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Does WD-40 Remove Rust? Alternatives, Facts, & FAQ


Rust is a widespread problem for all things metal, and it can become quite frustrating, especially if it gets on your favorite tools or household items. Not only does it look bad, but it’s also damaging to the item and jeopardizes its function.

While some people immediately throw away rusty items, others try to salvage them using various rust removers. That’s where WD-40 comes into the picture.

WD-40 is a multi-purpose product found in homes throughout the US. Most people use it to lubricate things around their household, protect metal items from corrosion and rust, and displace moisture. Some people even use it to remove rust.

But is WD-40 a suitable rust remover?

Read on to learn more about rust, how it occurs, why you should remove it, and if WD-40 is the best product to use when removing stubborn rust stains.

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What Is Rust and How Does It Occur?

Rust is a common compound known as iron oxide, representing a form of corrosion. It occurs on various materials, such as:

  • Cast iron
  • Wrought iron
  • Steel
  • Carbon steel
  • Stainless steel

Rust forms when iron or materials containing iron come in contact with water and oxygen. Rusting is a process that happens over time, and the more oxygen and water reach an iron surface, the quicker it’ll form rust.

Other factors, such as humidity, also affect the formation of rust, making it develop quicker than usual.

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Why Should You Remove Rust from Metal?

close up of rusty chains
Image By: Miguel Á. Padriñán, Pexels

Rust affects any surface that it appears on not in a positive way. It can jeopardize the functionality of your metal items, lower their lifespan or make them unsafe. Here are some of the most important reasons why you should remove rust from metal surfaces:

  • Leaving rust on a metal surface will cause deterioration over time
  • Rusty objects lose their efficiency
  • Rusty objects look unappealing and dirty
  • Rust weakens metal bonds and affects the structural integrity of the rusty item
  • Rusty surfaces are unsafe and could cause various health problems if you get cut or hurt
  • Rusty objects are doomed to become unusable unless you remove the rust
  • Rusty objects have a short lifespan
  • Removing rust from metal is much more budget-friendly than buying new tools or other metal items you might need

Does WD-40 Remove Rust?

WD-40 close up
Image By: Safarov Nariman, Shutterstock

WD-40 has various uses, and one of them is to remove rust. In fact, the company that produces WD-40 offers several different products that help eliminate rust and prevent it from occurring.

You may be wondering which WD-40 products are the best for removing rust. Typically, most people use the regular multi-purpose WD-40, although other options are:

  • WD-40 specialist rust remover soak
  • WD-40 specialist corrosion inhibitor

When it comes to regular WD-40, it’s a suitable rust remover as it works well for various surfaces and loosens the bond between the metal surface and rust, allowing it to come off.

However, some rusty stains may be stubborn, so you could also turn to other WD-40 products designed specifically for eliminating rust.

WD-40 Specialist Rust Remover Soak

WD-40 specialist rust remover soak is a great product for removing rust and preventing it from recurring. Per the WD-40 company, this rust-removing solution is non-toxic and biodegradable.

This product is appealing because you can use it for multiple tools or items at once, allowing you to remove rust quickly and efficiently. While the chemicals inside this solution dissolve rust, they shouldn’t affect or harm paint, trims, or any surrounding parts of the items.

WD-40 Specialist Corrosion Inhibitor

The WD-40 company also offers a product called WD-40 specialist corrosion inhibitor. It’s an anti-rust spray you can use for various surfaces to prevent rust from occurring. This product is beneficial for people who want to add extra protection to their tools and metal items.

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How To Use WD-40 To Eliminate Rust

hand holding a can of WD-40
Image By: Safarov Nariman, Shutterstock

Using WD-40 to remove rust is a simple process, and you can successfully remove rust stains by following these steps:

  • Spray the solution on the rusty spot, ensuring that it’s completely covered with the WD-40 spray
  • Allow the spray to sit on the rusty surface for 10–15 minutes
  • Use a brush and scrub the area to remove the rust
  • After you remove the rust with a brush, use a cloth to wipe off the surface

After following these steps, the rusty stain should disappear. However, if the stain is still there, you can try using the WD-40 specialist rust remover soak or try other rust removal methods.

If using the WD-40 specialist rust remover soak, you’ll need to follow these steps to eliminate the rusty stains:
  • Pour the WD-40 rust remover soak into a container
  • Get multiple rusty items and place them inside the container, ensuring they’re completely covered with the rust remover soak
  • Depending on the severity of the rust, leave the rusty items in the soak for either 30 minutes, 8 hours, or 24 hours
  • After the soak, remove the items from the container and rinse the rest of the soak off

This process should entirely eliminate rust from your belongings. If the rust is still visible, even after the soak, you may repeat the process until you get to your desired results.

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Are There Any Natural Alternatives To WD-40 For Removing Rust?

While most people typically reach for chemical solutions such as WD-40 to remove rust, there are various natural alternatives that are equally effective but less harmful. As the natural solutions can be quite efficient, it might be better to try them out first and use WD-40 if other rust-removing solutions don’t work.

Below are some excellent natural DIY rust removers you can try out.

1. Vinegar

When dealing with stubborn rusty stains, you can use vinegar to eliminate them. It’s a common product found in most households and is effective for removing rust due to its acidic properties.

Depending on your preference, you can soak the rusty items in vinegar or pour vinegar over the rusty area. Either way, you should allow the vinegar to sit for at least 30 minutes before rinsing it off.

2. Lemon Juice and Salt

lemon and salt
Image By: nicemyphoto, Shutterstock

Another excellent way to remove rust is to use lemon juice and salt. Lemon juice is effective as it has acidic properties, and the salt enhances the dissolving of rust due to its abrasive properties.

To eliminate rust using this DIY solution, you should apply salt to the affected area and pour lemon juice over the rusty stain. You should allow the mixture to sit for a couple of hours and gently scrub the area after the time passes.

Once you finish scrubbing, rinse off the remaining lemon juice and salt, and allow the item to dry.

3. Cola

While this may sound surprising, cola is an excellent tool for removing rusty stains. Cola products contain high amounts of phosphoric acid, which is excellent at dissolving rust.

All you need to do is pour the cola over the rusty stain or soak the item into a container filled with cola, allowing it to sit for 30 minutes. The phosphoric acid will react with the rust, removing it from your belongings quickly and efficiently.

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Final Thoughts

Noticing rust on your tools and other belongings can be worrying, but luckily, if you have a WD-40 around your home, you can use it to remove the rust. One thing to keep in mind is that WD-40 could potentially be toxic, so make sure to use gloves and use it in well-ventilated areas.

Featured Image Credit: Benedek Alpar, Shutterstock


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