Rusty Shed, Rusty Tools! Why and How To Stop It

Whenever it’s raining or snowing or whenever the elements are not on your side, it can be quite common for you to see your shed and tools rusting.

When a shed or a tool has become quite rusted, it becomes almost entirely useless, especially because of how rust can weaken the metal your shed or tools are made of. As such, how do you stop your shed and tools from rusting, and why are they even rusting?

When the elements are not on your side, excess moisture can get into your shed and cause your shed and your tools to rust. The best way to prevent this is to store them properly. Rusty tools are caused by a chemical reaction between iron and water, oxygen, and sometimes chemicals such as acids and salts.

To prevent rust, wipe tools dry after use, use a rust inhibitor, and use a rust converter on already rusted tools. To remove rust, use a wire brush, sandpaper, rust dissolver, vinegar, or a paste of baking soda and water. 

Excess moisture can easily cause tools to rust and become damaged, so it is important to properly store them. Additionally, it is important to take steps to prevent the shed from rusting.

Why Do Your Shed And Tools Rust?

There are so many things that can contribute to the rusting of a shed or tools. For example, the humidity levels in the air can determine the rate of rusting. High humidity levels can create a moist environment that promotes rust formation, while lower humidity levels will slow down the rusting process.

Almost any type of metal used to make the shed and tools can affect their susceptibility to rusting. Metals, such as stainless steel, are less likely to rust than others, such as carbon steel, etc.

Finally, the presence of salt or other corrosive substances in the air or on the surface of the shed and tools can accelerate the rusting process.

How To Prevent Your Tools From Rusting

Here are 10 ways to prevent rusting in your shed and tools:

  1. Keep the levels of humidity in your shed low by using a dehumidifier or if you have windows installed on the shed, open windows to allow for better air circulation.
  1. Another thing I like to use is a rust inhibitor or rust converter for my tools and shed to create a barrier that prevents rust from forming.
  1. Make sure to store your tools in a dry place, such as a tool chest with a waterproof type of seal to prevent moisture from accessing the tools.
  1. When you are done with your tools it is best to clean and dry your tools after use to remove any moisture or corrosive substances that may be present.
  1. When you are done constructing the shed, use high-quality paint or finish on your shed to create a protective layer that prevents rust. This will not only save you time but also money.
  1. Consider using stainless steel or other rust-resistant materials for your shed if it is possible to reduce the risk of the worry of rusting and degrading materials.
  1. It is very important to avoid storing your tools in damp or humid areas, such as the basement or crawl spaces, as it is more likely for these spaces to hold moisture for longer.
  1. If your property is located along the coastline, try to keep your tools sealed up in a container from saltwater or other corrosive substances.
  1. Use a protective cover for your shed, such as a tarp or canopy, and also install a good drainage system to keep it dry and prevent rust formation.
  1. Regularly inspect the shed and tools for any signs of rust and attend to the issue as soon as possible to prevent any further corrosion.

Make Sure You Clean Your Tools Regularly

The importance of keeping our tools dry and clean can easily slip our minds but keeping a regular maintenance schedule with our tools can help them last a lot longer so regularly cleaning your tools to maintain their functionality and prolong their lifespan is a must.

Neglecting to clean your tools can lead to a buildup of dirt and grime, which can cause them to malfunction or, in some cases, become completely useless and less effective over time.

Furthermore, dirty tools can also be unsanitary and pose a risk of spreading germs or bacteria when a small injury occurs during a project. Keeping your tools clean should be a simple and easy task that can be done with basic household materials such as a brush, bucket, soap, and water.

For example, for metal tools such as scissors, you can use a solution of mild soap and warm water to scrub away any dirt or debris. After, dry them thoroughly with a clean cloth. For wooden handles, you can wipe them down with a damp cloth and let them air dry.

Not only will regular cleaning of your tools keep them in top condition, but it will also ensure that you have properly working tools but also a safe and hygienic work environment.

Clean Specific Types Of Tools

Metal Tools Such As Scissors, Pliers, And Hammers:

  • Mix a solution of mild soap and warm water for the cleaning process.
  • Scrub the tools with a brush to remove any dirt or debris that might hold any moisture.
  • After you have cleaned the tools with warm soapy water, you must rinse the tools thoroughly with clean water.
  • Then you will have to dry the tools completely with a clean cloth to get all the excess moisture

Wooden-Handled Tools Such As Saws And Axes

  • Wipe down the handles with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris that can lead to the degradation of the wood
  • Then place the tool in a well-ventilated area so that the handles air dry completely before storing them again.

Garden Tools Such As Shovels And Rakes

  • Using the garden hose, rinse off any dirt or debris on the tools. You can also use a brush if it is tough to just simply rinse with a hose.
  • After this, you can mix a solution of mild soap and warm water to get the rest of the dirt
  • When you’re done cleaning the tools with the soap solution, thoroughly rinse the tools with clean water
  • Dry the tools completely with a clean cloth

Power Tools Such As Drills And Saws

  • Unplug the tool or remove the battery
  • Use a brush or compressed air to remove any dirt or debris from the tool
  • Wipe down the tool with a damp cloth
  • Dry the tool completely before storing or using it again

It’s important to note that it’s also good to have specific cleaning instructions for each tool as every tool has specific cleaning needs depending on the material, nature, and use of them.

Don’t Keep Your Hand And Power Tools In The Same Place

The thing you need to know is that a small amount of sawdust can easily cause your hand and power tools to rust because of how sawdust retains moisture. Because power tools tend to collect sawdust, you should make sure that you keep these tools clean and in a dry place. 

If you have a smaller storage space, try to keep the hand tools in a separate enclosed box to keep them away from the power tools in order not to spread any rust to other tools.

Maintain Low Humidity Levels

Humidity is the measure of how much moisture is in the air. So, the more humid the place is, the more likely it is for your tools to end up rusting because the moisture in the air can easily speed up any rust build-up.

So, to minimize the chances of your tools getting rusty, you must know how to control the humidity in the shed. Make sure that the humidity is low, and that the air is freely flowing in and out of the room. You can do this by using a dehumidifier and exhaust will help keep the moisture levels to a minimum.

Avoid Putting The Tools On The Ground

Always make sure to put your tools in an elevated place because the ground can be holding a lot of moisture. Even if you are storing your tools in a place with a solid base, moisture can still get through a solid base.

So, the closer your tools are to the floor, the more likely the chances are of them getting exposed to the moisture coming from the base of the shed.

Use A Water Displacer

Using WD-40 on your tools and applying a thin layer on them can help prevent rust. That’s because WD-40 is a water displacer that is capable of keeping moisture away from your tools.

In some cases, you can also use mineral oil by applying a thin layer of it with a clean cloth to your tools. Because water and oil don’t mix, this prevents any kind of moisture from seeping into the metal parts, causing them to rust.

Make Sure That The Shed Is The Proper Size

The size of the shed matters when it comes to storage space and airflow when stacking the tools. That’s because tools that are packed in a small shed with little to no airflow are more likely to rust since there is less airflow in a shed that is fully stacked and moisture can easily build up.

Meanwhile, if the shed is big with a lot of packing space, this can be a good way to prevent your tools from rusting because the air will be able to flow easier through the space.

Have Windows And Fans Installed

As mentioned, ventilation is an important part of keeping your tools rust-free. This is why you need to store them in a shed that is properly ventilated. Don’t go for sheds that don’t have small vents or windows because this will prevent moisture from freely flowing in and out of the shed. 

Instead, go for a shed that is capable of allowing air to pass through by having windows or air vents installed. You can also go for exhaust fans that can keep the air flowing in and out of the toolshed without having to install windows.

However, remember that your shed will need to include a power supply if there will be fans installed on the shed.

How to Prevent The Shed From Rusting

Now that you know that you can prevent your tools from rusting, what about the shed? Your shed needs to be just as rust-free as your tools, especially if you have a metal shed.

It is important to regularly inspect and maintain a shed to ensure that it remains rust-free, as well as to look out for any signs of rust forming, such as red or brown stains, and address them promptly. This will help expand the lifespan of not only the shed but the tools as well.

Before Assembly

Before you assemble your shed, make sure that you are using the right base so that you can prevent moisture from seeping into the shed. You must use something solid, such as gravel, rock, or cement, to serve as the base.

Do not assemble your shed straight on the ground or on the soil because soil tends to carry moisture into the shed when it gets wet. However, we recommend that you use gravel because gravel aids in draining any excess moisture from your shed whenever there is a leak or in case rainwater does indeed get into the shed.

It should also be a good idea to install your water drainage system inside the shed to aid the gravel in draining any excess water that builds up inside it.

After Assembly:

Have fans installed to keep the air flowing properly and humidity levels down and prevent moisture from sticking around for long periods that can cause rust to form on the shed and tools? Also, remember to regularly check up on how the paint of the shed is doing. It will give you that added protection if it is maintained well.

This might sound a bit odd, but cat litter can be used to absorb moisture and decrease humidity levels inside the shed and the chance that moisture will hang around long enough to cause any harm to the shed or tools stored therein.

During the construction process of your shed, always make sure to double-check the build to prevent potentially landing up with any gaps in the structure that will expose the material to any unwanted moisture. This will lead to rust and corrosion and even lead to your tools or shed giving up the ghost.


Rust is a major problem for sheds and tools, causing damage and weakening the metal. By understanding why and how rust forms, it is possible to take steps to prevent it.

Keeping the humidity level low, using rust inhibitors and rust converters, storing tools and the shed in dry places, cleaning and drying them after use, using rust-resistant materials, and regular inspection and maintenance. These are all things you can implement to lower the risk of getting rust on any of your tools and shed.

Remember to use protective coverings on your tools if necessary, it’s essential to prolong the lifespan. This and regular maintenance are key to preserving the functionality and longevity of your tools and shed.

Manny Moore

Getting my hands dirty and building a place that me and my small family love is a driving factor for what I do and how I do it. I want to share what I have learned and practiced so that it is just that much easier for everyone to have another tool in their tool belt. Your home should be a place that you love and feel comfortable in and your backyard should be no different.

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