Also known as iron oxide, rust is not only an aesthetic nuisance, but it can weaken the strength of metal materials. Sometimes it can even encourage the growth of harmful bacteria that can lead to tetanus. Out of all these, the most common reason to use a rust remover is for looks. For instance, your favorite pair of pliers comes into contact with moisture and starts to rust.
Buy the right rust remover and make your metal sparkle again without damaging any of your tools or machinery.
No matter your reason for rust removal, a quality rust remover not only does the trick, but does so quickly, easily, safely, and with minimal clean up afterward. Here’s how to buy the best rust remover available.
Quick Look: 5 Best Rust Removers
No need to beat around the bush – let’s jump right into the five best rust removers. Although each of these accomplishes the task in a slightly different way, they’re all affordable, versatile, and get the job done right. Here are the five best rust removers on the market:
1. Evapo-Rust Remover
The Evapo-Rust Rust Remover is one of the most popular rust removers on the market. It gets the job done and gets it done right. Simply submerge your rusted object into this solution and the rust will be gone in no time at all.
This rust remover is completely safe to use. It’s non-toxic and biodegradable. Although you should wear gloves while using it, this product is safe for your skin and even your eyes. Evapo-Rust works quickly and efficiently. Even one application should treat the majority of rust problems. For heavily rusted items, a longer soak time is required. In fact, we recommend soaking any objects for at least one hour for the best results.
What We Like:
What We Don’t Like:
- Requires at least an hour soak
2. CLR Calcium Rust Lime Remover
CLR is one of the most versatile rust removers on the market today. Not only does it treat rust, but it also targets calcium, lime, and a variety of other types of household stains as well. Although it’s created mostly for household uses, CLR also works very well for automotive parts and tools.
In addition, to use on metal surfaces, this product works well on glass, porcelain, ceramic, brick, cement, and much more. CLR also works with the submersion method. Place the rusted object directly into the solution (in a separate container). You can dilute the solution or use it at full strength depending on the project.
What We Like:
- Non-toxic and biodegradable
- Extremely versatile
What We Don’t Like:
- Not best for heavy rust stains
3. Iron Out
Iron Out is a highly effective rust remover that sticks out from its competitors. The chief difference is the application method. You actually apply Iron Out with a spray bottle rather than submersion. The spray feature also produces a thick gel. Rub the gel onto the rust stain and wait. Then wipe the product off.
Not only does Iron Out work surprisingly well for a spray on rust remover, but it’s also incredibly easy and versatile to use. This is a great choice as a household cleaner since the spray function enables you to more easily reach hard-to-access areas.
What We Like:
- Spray on application
- Very versatile
What We Don’t Like:
- Can’t use for objects that require submersion
4. Whink Rust Stain Remover
Whink Rust Stain Remover is a simple product that works like a charm. It works quickly and is easy to use. Just pour a small amount on the rusted surface, scrub, and the stain will come clean in no time. This product also works as a multi-purpose cleaner. It works well for most household cleaning uses, especially cleaning a bathroom or shower.
The product is non-toxic and safe to use. It won’t damage any of your valuable surfaces, including granite or tile countertops. Thanks to its overall versatility, you can even use this product on rust-stained clothing to remove otherwise hard-to-treat stains.
What We Like:
- Fast working
- Versatile application
- Multi-purpose uses
What We Don’t Like:
- More expensive than other products
You can’t talk about rust removal without mentioning WD-40. One of the most versatile products on the market, this rust remover is a staple in anyone’s toolbox. In addition to removing rust, WD-40 is also a penetrating oil. It penetrates deeply to unlock rust-locked objects and lubricates them to prevent rust in the future.
Not only that, but WD-40 is very easy to use. You simply direct the spray straw at the object and spray to apply. Let the lubricant sit for a few moments before wiping clean. Remember that WD-40 isn’t best for heavy-duty rust removal. It works better for smaller scale projects as well as minor rust prevention. For instance, it’s a popular product to apply to a bicycle for rust prevention.
Even though it’s not as effective at removing rust as other products on this list, WD-40 is still a toolbox must-have thanks to its all-around effectiveness and versatility.
What We Like:
- Lots of uses
- Removes and prevents rust
What We Don’t Like
- Not as effective at removing rust as other products
Crash Course: Rust Remover
There’s no denying that rust is a nuisance. It commonly occurs on hand tools, auto parts, antiques, outdoor grill grates, cast iron cookware, and so much more. According to Wonderopolis, rust (the common name for iron oxide) occurs when the iron in metal objects reacts with the oxygen in water or moisture in the air.
Usually, the metal material containing the iron or iron alley must be exposed to both the oxygen and the moisture for a long period of time for rust to appear. Now that you know a little about how rust forms, let’s look at how rust removers work and which characteristics you must look for in these products.
What Is a Rust Remover?
There are a wide variety of types of rust removers as well as different methods. Among the most common methods are sanding/grinding, rust conversion, and direct application. All of the rust removers discussed above fall into the direct application category. You apply them directly to the rusted surface, usually by spraying or wiping them. Another option is to soak the rusted item in the solution. Many rust removers also treat stains other than iron oxide.
For example, almost all of our favorite rust removers work well on a variety of other household stains, such as water stains. All of our top five favorite rust removers are non-toxic. Although some of the most powerful industrial or commercial rust removers are toxic, it’s important for most homeowners to look for a safe, non-toxic product.
Rust Remover Benefits
There are a lot of different reasons to use a rust remover. These include:
- Remove Stains – Removes the rusted stain from the object.
- Prevent Stains – Can help prevent rust from occurring in the future.
- Increase Usability – Sometimes rust limits the function of a tool, auto part, piece of furniture, or another object. Removal of the rust can help increases the function of that object.
In addition to these benefits, the direct application of a rust removal product is typically much cheaper and less time consuming than sanding or grinding the rusted object.
Types of Rust
You might think there’s only one type of rust – but that’s not the case. Identifying the specific type of rust you’re dealing with will help you select the correct rust remover for the job. Here are the main types of rust:
- Flaking – Often found in a thick layer near the transition of an object.
- Flash – Occurs from water contact in a single, direct spot on an object.
- Pitting – Occurs in cavities of an object (such as a hinge on a pair of pliers) where moisture is trapped.
- Stable – Uniform in appearance and occurring over a longer period of time, often covers the entire object.
Remember that most rust removers also help fight other types of common stains, such as water stains in bathtubs and showers.
How to Use a Rust Remover
There are a lot of different ways to use a rust remover. Start by reading the manufacturer directions on the product packaging. Many products can be used straight away as they come while others require dilution for the best effects. Typically, the next step involves applying the rust remover directly to the rusted object.
Scrub the area with a brush or rag. Wipe the area free of rust and rinse with water. Continue to repeat these steps until the rust is gone. For serious rust, it’s often more effective to fill a receptacle with the solution. Then soak the rusted object in the solution for 10 minutes or more before rinsing with water. Remember to completely dry the rust-free object before storage. You might also consider applying a penetrating oil or similar lubricant to prevent rust from occurring in the future.
Rust Remover Buying Guide
Here are a few of the most important factors to keep in mind while looking at which rust remover to buy:
- Application Type – These products are available as sprays, gels, liquids, and more.
- Ingredients – Most homeowners prefer a product that’s non-toxic for the safety of their family and pets.
- Duration – How long does the product take to work?
- Effectiveness – Will a single coat of the product be effective? Or will you need to apply multiple coats?
- Size – Rust removers are available in a variety of sizes from less than 16 ounces up to more than a gallon.
Remaining mindful of all of these factors during the buying process will help you buy the right rust remover for you.
Best Rust Remover Brands
A wide variety of rust removers are available to buy. Like most of the best DIY tools, it’s often best to select a product made by a reliable, reputable brand with a long track record among happy customers. Here are five of the best rust remover brands:
Evapo-Rust is among the most popular rust remover brands in North America. The company is most notable for its commitment to safety. All of its products are not only safe for humans and pets, but for the environment as well. In addition to their rust removers, they also sell rust block which prevents rust as well as a removal flush for automobile cooling systems.
Rust-Oleum has been in the rust removal business since 1921. Since their inception, they’ve gained popularity around the world for their high-quality products that include a wide variety of cleaners and stain removers designed for homes, automobiles, and more. Their “Krud Kutter” line contains their most popular rust removers.
You can’t talk about rust removal without a mention of WD-40. This popular penetrating oil and water displacement product is a staple in homes and businesses around the world. Another common use is rust removal. According to the company, their multi-use product has more than 1,000 uses total.
Unrust is a rust removal and prevention manufacturer. Their heavy-duty products are designed to eliminate and prevent the toughest rust stains on home appliances, tools, auto parts, and so much more. Based out of Tennessee, the company maintains excellent customer service with hundreds of satisfied customers.
CLR Brands makes a wide range of household cleaning products. For more than 50 years, the company has remained dedicated to creating and developing the best cleaning products for a wide range of applications and solutions. In addition to their CLR (calcium, lime, and rust) remover, they also sell special BBQ grill cleaner, bath and kitchen cleaner, outdoor furniture cleaner, and more.
Here are the answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions about rust removers:
Q: How to use a rust remover?
A: Start by reading the directions on the manufacturer packaging. From there, ensure that you dilute the solution if needed. Apply to the rusted material, scrub, then rinse off. This YouTube video from Slivki Show shows the process in more detail.
Q: Which rust remover is right for me?
A: The right rust remover for you depends on the type of object you in question. Although some products have multiple-uses, others have more specialized applications, such as household cleaning or automotive parts.
Q: How much rust remover do I need for my project?
A: It takes far less rust remover to efficiently move rust than you might think. Even 16 ounces is more than enough for most projects, although some rust removers are available in one gallon or larger containers.
Q: What is the difference between a rust converter and a rust remover?
A: A rust remover strips a material of rust while a rust converter uses natural methods to convert the rust into an inert substance. This YouTube video from Gempler’s compares the two similar products in more detail.
Q: How do I remove rust without damaging a painted surface?
A: The most important thing you can do is to select the right product and follow the manufacturer directions to a T. This guide from Hunker breaks down the process in more detail.
You’re sure to be happy with any of our top five rust removers. Each and every one of them is easy to use, performs well on a variety of surfaces, and is affordable to boot. That said, the clear standout is Iron Out.
As a rust removal spray, this was slightly surprising compared to full-strength liquid rust removers that you can actually dip rusted products into. But Iron Out performed well in every category. The powerful spray gel dissolves rust on first contact with little, if any, scrubbing required.
Not only does it work well on tools, auto parts, and metal surfaces, but it’s also the most efficient option for home surfaces such as the bathroom, kitchen, and even rusted carpet. Coming in second place as the clear runner up is CLR.
Short for Calcium Lime Rust, this versatile rust remover is capable of efficiently cleaning a wide variety of surfaces, including stainless steel, glass, cement, brick, fiberglass, and much more.
One nice thing about CLR is that it’s a full-strength solution. You can either mix it with water (the recommended dilution level is 50% CLR, 50% water) or use it at its 100% full-strength. Diluted is best for home applications while full-strength is best for nuts and bolts as well as tools.
Finally, we have to give one last nod to WD-40. Since it’s not a dedicated rust remover, it’s not as efficient as Iron Out or CLR, but it still works well for most applications. Plus, it has a variety of other uses, including as a penetrating oil, that make it among the most versatile products reviewed above. Keep a can of WD-40 in your toolbox and you’ll surely be thankful. No matter the exact rust remover you end up selecting, you can’t go wrong with any of the top five products from above. What rust remover will you use to bring items back to life? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.