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How to clean rust off of antique metal trunks

Updated February 21, 2017

Antique metal trunks can make for decorative pieces or serve as additional storage units inside your home. Reddish rust stains located on the surface of the trunk can transfer onto items placed inside the trunk or prevent you from painting or otherwise decorating the outside of the trunk. Combining a food item with a common household product creates an effective homemade rust remover that adequately dissolves and eliminates such stains without harming the surface of the aged trunk.

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  1. Pour approximately a cup of baking soda into a small, dry bowl or container.

  2. Slice one potato in half so you have two equal slices.

  3. Dip one of the slices into the baking soda.

  4. Scrub the portion of the metal drunk covered in rust with the potato. According to The Kitchn website, oxalic acid in the potato, combined with the adhesive nature of baking soda, safely dissolves the rust found on the trunk.

  5. Repeat steps 2 through 4, if necessary, until all of the rust has been covered.

  6. Moisten the toothbrush with tap water. Scrub the metal trunk with the brush (while the homemade rust remover is still on the trunk) to remove darker rust stains.

  7. Wipe the trunk dry with a clean microfiber cloth.

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Things You'll Need

  • Baking soda
  • Bowl or container
  • Potato
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Water
  • Microfiber cloth

About the Author

Andrew Smith

Andrew Smith has been a freelance writer since 2006, specializing in sports and technology. His work has appeared on various online sites. Smith has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Pennsylvania State University.

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