How to clean tools with vinegar.

Here's a little tip about cleaning your garden tools, or any tools for that matter.

Left uncared for, tools can sometimes develop rust and when this starts, if it's not nipped in the bud can end up ruining the tool altogether. Rust is iron oxide and is formed when iron or any of its alloys such as steel reacts with oxygen and water. This can mean that if your steel tools are stored wet or left outside rust can set in and potentially disintegrate the steel into nothing.

To stop the reaction and get rid of the rust we can use a common household chemical in the form of white distilled vinegar. This vinegar is extremely cheap and easy to get hold of, it is essentially acetic acid at a concentration of around 5-8% and has an interesting reaction with rust.

You can turbo-charge the process by adding household salt to the mix if you want. You would need to add about 1 cup of salt to 5 litres of vinegar. To clean your tools you will need the following:

- A container made of preferably plastic or glass.

- Some white distilled vinegar.

- Salt if so inclined


Place your tools in the container and cover completely with the white vinegar.

At this stage add the salt and mix it in.

You now need to let them soak for at least one hour. If you can leave them longer the cleaning effect will be more effective. Some people have reported leaving them for weeks and some even 19 months, but who’s got that amount of time!? I would try for at least 12 hrs or even a day if possible.

Now take the tools out and give them a scrub with a cloth, scourer or even wire wool if you think it needs it.

If you find that the rust still remains then you can repeat the process until gone.

This is a great technique. It’s easy, quick, cheap and uses environmentally friendly chemicals that are readily available.. Perhaps get into the habit of doing this once a year for all your hand tools to keep them lasting a lifetime.

1. Put your tools in a container and fill to cover with vinegar
2. Leave to soak as long as possible - minimum 12hrs
3. Scrub all the rust off the tool using a brush or wire wool

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