How to clean magnet fishing finds and rusty metal.

A photo of some rusty metal

If you have ever wanted to know how to successfully clean rusty metal then this is the guide for you. I am going to show you the best way to clean your magnet fishing finds or any rusty metal in general.

How to clean magnet fishing finds and rusty metal.

So you have just been magnet fishing and have pulled out an interesting find. One thing you will find is that it is always in bad shape. Water and a whole other load of corrosive cause oxidisation and corrosion to form on the outer surface. This slowly eats away at the metal underneath. You cannot reverse the already rusted metal but you can remove the rot and save what is left. One of the best rust removers is something you more than likely have at home. This guide will show you exactly how to clean rusty metal at home without any specialist equipment.

Why does metal rust?

Not all metals rust. Whilst many of them can tarnish and discolour generally only iron and its alloys such as steel will rust. Rust is created due to the oxidisation of iron. The problem is that iron readily reacts with oxygen and moisture in the air. Or in the case of magnet fishing finds the water in a river or lake!

If iron is left untreated it will eventually completely disintegrate although this will take a long time. Usually, rust and oxidisation can be stopped by coating the iron by either galvanising or painting.

The best way to clean rusty metal.

Now this guide is not taking into consideration some prized antique made of iron or steel. We are focusing on rusty magnet fishing finds or other low value rusty metal. If you have something priceless that needs cleaning always employ a professional to clean it up.

Step 1: Use a wire brush to scrub off heavy rust.

A photo of a wire brush and dust mask
You need a wire brush and a dust mask.

By trade, I am a metal worker and whenever I have rusty metal to repair and weld up I always start with this step.

I use a stiff wire brush and vigorously scrub at the affected metal once it is dry. By doing this you will remove the vast majority of rust. This is an important step to stop the rust from developing even further. I strongly recommend that you wear a disposable dust mask for this process. The rust dust and its compounds are not good for breathing in!

As soon as you have got rid of all the excessive corrosion and rust you can move to step two.

Step 2: Remove leftover rust.

Now that you have removed the main bulk of rust you should be left with a smooth piece of metal albeit still a rusty brown colour.

Next up you should use a dry old cloth or towel and give it a rub on the iron. This will remove any of the rust particles and dust after wire brushing.

Once this is done we can apply our rust eating solution. The solution is made up of white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar is perfect for eating away at the surface rust. Apply the vinegar all over the affected area and dependant on size and leave for around one hour. After an hour has passed you can check to see the progress. If most of the rust is gone you can move to step three. If the rust is still present repeat step two.

A photo of a bottle of white vinegar
Use household white vinegar to clean the remaining rust.

Step 3: Final clean and seal.

You should find that you are left with a pretty bare bit of iron now. There will be some putting to the surface metal, this is where the rust has partially eaten into it.

We can now use a metal scouring pad to remove any final rust and this should give the surface a little shine. Now we leave the iron to dry out and once dry give another clean with a dry rag or towel.

In the last step we want toseal our metal to make sure that the process of oxidisation does not continue. I find the best household items for this job is WD-40 or any other moisture inhibiting spray lubricant. There are other oils we can use but WD-40 works great. Just give the surface a decent spray and let it dry. The WD-40 draws out any leftover moisture from the metal surface and stops more from getting in.

Also if you want to make it look pretty you could pain the surface in a decent metal paint such as Hammerite. This will provide great future protection to the metal b stopping moisture and oxygen from making contact.

A photo of a tin of wD-40A simple can of WD-40 will help to seal and protect your metal from further oxidisation.

In conclusion…

I really hope this guide has shown you how easy it is to clean your magnet fishing finds. Or even how to clean rust from metal in general. It is a technique that I have been using for quite some time and it never fails. If you have any of your own tips and techniques be sure to let me know in the comments section.



About Andy 18 Articles
Andy has been a prominent figure in the treasure hunting world for coming up to a decade on various platforms such as YouTube and blogger. On Magnet Fishing Pro he has shared his wealth of knowledge and experience in the form of guides and blog posts to help you progress in the hobbies of magnet fishing and metal detecting. You can read more about Andy's treasure hunting journey on the About Me page