How to Clean Rust Without Toxic Chemicals

To remove rust from tools without using toxic chemicals, mix 1 part molasses with 9 parts water in a container, then soak the rusty items between several days and two weeks.

The solution breaks down the rust and holds it in suspension. Once the rust has been removed, take the items out, clean them off, and go over them with a wire brush.

Watch the Simple Solution above for details! 

Further Reading


  1. Hi Danny, Jo and Team from Down Under!!

    Love your video diaries and particularly this tip.

    I was wondering if you have large items, (I have a very large wrought iron gate that is rusted) how would I be able to use the molasses method?

    Kind Regards,


    Melbourne, Australia

  2. Hello Learnne, How nice to hear from the other side of the planet. Hope all is well Down Under. This rust-removing technique only works if you can submerge the entire piece and allow it to soak for several days or weeks. So, unless you want to fill your swimming pool with molasses, this tip isn’t practical for rusty gates.

    I’d suggest removing the rust with a couple of power tools, including a right-angle grinder for the long, flat, easily accessible surfaces, and an oscillating multi-tool for harder-to-reach areas. In fact, if the gate isn’t too badly rusted, you might even be able to use a random-orbit sander fitted with 80- or 60-grit abrasive discs.

    Regardless which tools you use, it’ll be a dusty, dirty job, but you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll be able to expose the clean, shiny metal that’s hiding below the corrosion. And remember, you must remove every bit of rust before applying the primer.

    Hope you find this advice helpful. By the way, when I read your email and saw the words “Australia” and “iron gate” I immediately thought of that classic scene from the 1999 Australian hit movie, “The Castle,” where Darryl Kerrigan uses his tow truck to yank the gates off a rival’s home. It’s one of my all-time favorite movies. Anyway, good luck and cheers from all your friends Up Over!–Joe T.

  3. I would love to use this molasses treatment but am skeptical about doing it for my car. Is it feasible for me to remove all under carriage parts and dip them into molasses solution?

  4. Dear POR 15, This molasses tip can be used to remove rust and corrosion from any small metal part, including automotive parts. However, you might want to test this technique on one part to see how it works.

    Just remember that it does take a day or two–or more–for the molasses to work, which might not be practical if you’ve got dozens of parts. Or, if the parts are very large. Anyway, thanks for writing and good luck!–Joe T.

  5. i am restoring my 1964 VW Ghia and would like to clean up the steel rims (no tires on Rims). Would you recomend the Molasses process on the rims?

  6. John, I’m not sure whether or not molasses will remove rim rust, but it’s certainly worth a try since the syrupy solution won’t cause any harm. The challenge is that this tip works best when the rusted piece is completely submerged and allowed to soak for a few days. Car rims–even those of a ’64 Ghia–are pretty big pieces. In any case, thanks for writing and good luck!–Joe T.

  7. I have a really rusty cast iron pot can I leave it under the cleaner for a few days and not do more harm?

    Thanks betty
    winter haven fl

  8. Hi,
    This process of removing rust was taught to me by my Grandfather. He had a 44 gallon drum filled to half molasses & topped up with water after the heaviest item was placed in the drum. We used this drum for well over twenty years.
    Between him, my father & me this technique has restored many rusted parts from full vintage vehicles to right down to small items with ease.
    I only yesterday bought molasses & some long thick PVC piping with caps to restore an old rifle barrel. The results are amazing.
    ????. Your clips are great. Well done.

  9. Hi,
    I have a wrought iron 12” high scroll -looking dog feeder. Due to heavy use in the water bowl from dogs, the black coating is peeling & rusting in various areas. It would seem difficult to get to the scrolls to hand sand it.
    As a woman I have no tools or sanders. I just want to put it in a container & let the rust & peeling fall off! I can respray w/ rustoleum.
    Meanwhile I don’t want dogs to get any rust/ peelings in their mouths!
    Do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks much,

  10. Hello I love to sew and bought an old sewing at a yard sale. I manage to fix the electrical cord and its running but the inside of the sewing machine has some rust and needs machine oil. What do you recommend to clean some of the rust out and I know they sell machine oil. But how do I take some of the rust off the inside to clean it out ? Thanks

    • Hi, Norma,
      We’re not aware of a product that can clean inside without you taking apart the machine and physically removing the rust (such as a wire brush or sandpaper).
      Happy cleaning!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here