How to Keep Bolts from Rusting?

Rusting is a problem that you’ll often face while working with metal. It can quickly corrode the material and ruin its functionality and stability. Excessive corrosion eventually weakens the bolts and reduces their strength.

So, how to keep bolts from rusting? There are a lot of conventional ways to keep iron/steel bolts from rusting. The most common way is to galvanize them. In this process, a protective coating of zinc is applied over the surface of the bolt. Zinc corrodes about 30 times slower than iron. So, it keeps the bolts from rusting for a long time.

There are other effective ways to prevent rusting in bolts. Read the whole article to get to know all about them.

Is It Possible to Keep Bolts from Rusting?

Corrosion or rust is the biggest enemy of any metallic bolts. It can damage and destroy the bolts slowly over time. It even affects the strength of the iron or steel bolts and eventually can lead to application failure.

Once the fasteners are attacked by rust, they can become hard to install. But most importantly, if a fastener becomes affected by corrosion after installation, it becomes very difficult and frustrating to remove from its place.

So, as we always say, prevention is better than cure. Instead of thinking about all the ways of removing rust, you should focus on how to keep your bolts from rusting.

The first and foremost step in preventing bolts from rusting is to keep them away from moisture. Be it direct water or environmental moisture, you need to keep the bolts from being exposed to them. So, storing and placing them in a dry place should do the trick.

The most effective way to prevent rusting is to apply a zinc-based lacquer over the bolts before you secure them in their place. Zinc doesn’t corrode much easily and deteriorates much slower than iron or steel. So, applying the zinc layer protects them from rusting easily.

You can also apply metallic or protective paint over these bolts. It will reduce the amount of surface area that is exposed to the environment. Thus decreasing the possibility of rusting.

Nail varnish, wax, mineral oil, or other household items can also be used in a similar way. They provide the same moisture sealant benefits without being too noticeable or obvious.

One other thing that you can do is to invest a little in them and get corrosion-resistant fasteners. They might cost a little more but will save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run.

How Do You Keep Bolts from Rusting?

When iron or steel bolts come in contact with moisture, it is most like to develop rust if there is no protective sealant applied over them. Rust can quickly become a serious problem. It can weaken and break down bolts over time.

This can even lead to the breaking of important machinery. Knowing how to protect your bolts from corrosion can save you lots of money, time, and hassle at times.

Just following these simple steps can help you to make your fasteners last longer:

Choose the Right Bolts

Choosing the perfect bolts for any use is a very crucial step against preventing rust. Bolts made of iron or regular steel can get corroded quite easily. Whereas, bolts that are made of alloys like stainless steel can last quite long.

Alloys are a mix of different metals, so their life span also varies greatly. This slows their process of rusting and makes them quite corrosion-resisting. Although stainless steel might not be suitable or economical for all purposes, they are still pretty versatile.

Proper Installation

You need to be quite careful while installing bolts. Place them in their proper position and gently install them. Don’t try to forcefully insert or connect them at any joint.

Lubricate the Bolts

Before inserting the bolts in their places, apply a generous amount of lubricant or oil coating over them. These lubricants will work as a sealant and keep the moisture away.

Thus, it would reduce the amount of exposed surface area of the fasteners as well as decrease the chance of rusting. However, an oily surface might cause problems for some tools or machines and poses environmental or human concerns. So, this method is not always applicable.

Apply Coatings

Coatings also work as a sealant and keep the bolts from being exposed to the environment. There are different kinds of coating techniques that are commonly followed.  

Among them, the most effective one is to galvanize a layer of zinc over the iron bolts or to apply a zinc-based protective sealant lacquer over them. As zinc doesn’t corrode that easily, it can protect the fasteners for a long time.

You can also use special rust-preventative dry coatings. These are specially formulated products that work just like lubricants and create a barrier against corrosion. The plus point of using it is that it doesn’t leave any residue behind.

Once dried, you won’t even notice any change, and the metal won’t look or feel any different. Blueing is another method that is getting quite popular nowadays.

In this method, the metal turns blue or black in color as a layer of magnetite is applied over it to prevent it from rusting.

Regular Maintenance and Inspection

If you want to protect your bolt fasteners from rusting, proper maintenance is a must. Every few months you need to apply an anti-corrosive spray or lubricant over them so that no rust can start to form.

Also, if you see any slightest hint of rusting, scrape it away instantly with sandpaper and then take protective measures.

Proper Storage

Choose a low-moisture or temperature/humidity-controlled area while storing metallic bolts to ensure their safety against rusting.

Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI) is a type of chemical substance that is often infused inside the packaging of metal products. They can emit rust-eradicating vapors into an enclosed air space and prevent the corrosion of any metal surfaces.

Can You Remove Rust from Bolt?

Although I said that prevention is better than cure, sometimes curing is just unavoidable. Once your fasteners like bolts and screws start to develop a layer of rust in them, you must quickly eradicate it completely.

Rusting can make them get quite stuck in their place and it becomes almost impossible to budge them. 

In such cases, you’ll need to remove the rust from the bolts. To do this, you can use lubricating sprays. These lubricating sprays penetrate deep into the rust and loosen up the blots and screws.

WD-40® Specialist® Fast Release Penetrant Spray” is a lubricating spray that can remove rust and free the bolts from their stuck position within a mere moment. All you need to do is apply the product all over the bolts and lightly tap it with a hammer. This will allow the lubricant to spread evenly all over the bolts.

Another effective way to get rid of rust is to use hydrogen peroxide. It can dissolve corrosion within a very short time. Apply it generously all over the bolt surface and let it sit for a while.

Then scrub the corroded surface with a hard brush to remove any leftover rust. If you want to reuse these bolts, you’ll need to scrub them with steel wool or sandpaper quite vigorously.

Once the bolt is completely rust-free you can apply a little bit of lubricant over it and use it again. Although this process is a little time-consuming, you can still apply it if you want.

Read Also: Remove Great Stuff from Hands

Tips and Tricks

Here, I’ll be discussing some important tips and tricks about how to get rust-free bolts. Follow closely as these can save you a lot of time and trouble.

  1. Always try to keep your bolts clean and dry. Especially while storing them away for a long time.
  2. Apply a little amount of lubricant while storing them.
  3. Cover the surface of the bolts with paint, sealant, or oil before installing them.
  4. The bolts that are already in use, check up on them from time to time. If you see even a hint of rusting, apply anti-corrosive products on the bolts.
  5. Using a sturdy wire brush, steel wool, or sandpaper scrub away the rusted bolts from time to time.
  6. Put Vapor Corrosion Inhibitors (VCI) inside while packaging metal bolts to ensure their safety.  


What is a Natural Rust Remover?

White vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda work as an excellent natural rust remover. The acid present is vinegar and lemon juice can dissolve rust very easily. Soak the fasteners in them or pour them directly over them to get rid of corrosion.

Although be sure to rinse them properly afterward. Acid left on these metallic bolts will slowly but surely damage their surface.

How can Rust be Prevented Permanently?

The most effective way to permanently prevent rust is galvanizing. It is a process of coating metals like iron or steel with a layer of zinc. It prevents rust from forming on any metal.

You can also cover the whole surface of the fastener with red lead oxide paint or tar. This way the metal doesn’t get exposed to environmental moisture. One other thing you can try is the enameling method.

In this method, the iron surface is baked at a high temperature with a coating of silicate.

Does Vaseline Prevent Rust?

Petroleum jellies like Vaseline are a wonderful household element that can prevent rust. They work as a sealant, form a barrier, and protect the bolt’s/fastener’s surface from being exposed.

This anti-corrosive material keeps water or moisture from coming in contact with metal. All you need to do is simply clean the object that you want to protect and apply a thin coat of Vaseline over it.

Can I Remove Rust from Bolts without Damaging the Threads?

Rusted bolts can sometimes get stuck and freeze in their position completely. You need to be extra careful while removing it from its place. being forceful with it can heavily damage the threads. First, apply lubricant over it and gently tap the bolt with a hammer.

This will allow the lubricant to penetrate deep into the rusted layers and loosen them. You can also use hydrogen peroxide. This solution can instantly dissolve rust. Just pour it over the stuck bolt and leave it for a while and you’ll be good to go.

Wrap Up

As corrosion can directly affect the quality and strength of the fasteners, it is particularly important to keep important machinery free of them. For this, proper installation, regular maintenance, and careful storage are very crucial.

So, check up on your fasteners from time to time and take protective measures when needed. You can use store-bought corrosion-dissolving agents or regular household materials like vinegar, baking soda, or lemon juice to get rid of rust. Whichever method you use, just try to keep the bolts from getting exposed to an extremely humid environment.

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