How to Remove Rust and Loosen a Rusty Screw

Getting rid of rust can be frustrating. Learn how to remove rust while keeping surfaces free of scratches.

Tips Tools And Techniques

“Tips, Tools, and Techniques” by long-time antiques expert Dr. Georgia Kemp Caraway provides answers to questions about the cleaning and maintenance of common antique and collectible objects, including metal advertising signs, glassware, clothing, and jewelry. Compact yet authoritative, this handbook will appeal to dealers and buyers, as well as everyone with something from Grandma in the attic.

Photo courtesy University of North Texas Press

Content Tools

Removing rust requires a careful balance between getting rid of an ugly brown spot and trying to keep a prized possession free of scratches. Learn how to remove rust and how to loosen a rusty screw in this excerpt from Tips, Tools, and Techniques (University of North Texas Press, 2012) by Georgia Kemp Caraway. 

How to remove rust from metal

• Remove small patches of rust with a typewriter eraser. It removes spots and won’t scratch the surface.

How to remove rust from wrought iron

• Remove rust by rubbing with steel wool and kerosene. If very badly rusted, soak the piece in kerosene, then gently rub it with steel wool.

Loosening a rusty screw

• If you don’t have oil, loosen a rusted bolt or screw with a few drops of any carbonated soft drink. The acid in the soda will break up some of the rust.

• Soak a corroded screw or bolt in vinegar for several days or until the rust begins to dissolve.

More on antique preservation

Learn more about how to take care of your collectibles from Tips, Tools, and Techniques in the following articles.

• How to Care for Paper Collectibles 
• How to Store Photographs 
Antique Restoration Tools 


This excerpt from Tips, Tools, and Techniques to Care for Antiques, Collectibles, and Other Treasures has been reprinted by permission from University of North Texas Press.