can eat through the metals it oxidizes so it’s extremely important to get the rust off your household items and keep it off.
Taking Out Rust Quickly: Vinegar
Vinegar is the most highly recommended solution to deal with rust and cookware for two reasons. The first is practical: acid destroys rust, and vinegar contains up to 10% acetic acid, making it an effective rust removal tool. The second reason vinegar is good for cookware is that it is vinegar, and therefore it will have no negative effects on using your cookware since vinegar is a common cooking item.
The most common way to use vinegar to clean off the rust is with a scrubbing sponge, but soaking in a vinegar solution is also common. Often, people try to use steel wool or metal-bristled brushes on rust. This is not a good idea if the rust is deep. While such items will scrape off the rust, they can also cause further damage to any exterior protective coatings on surfaces and actually cause rust to develop more quickly the second time around.
Salt and Lemon: Another Great Alternative
Another common way to remove rust is by salting the rusty item and then using lemon juice on it. Lemons are extremely acidic, and when combined with salt, they have been shown to be effective many times in beating rust. Once the rusted area has been soaked in lemon juice for a while, you can use the inside of a lemon rind as a natural scrubber instead of a sponge to remove the rust. Since salt works well with vinegar too, this natural solution is most common for people who don’t like the smell of vinegar.
Soda: It’s Not Just a Tasty Beverage
Few people realize that one of the most common ways to remove rust is in your handy soda pop. A certain soda having made this fact sort of famous (it rhymes with “Loca Lola”), sodas often have both citric and trace amounts of phosphoric acid in them, making them effective rust removers when that can of rust remover has gone missing. Most commonly used for rusty screws that get stuck, soda is a very good and fast rust remover in general.
How to Keep Rust Away
Once the rust is gone, it’s important to know how to keep it from coming back. The biggest change you can make to keep indoor items like cookware rust-free is simply making sure they’re dry. Drying items keeps excess water from oxidizing metal.
If you have outdoor items that can’t be brought in, it’s a smart idea to make sure to spray or treat them with a rust-protective primer during good weather so that those items will be sufficiently protected. While new outdoor items often have protective coatings, over time those coatings will begin to dissolve, which it’s why it’s best to re-coat these metal items on a regular basis, whether annually or every two years.