Does Distilled White Vinegar Remove Rust?

When trying to get rid of rust, people use various homemade materials which are very cheap and reliable, like distilled white vinegar. Using white vinegar to get rid of rust is called neutralization. And with lots of debate on this topic, does distilled white Vinegar remove rust?

Yes, distilled white Vinegar is suitable for removing rust. White Vinegar is also safe on glass, steel, and cast-iron equipment. 

While distilled white Vinegar has many benefits, rust removal is at the top of its list. Vinegar can remove any rust stains from your tub if you let it sit for several hours overnight. Just ensure that you scrub vigorously as the stain lifts off.

However, several methods can be used to remove rust. Distilled white Vinegar, or acetic acid, has been scientifically shown to dissolve the iron oxide responsible for rust. Also, Vinegar will provide a protective coating around the metal and protect it against further corrosion due to its acidic nature.

Below, you will get to know more about the application of distilled white Vinegar to protect and prevent rust with alternative methods of removing rust.

What Is White Vinegar?

White vinegar is a type of vinegar which is created out of the fermentation process of ethanol into acetic acid. This process is carried out by bacteria, which makes it a perfect method to remove rust.

What Is White Vinegar

You can see some traces of acetic acid (CH3COOH), moist and other reactive chemicals in white vinegar. The concentration of acetic acids in vinegar depends on the kinds of vinegar we are dealing with.

Furthermore, for distilled white vinegar, it has about 7 to 10% of acetic acid. It is second only to vinegar spirit when we are talking of acetic acid concentration.

Categories of Rust

There are three primary types of rust available they are:

Categories of Rust

  • Surface Rust: This rust category is when the oxidation process is in its early stages. This rust type can easily be removed using distilled white vinegar. Materials you need are sandpaper, sponge and clean cloth.
  • Scale Rust: Scale rust is a degenerative rust type. This happens when you have neglected surface rust for a while. It takes conscious effort to remove this type of rusting. You could also use distilled white vinegar to get rid of this rust, but it will take a while.
  • Penetrating Rust: This is a bad stage of rust, because the iron and metal would have started peeling on its surface. You will require professional help or chemicals to get rid of this type of rusting.

Causes of Rust

Rust doesn’t happen in isolation. Here are some major causes of rust :

Causes of Rust

  • Rain: Water, especially prolonged rain, is a major factor which causes rust in irons and steels. When iron is exposed to too much water, there is a chemical reaction which results in oxidation. Therefore, during the rainy season, it is important to protect your car and other metal equipment from rain.
  • Salt: Sodium sulfate is a chemical present in salt which accelerates rust in metals. That is why those staying close to the ocean suffer more from rust. The salt in the ocean finds its way to cars and equipment and causes corrosion. Also, road salt makes iron more prone to rust.
  • Poor Humidity: When the humidity in your garage or basement is bad, expect your car and other iron kept there to be vulnerable to rust. You should use a dehumidifier or provide optimal air flow to reduce rusting.
  • Neglect: Bad maintenance of iron and steel equipment will let it succumb to rust. When dents and grits accumulate in cars, plumbing systems and water systems, rust sets it. Washing and drying them regularly will go a long way to prevent rust.

Alternative Homemade Rust Removal Options

While distilled white vinegar can help remove  dents, there are also good natural homemade items that you can use to remove rust.

Alternative Homemade Rust Removal Options

  • Lemon: Lemon juice works wonders when removing rust from metals in the house. It is particularly useful when dealing with small house materials which suffer from rust. Cut the lemon into two and squeeze in a bowl. Put two teaspoons of salt, then stir for a few seconds. Put the rusted iron in the solution for some hours, bring them out and scrub till all the rust is removed.
  • Raw Potatoes: Potatoes are another good remedy that can help get rid of rust. Slice the potato skins and scrub the rusted metal pieces using the skins and some salt. Do this for 45 minutes to an hour. Dip in clean water and dry properly.
  • Baking and Washing Soda: If you have a washing or baking soda, you can remove that rust stain easily. Mix a little water with the soda and use the solution to scrub the rusted material, then use a clean cloth to wipe away.
  • Coke: Yes, you heard me right, Coca-Cola. There is a chemical in coke which can help remove rust when applied ideally. Pour a can of coconut on the rusted piece, immediately get a sandpaper or iron sponge, then scrub tightly for some minutes. Leave for one hour, repeat the process for excellent results.

What Are the Steps to Remove Rust Using Distilled White Vinegar?

When iron oxides form on the layer of metals and iron, rust occurs. To use distilled white vinegar to remove rust, here are the steps to follow :

What Are the Steps to Remove Rust Using Distilled White Vinegar

  • Step 1: Pour distilled white vinegar into a bowl, add some salt, then stir the mixture till there isn’t a sign of salt.
  • Step 2: Put the rust pieces into the bowl, and ensure it goes under completely.
  • Step 3: Wait for about 30 minutes to one hour and check if the rust wears off the rust piece.
  • Step 4: For delicate rusted pieces, avoid submerging them in the mixture, because it may cause irreparable damage.
  • Step 5: Bring the submerged materials out using rubber gloves, and put in on a clean cloth. Get a brush or sponge to clean it.
  • Step 6: Once you have cleaned it with the brush, make a mixture of baking soda in another bowl and place the rusted item in the solution for about 15 minutes to neutralize all acids.
  • Step 7: Take it out and use a dry cloth to dry it completely.


So does distilled white vinegar remove rust? Yes, Distilled white vinegar remains a good homemade solution to remove rust. Rust is caused by factors which include salt, bad humidity and exposure to too much water. You can use other homemade items like potato, lemon and baking soda to remove rust

Evan Cooper

Evan Cooper

Hi, I’m Evan Cooper, the founder and an editor of this site, Doesitrust. I’m a chemical engineer and working in a rust-eliminating paint manufacturing company. Besides this profession, I’m a researcher and blogger.

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