Cleaning Garden Tools with Vinegar


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As much as we try to keep tools maintained and free from rust, once in a while the schedule gets tough and tools remain outside. The result is rusted tools that become inefficient over time. Cleaning garden tools with vinegar is the best solution you got to clear such rust and get your tools working efficiently again. 

However, you need the right procedure to effectively use vinegar in clearing away the rust from your tools. You shall find it all below. 

How Does Vinegar Clean Garden Tools? 

Cleaning Garden Tools with Vinegar1

Vinegar contains acetic acid which makes it a good cleaner. This acetic acid works to clear deposits, minerals grease, and other substances leaving your tools clean. When you place rusty tools in vinegar, the acid removes rust to clean your products.  

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Steps of Cleaning Garden Tools with Vinegar 

Cleaning Garden Tools with Vinegar 1

Clear dirt from the tools 

If the tool you want to clear rust from is covered with rust, it shall prevent the acid in vinegar from reaching and working on the rust. Therefore, clean all the dirt from your tool to let all the rust get exposed.  

Use a scrub to wash all the dirt from your tools. Using warm water shall help you get the dirt out faster and better. 

Make a water-vinegar mixture 

Pur water in a container and add an equal amount of vinegar then mix well. Depending on the type of tools you want to clean, you can go for a medium to a large container.

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Soak tools 

Gather the tools you want to clean and after removing dirt as directed before, dip them in the solution. Let the tools stay overnight to allow the acid to eat up the rust. Soaking the tools overnight let the process be easy and less laborious.  

Scrub the tools 

Next, you can now scrub the tools to remove the now loose rust. Make circular scrubs for minimal damage to the tools. Scrub thoroughly and ensure all the possible rust to remove it off. After this, use a piece of cloth and fresh vinegar to wipe the tools. 

Clean the tools 

Now it’s time to clean your tools. Only do this after complete scrubbing and removing all the rust possible. In another container, fill water and add a little soap solution. Wash your tools using this solution to clean out all the rust deposits. 

Rinse the tools in clean water and go on to put them out in the sun to dry completely. In case there is no sun, you can use a quality rinsing rag Apply oil on them to avoid future rusting. 

Avoid future rust 

You do not want to repeat such a tiresome long task again, it is good to prevent your tools from rust. Apply oil generously on the metal parts of the tools to keep them rustproof. Also, exercise better tool storage methods including a garden store or even garage. 

Remember, not any oil works for oiling garden tools, avoid petroleum-based oils since whenever they are introduced to the soil in your garden, they degrade it. 

Avoid leaving your garden tools outside at any cost. Every time you are done using your tools, never leave them with dirt. Leaving your tools outside with dirt increases the chances of rusting. 

Always apply some oil immediately after sharpening your tools to keep them moisture-proof and therefore rust-resistant. 

After washing your tools, never keep them while dumping. Ensure you put them out in the sun to dry completely. In case there is no sun, you can wipe your tools dry. Any moisture no matter how little it might be causes your tools to rust while in-store. 

In the store, avoid keeping your tools on the floor. Some floors get damp and might provide the water needed for rusting to take place on your tools. Therefore, hang your tools on the walls or somewhere above the ground. 

Related: Natural Bug Repellent for Plants Vinegar

Does Vinegar Sterilize Garden Tools? 

As much as vinegar dies well in removing rust, it is not effective in sterilizing. Most people advise on using vinegar to sterilize, however, vinegar isn’t strong enough to kill microbes from your tools. Therefore, vinegar isn’t the right bet for sterilizing. 

Precautions to Take 

Understand vinegar reaction 

Vinegar does not react well with all metals. For tools made from steel, they shall be just okay. However, enamel cast iron and stainless steel might corrode with exposure to vinegar. 

Wear protective gear 

Vinegar is acidic, do not perform this exercise without getting gloves that are chemical resistant to hard your hands. Keep your face away, consider wearing a face mask to protect your eyes. Vinegar has a strong smell and you should keep away if you have allergies to smell. 

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Other Methods to Clean Garden Tools 

Paint scraper 

You can still use a paint scraper. A paint scraper isn’t as good as cleaning garden tools with vinegar but shall get a good amount of rust from your garden tools. All you need to do is get a paint scraper and scrape off the rust. Steel wool works just fine like a paint scraper. 

Commercial rust removers 

If you have too many tools to clean, then mixing a water-vinegar solution for them might be a daunting task. Commercial rust removers perform the task on a large scale and shall help you save more time. Vinegar still does way better than commercial rust removers but on a small scale. 

Baking soda 

Baking soda rarely misses out on DIY cleaning at home. This time, it can get that rust off your tools, all you need to do is mix it with water to get a paste. Smear the paste on your garden tools and let them stay for a few hours. Use a brush to remove the paste and rust and you have your clean tools again. 


Cleaning garden tools with vinegar is a natural and easy DIY tool cleaning method. Vinegar and water, which are the needed inputs, can be easily found at home. Whenever you accidentally have rust on your tools, follow the above guide and you’re sorted. 

We included a few more ways to clear rust from your tools and ways of preventing the tools from rusting. 

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Last update on 2024-05-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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