How to remove rust from an old milk can

Written by tallulah philange
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How to remove rust from an old milk can
There are several ways to de-rust old milk cans. (Kenneth Rittener/Valueline/Getty Images)

Old milk cans fit in with many decor styles. Whether you're accessorising a cottage or farm-style room, a milk can makes for an unusual decoration. Outside, the cans function as garden accessories. Most old milk cans are made from tin. In times gone by, farmers used to use "fresh raw acid" to retin their milk cans and remove rust. In modern times, we have de-rusting products as well as homemade approaches to remove rust from an old milk can.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Wire brush
  • Rust dissolving agent
  • Cotton rag
  • Steel wool pad
  • Potato
  • Bowl
  • 3 tbsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp salt

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    Rust Dissolving Agent

  1. 1

    Rub fine-grit sandpaper over the rusty spots to loosen the rust.

  2. 2

    Spray a rust dissolving agent all over the can.

  3. 3

    Run a wire brush over the can to lift off the rust. Spray on more of the rust dissolving product, if necessary.

  4. 4

    Rinse off the old milk can with water. Inspect it to determine if rust remains and, if so, repeat the scrubbing.

  5. 5

    Dry the can with a cotton towel.

    Potato, Salt and Baking Soda

  1. 1

    Scrub the milk can with a steel wool pad to loosen the rust patches.

  2. 2

    Cut a potato in half. Choose whether to cut it lengthwise or widthways based on which cut will give you the best grip on the potato.

  3. 3

    Dip the cut potato half into a mixture of three tbsp baking soda and three tbsp salt to coat.

  4. 4

    Rub the potato vigorously and with hard pressure over the milk can's rust. Re-dip the potato into the baking soda and salt as necessary to keep it coated.

  5. 5

    Rinse off the can with water and dry it thoroughly with a cotton rag.

Tips and warnings

  • Increase the baking soda and salt proportionally as needed if your old milk can has a lot of rust.

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