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Rust on Metal Table: Ask Annie

Rust on Metal Table: Ask Annie

Hi Annie! Do you have any tips for removing rust from a metal table? –Julianne, NY

Dear Julianne,

Nice to hear from you! The old folk formulas rave about cream of tartar as the best choice to remove rust. Just make a thick paste of cream of tartar and water and rub it onto the metal table. (Note to spot test if the metal table is painted.) Let the mixture set on the rust for a few hours, keeping the paste damp, before rinsing. I hope it helps! Another tip for removing rust is milk, also an acid, but I am not sure pouring milk on the table will remove the rust unless you can let it pool over the rust, which depends on where the rust is found.

Good luck.

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


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10:56AM PDT on Jun 21, 2015

White vinegar rubbed on with a scrubbee will also take rust off. It's sort of hard to keep any paste moist on a table, unless you cover the whole thing with plastic, I suppose.

8:50PM PDT on Mar 27, 2013

Some interesting ideas - I want to get rust off my can opener and a cast iron frying pan so I'm a bit leery of using commerical cleaners.

3:01AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

Thank you for the info.

4:54PM PDT on Aug 1, 2012

Thanks so much for the tip.

9:41AM PDT on Nov 2, 2011


9:41AM PDT on Nov 2, 2011


5:20PM PDT on Jul 8, 2009

does anyone know about" painted ,rusted,wrought iron,that has been abused by animal urine,"
how do I go about restoring to use by family.

9:09PM PDT on Sep 24, 2008

Oxalic acid is great at getting rid of rust, and you can buy it at the hardware store. Used car places use it to clean rust spots off older cars. Oxalic acid is a natural product (or it can be), and it is found in swiss chard and spinach. It sticks to metal ions, like calcium and iron, and "chelates" them, which helps remove rust spots.

4:31PM PDT on Sep 17, 2008

if you use the shinny side of reynolds wrap aluminum foil, it also will take off deep rust and leave your metal very shiny.

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