Without using chemicals that I cannot easily produce myself, is there a way to prevent garden tools from rusting? They are bound to stay* outdoors, protected from direct rain.

I tried sunflower oil, but it doesn't seem optimal. It seems to disappear after a couple of months.


As I mean "they stay outdoors", I mean they are just stored, not used.

  • 2
    Any oil will come off after just a little use. WD-40 and motor oil are the only two oils I've ever seen used on metal tools, neither of which can be produced on a personal scale, but then again consider that neither can the metal tool heads. Linseed oil is usually only used for the wooden handles, but will help for the heads too, just may be less effective. In addition, make sure to clean the head with a wire brush after each use, oil after each use, and de-rust with steel wool when needed to keep the rust from spreading.
    – Eonema
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 16:42
  • Thanks @Eonema, your comment could be post as an answer, good advice! even so we replace WD-40 by linseed
    – J. Chomel
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 7:13

2 Answers 2


Linseed oil is traditional. Presumably you could either grow the seed or buy a bag of it and crush and boil it yourself. Linseed oil is a drying oil which, in contrast to the sunflower oil you mentioned, is more like a varnish as it polymerises on the treated workpiece for long-lasting protection. It is traditionally and still currently used for treating sports bats, boats and the like.


This source suggests:

  • Keep your garden tools clean and dry. Clean them off after use, and especially before putting them away for the winter.
  • Preferably store them by hanging them on nails or hooks, instead of on the ground. Moisture is heavier than air, and tends to settle towards the ground. (Source.)
  • Protect your tools by adding oil just before winter storage.
  • Thanks for sharing! The source looks like a commercial site. And do not refer to natural oil. Not sure how it answers my question.
    – J. Chomel
    Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 6:11
  • @J.Chomel: A.) It tells you to add oil just before winter storage, when the oil won't rub off. If you can't get linseed oil, at least you can put sunflower oil on as winter approaches, and hopefully it will last until the spring. B) It also tells you some non-oil methods which help to answer the question in your post title: "How to prevent rust on garden tools?" If the post title is not what you actually meant to ask, please edit it. Commented Aug 27, 2023 at 19:16

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