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If you’re a homeowner, you’ve probably already fought some battles against rust. Rust is at best unsightly, and at worst can permanently damage your property. Rusty objects can stain the surfaces they rest on, cause their rust to spread, and ultimately be themselves rendered useless.

So how do you prevent rust? Rust is the result of a chemical reaction between iron, water, and oxygen. Certain other substances, such as salts, can speed this process, although they do not themselves cause rust. Thus, things left in moist, warm places, things frequently left outdoors, and anything else that is frequently in contact with water will be most vulnerable to rust.

For many items in your home, the first line of defense against rust is paint. Look for varieties of paint that are specifically labeled to prevent rust. If not paint, there are also wax and oil coatings. These stick a little better, and are great for woodworking tools or anything else that’s going to be seeing a fair amount of wear. No matter what you use, be sure to give everything frequent touch-ups, keep your stuff as dry as possible, and clean regularly. Dirt can wear through paint, and chipped paint is an invitation for rust to strike.

If you’re especially concerned about rust, there are rust prevention products you can buy. Boeshield T-9 aerosol, bull frog heavy duty rust blocker gel, and sentry solutions TUF CLOTH are three products that can help prevent rust on high-risk items. You can also make a homemade rust prevention coating by mixing one part anhydrous lanolin with five parts paint thinner.

Also, bare in mind that rust spreads. Watch out for things that might leave rust stains behind, such as metal paint cans. Inspect at-risk areas regularly for rust, and treat any rust you find as quickly as possible. There are numerous easy home remedies against rust. Rust can be cleaned by anything acidic, meaning that lemon juice, vinegar, and coca cola are all easy rust removers that you probably already have in your home. For small rusted items, such as utensils, clean them with salt and a potato. There are stronger acids, such as muriatic acid or phosphoric acid, that you could use if the rust is really bad. However, these are messy and a bit dangerous to work with. A neater, and safer, method involves using electrical currents to remove the rust–no scrubbing involved. This is a pretty cool trick that is unfortunately too long to describe adequately in this blog, but you can find tutorials online.

Robert “Bob” Heidersbach is the author of Metallurgy and Corrosion Control in Oil and Gas Production. The book is based on Robert’s experience teaching new engineers that need to understand metallurgy and corrosion control in the oil industry. He is currently in the process of rewriting and updating the publication, and welcomes any suggestions about how to improve the book. In his spare time, Bob enjoys kayaking, biking and traveling.