Easy Methods To Remove Rust from Knives With Household Items

Posted by Steve Jones on

How to remove rust from your knives with items at home

Each of the below ‘home’ methods can be used in conjunction with one another or repeated for particularly rusty blades. After removing the big chunk of rust, we still recommend purchasing and re-sharpening the blade with a natural or a synthetic sharpening stone after any method to ensure a sharp and a safe blade.

Method no. 1 – The Baking Soda

baking soda clean rust knife

You will need the following materials:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • A toothbrush
  • Steel wool (or sponge)
  • A cloth

1. Clean Your Knife

The first thing you need to do is to thoroughly clean the blade of your knife because dirt can interfere with the removal of rust. Try to avoid water because (surprise,  surprise) that’s what mostly made your knife rust. Instead, use some sort of cleaning solution and wipe it down with a cloth.

2. Create baking soda paste

Now we’ll get to baking. Just kidding. Create a little bit of baking soda paste. You can pour a fair amount of baking soda into a bowl and add some water or lemon juice if you’re feeling creative. Stir it up until it becomes a paste.

3. Scrub with toothbrush

Apply the thick paste on a toothbrush and liberally speed it across the blade. You can scrub only with the toothbrush if the rust isn’t too severe or set in.

4. Use steel wool or an semi-abrasive sponge

For extremely rusty blades, you’ll need a little more abrasion to help remove the rust. If you don’t have a sharpening stone with a lower grit (600-1000), a steel wool is commonly recommended though it can mess up your blade if you scrub too hard. Another alternative is a slightly abrasive sponge. Be careful not to scrub too hard because you can scratch the blade or ruin the finish. Especially when it’s a Japanese knife with engraved in kanji/katakana name of the blacksmith. You would not like to remove it, would you?
5. Wipe the blade clean
Finally, clean off the blade with a piece of cloth to remove the excessive baking powder. If you want to be really good to your blade, you can apply some mineral oil afterward to make sure it’s lubricated and protected from rust in the future.

Method no. 2 – The Vinegar Bath

vinegar how to clean rusty knife
You will need the following materials:

  • Pan or a cup
  • White Vinegar (apple vinegar will do also)
  • A sponge
  • A cloth

1. Pour vinegar into a cup or pan

Be sure to use white vinegar, which contains a substance called acetic acid that will attack the rust. Other types of vinegar may leave stains.

2. Soak the rusty knife

If you don’t want to soak the whole blade (or knife), you can also soak a paper towel in the vinegar and wrap it around the blade. Only leave the knife it for about five minutes. Any longer and you risk damaging your blade.

3. Wipe down the blade

After it’s done soaking, you’ll want to wipe down the blade. At this point, you may still want to do the baking soda or WD-40 method if there is still a little rust.

Method no. 3 – WD-40

WD-40 can help clean rust on knifeCredit: Consumables magazine

You will need the following materials:

  • WD-40
  • A fine sandpaper,
  • A cloth

We recommend this method for a larger knife like a machete or a knife you won’t be using for food preparation since WD-40 can be harmful if ingested. But it’s a quick and effective method of rust removal. Don’t use it for lubricant.

1. Spray WD-40 on the blade

This step needs little explanation. Spray the affected parts of the blade with a spritz of WD-40.

2. Gently sand the blade

You’ll want to use very fine sandpaper (think 400) to gently get the rust off the blade. Make sure not to touch the edge or you’re liable to mess it up.

3. Wipe it down

That should be enough to do it. If the rust is heavier, you may want to do one of the two previous methods. Again, avoid if you’re doing any food prep with the knife.

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