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DIY: Cleaning Rusty Metal

Day One of my DIY Art Wagon Project was all cleaning and scrubbing! There’s a lot of rust going on here, and a bunch of different ways of dealing with it, based on where it is and what’s going on later.

First: The rust on the actual wagon body needs to be removed and the metal cleaned because I’m planning on priming and painting over it. Along the outside corners, there were a lot of large rough rust spots. For these I found that a wire brush was the easiest and most effective. In the after shot, you can see the metal shining through, but the red tinge is gone. (click photos to blow up)

Tutorial for Cleaning Rusty Metal - Wire Brush | DIY Art Wagon Project | 9000things

The bed had smaller rust spots uniformly across the whole surface. The wire brush was pretty much useless here, so I switched to 100 grit sandpaper, which worked beautifully! Again, you’re aiming to get rid of the redness, it will still look kind of crappy after you sand it…

Tutorial for Cleaning Rusty Metal - Sandpaper | DIY Art Wagon Project | 9000things

Finally, around where the wheels are on the wagon, there was some greyish oxidation which didn’t look like rust exactly but was texturing the surface of the metal. I had a hunch that Simple Green would scrub that right off, and it worked! You’re going to want to use that cleaning solution on the whole shebang at this point… We need the surface to be dust/oil/dirt free and bone dry before spray priming.

Tutorial for Cleaning Rusty Metal - Simple Green | DIY Art Wagon Project | 9000things

The last place that there was a lot of rust was on the wheel rims. I looked all over the internet and didn’t really find a great answer for how to clean it off. So I asked my bff’s bike expert boyfriend. He recommended spraying the rims with WD-40, letting it set for a minute and then steel wooling everything away.

Tutorial for Cleaning Rusty Metal - Steel Wool | DIY Art Wagon Project | 9000things

OMG, rust cleaning porn!

Pro tip. Do all the rust removal, cleaning and priming in one day. Otherwise rust starts to regenerate and you’ll find yourself fighting the dumbest battle ever. Primer info coming soon!

For my pinners out there! Here’s a compact graphic:

Kinds of Rust and How to Remove Them | 9000things

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