How to Keep Your Tools Free of Rust | WD-40

How to Keep Your Tools Free of Rust

How to Keep Your Tools Free of Rust

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We’ve all done it. At some point or another, a tool gets left out overnight after a long day’s work or forgotten in the yard when multitasking. Screwdrivers, plyers, scissors and shovels can all suffer the same fate by falling victim to rust. While many metal tools are afflicted by rust at some point over the years, a little care and attention can bring these implements back into good working order without too much hassle. Read on below for some tips on how to restore rusty tools and metal objects to an adequate or even excellent condition.

On Rust

Rust forms when oxygen and water or moisture reacts with exposed iron and its alloys. Iron oxide (or iron hydrate) gathers on the surface of the metal and overtime can cause serious deterioration and degradation to the material. Rust commonly appears as ruddy red in color but (depending on the alloy or other metals present) can also be yellow, brown, orange, and even green. The word “rust” however refers to the oxidation of iron, while other reactions of oxygen and water on metals can have different terms such as “tarnish” for silver.

Problems with Rust

A few words on rust from Jonathan Waldman in Rust: The Longest War:

"Rust has knocked down bridges, killing dozens, it's killed at least a handful of people at nuclear power plants, nearly cause reactor meltdowns, and challenged those storing nuclear waste. It has shut down the largest oil pipelines, rendered military jets and ships unfit for service, and torn apart the fuselage of a commercial plane mid flight."

Rust has the power to cause serious harm if left uncontrolled in the wrong areas. The cases mentioned by Waldman may not apply to the tools in your shed, but the rust will come for them nevertheless. Tools afflicted by rust can often be salvaged and restored, but if left untreated they can become brittle, broken, and even dangerous. The lifespan of metal materials and devices is greatly affected by the creeping presence of rust and rusty tools also have a sloppy and unprofessional appearance.

Preventative Care

The best case scenario with rust is to avoid letting it set hold on your tools entirely. offers three primary ways to avoid rust:

  • Keep your stuff dry
  • Use high quality paints when applicable and touch up dings
  • Oil tools regularly

Keep your tools dry by paying attention to how they are stored, taking care to put them away, and be mindful of the environments where you are using them. If a tool, object, or material needs paint to keep rust away, use the right paint for the job and watch out for dings and scratches where rust can set in. Oiling your tools is a great way to keep rust away, and WD-40® Multi Use Product offers superior performance solutions for just such occasions. This classic formula was originally designed to ensure rockets didn’t rust while waiting to launch, and it works wonders keeping tools in your shop or shed from rusting as well.

Restoring Rusty Tools

Once rust has reared its ugly head, don’t give up. You can restore your tools to working condition several different ways. Using WD-40 Brand Products, apply the multi-use formula with a rag or wire brush (when needed) and some elbow grease to abrade away the oxidized material. Steel wool can also be helpful in some circumstances. For tools and items that can be submerged, WD-40 Specialist® Rust Remover Soak quickly dissolves rust and restores tools, equipment, and surfaces to bare metal without excess rubbing and brushing. This non-acidic formula safely removes rust by reacting with the material to draw the oxidized particles away without using harsh chemicals.


Pro Tip:

For metal surface areas that may be susceptible to rust, try WD-40 Specialist Gel Lube. It protects against rust and surface corrosion up to 6X longer than the competition* on horizontal, vertical, and inverted surfaces with a thick, no-drip formula.

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WD-40 Specialist® Gel Lube

WD-40 Specialist® Gel Lube

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