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How to Clean Rusty Garden Tools for Pennies

These natural cleaning hacks will keep you from buying new lawn tools.


No need to invest in pricey new trowels and shears to keep your patch of green growing. These easy tips for how to clean rusty garden tools will revitalize them fast, helping your garden — and your bottom line-flourish!

Lift rust on tools with a ketchup mix.

Ketchup and Borax create a chemical reaction that will banish rust spots on your favorite garden tools, promises Witz. Just fill a spray bottle with water and sprinkle in 2 Tbs. of Borax, then shake well. Use it to spray your tools, then cover them with a thick layer of ketchup and let sit for two hours. Rinse with water and dry them with a rag. “Your tools will be gleaming like new.”

Clean your spreader with baking soda.

Acidic fertilizer tends to clump and clog the rotary of your spreader, where it can also eat away at the mechanism’s blades. To prevent that from happening, just hose down the spreader after each use, then sprinkle it liberally with baking soda, which helps neutralize the acid from any remaining fertilizer and coats the blades in a powder that repels corrosive elements for the next time you use it.

Keep your mower running with white vinegar.

After a few summers of use, your lawn mower isn’t cutting as well as it used to. The likely culprit: built-up grass on the blades. To remove stuck-on gunk, spritz them with a bit of white vinegar, says Gladys Connelly, gardening expert for “Let it sit for a few hours, and the grime should wipe right off.” Once the blades are clean, spray them with nonstick cooking spray to form a slippery seal that prevents gunk from building back up.

Repair a leaky hose with this tape.

Hose suddenly sprouted leaks? You don’t need to invest in a new one, or even in a hose repair kit. Just grab a roll of electrical tape. “Once applied, its flexible structure will conform to your hose without allowing water to seep through,” says Erinn Witz, co-founder of “Just clean off any dirt or debris from the surface, then allow the hose to fully dry before applying tape. Roll it from about an inch before the hole to an inch after it to really cover the leak, and you’re done.”

Sharpen shears fast with aluminum foil.

Dull shears can make pruning a pain. The DIY solution: “I sharpen my trimmers with aluminum foil,” says Connelly. “First, fold a sheet of foil in half a few times, then cut it up with your shears-the thin metal edges of the foil will hone the blades. It really does the trick!”

This article originally appeared in our print magazineWoman’s World.

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