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Cleaning Hand Tools with Bar Keepers Friend

June 15, 2022

Unfortunately, for many people, including me, cleaning hand tools isn’t at the top of my to-do list. It probably doesn’t enter your mind until you grab that pair of pliers that were your grandfather’s and find them covered in rust. Be there, done that.

Hand tools are just what the name implies; unpowered handheld tools used by craft people, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, and more. Most households keep a few hand tools, including pliers, hammers, screwdrivers, chisels, and wrenches.

People have used hand tools since the stone age through the bronze age into modern times. Today, most hand tools are steel, with fiberglass, wood, or plastic handles. The type of steel varies by tool and manufacturer, but most are either high carbon or steel alloys.

Cleaning Hand Tools with Bar Keepers Friend

Bar Keepers Friend Powdered CleanserSoft Cleanser, or MORE Spray + Foam can be used to clean your steel hand tools. We recommend the Soft Cleanser or MORE Spray + Foam for regular cleaning. Both are easy to use and effective. Simply spray it on, wipe the tools off with a sponge and dry with a soft cloth.

Removing Rust 

What about rusted tools? For heavy rust, we’d suggest using BKF Powdered Cleanser. Here’s what Bar Keepers Friend Digital Marketing Manager, enthusiast, and expert Felicia Savage had to say.

“We normally recommend that you avoid using any abrasive materials, such as steel wool, with Bar Keepers Friend. If you have very rusty tools, this is one of those times when it would be OK to use a tougher scrubber such as steel wool, a wire brush, or an abrasive sponge.

To remove rust from hand tools, apply Bar Keepers Friend to your sponge (you’ll need to wet the sponge to create a paste if you are using the powdered cleanser) and scrub the tool in circular motions to remove the rust.

If the tool is badly pitted, you may need to use steel wool or a wire brush. Rinse and repeat the BKF application and scrubbing until you have removed the rust stains.”

For old, deeply rusted hand tools, before using BKF, it might be best to soak them in white vinegar for 4 hours or more. Here’s an excerpt from Popular Mechanics How to Remove Rust From Your Older Tools, “To dissolve years of corrosion, we submerged the heads in a bucket containing a gallon of white vinegar. We covered the bucket with a piece of plywood and let the parts soak for about four hours. Next, we scrubbed off the surface rust with Grade 1 steel wool. It didn’t remove all the rust, but there was a noticeable difference.”

What about Cleaning the Handles?

  • Wood Handles 

Many tools such as hammers have wooden handles. One method suggested by tool makers is to sand them with medium-grit sandpaper and then rub a few drops of linseed oil into the wood with a cloth.

  • Fiberglass and FRP Handles 

We recommend Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser. Simply wet the handle, make a paste using our product and a small amount of water, and then use a damp sponge to spread the cleanser evenly. Wait one minute (not longer) before scrubbing and then rinsing.

  • Plastic Handles 

For plastic handles, we recommend Soft Cleanser or MORE Spray + Foam. Just follow the directions on the box.

Warning: Some plastics may be etched or dulled by either product. Before cleaning plastics, first test the product on a small area.

Once your tools are clean and dry, be sure to store them in a dry place. Also, it’s a good idea to protect them from future corrosion. I’ve used Rust-Oleum with success. I know others use oils such as WD-40.

If you’ve used BKF to bring your corroded hand tools back to life, we’d love to hear from you. If you have any photos, you can upload and share them here.

About the Author 

Randy Clark author

Randy Clark is a speaker, coach, and author. He publishes a weekly blog at Randy Clark Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He’s a beer geek, and on weekends (after COVID-19), he can be found fronting the Rock & Roll band Under the Radar. He’s the proud father of two educators; he has four amazing grandchildren and a wife who dedicates her time to helping others. Randy is the author of the Amazon bestseller The New Manager’s Workbook: A crash course in effective management.





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