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How to Clean Greasy Tools

Dirt, grease, and rust are three culprits that can cause harm to your older tools. When tools aren’t cleaned regularly, they develop small cracks on the surface and crevices, with the potential to become blunt. As a result, when you’re working on a particularly difficult DIY project, a hard impact has the power to break them. That’s the bad news. Imagine searching for a Phillips Head in your toolbox, only to come up with a fat head that won’t fit in anywhere. Moving on to the good news ― there are plenty of ways on how to clean greasy tools.


Greasy tools can extend your 1-hour DIY project to 2 hours. You simply don’t get that tight grip new tools offer. Plus, greasy tools can slip from your hands and injure you. Better inspect your toolbox to make sure there isn’t any oil spilled onto the tools.


Some of the top options for cleaning greasy tools include using the trusty white vinegar and Dawn liquid soap or commercial cleaners such as oxalic acid, a degreaser, or WD-40. Let’s take a look at the methods and how they work:


How to Clean Greasy Tools Using DIY Solutions


The acidity in vinegar not only cuts through rust but also helps in dissolving grease. This method of cleaning your tools is pretty simple. Depending on how many tools you need to clean, you can either use a bowl or a bucket. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Fill a large bowl/bucket with 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water
  • Submerge your tools in this solution and leave them in place for 10 minutes
  • When the time is up, take out the tools  and rinse them under tap water
  • Now use soft cotton or microfiber cloth to wipe the tools


Dawn Liquid Soap

You don’t necessarily have to use Dawn liquid soap. Other top dishwashing soaps that remove grease effectively include Seventh Generation, Lemi Shine, Caldrea, Good Housekeeping, and Method X Minted. Here’s how to clean greasy tools with liquid soap:

  • Boil a gallon of hot water and pour it into a bucket
  • Add a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid into it and stir
  • Dip the tools in the water one by one and scrub them using a scrub or a dishrag (Do no submerge them in water)
  • Once the tools are cleaned, run them under tap water and wipe them immediately using a towel


How to Clean Greasy Tools Using Commercial Cleaners

Items You’ll Need

  • Oxalic Acid
  • Degreaser
  • WD-40
  • Dishrags
  • Lint-Free Cloth
  • Steel Wool or a Hard-Bristle Brush
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Coveralls


Oxalic Acid

From rust to oil stains, every kind of problem can be solved with oxalic acid. It’s pretty fast-acting and hazardous to the skin. So, you need to wear some protection such as gloves, goggles, and coveralls while cleaning your greasy tools. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Add one pound of oxalic acid powder in one gallon of water
  • Submerge your tools in this solution for 10 to 20 minutes
  • Take them out and use a hard-bristle brush to remove any leftover grease
  • Run the tools under tap water and then wipe them using a dishrag



One of the best degreasers is one with citric acid in it. You can easily find one in your nearest Home Depot store. Since degreasers are highly corrosive, we recommend that you wear gloves while cleaning the tools. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Check the back for instructions and then apply the degreaser (Usually, you have to dissolve a small into a gallon of water and then submerge your tools in it for not more than 10 minutes)
  • Wipe the tools down with a dish rag


If you still see small grease spots on the tools then use a little paint thinner to wipe them. Be careful because using one chemical after the other might make the surface rough. However, we even have a solution for that. To smooth out those rough surfaces, use a metal file or sandpaper.


WD-40 Specialist Degreaser

The WD-40 Specialist Degreaser is the cleaner you need from this brand’s product line. This degreaser not only removes the oily substance from tools but also leaves a light shine behind that acts as a primer. This degreaser prevents dust, grease, and rust from settling on the tools again. Here’s how to use this degreaser:

  • Take a clean dish rag and pour a small amount of degreaser on it
  • Rub the tools with this dishrag and let the lubricant sit for 5 minutes. This will loosen the grease and allow you to wipe it off easily
  • Once the degreaser is wiped, take a lint-free cloth and apply the degreaser again
  • Now, use a hard-bristle brush or steel wool to remove any stains
  • Rinse the tools under tap water and then wipe them with a fresh cloth

Note: After cleaning your tools with a WD-40 Specialist Degreaser, your tools will be ready for rust removal. For information regarding this, check out our blog “How to Clean Rusty Tools.”


Some of these methods of how to clean greasy tools such as using vinegar and oxalic acid not only help remove grease but rust too. So, you can easily kill two birds with one stone. You can always wipe the tools down with WD-40 in the end to give them a light coat of protection. If you’re planning to paint your tools then we suggest that you apply primer first to prevent oxidization.


Our Final Thoughts

Even the slightest touch of water and air can make your tools susceptible to rust. Add in dust and grease, and you have got a mess on your hands. The good news is that removing all these miscreants is pretty easy. From vinegar to your average dishwashing liquid and commercial cleaners, such as a degreaser or WD-40, all these can help make your tools look brand new.


Now, you should know how to clean greasy tools with these items, you can run to your nearest superstore to buy them and then use them. They are multi-purpose and will help you clean more than just your tools.


About Chris

When Chris first bought a house, he quickly realized that he was now going to need to be a weekend handyman. Every project that he worked on, he kept realizing that he needed more and more DIY tools. Chris is also someone who likes to do a lot of research before making large purchases. Since he had already done most of the research, Chris decided to put the info that he accumulated about his favorite daily tools onto