Grab A Potato The Next Time Your Outdoor Furniture Gets Rusty

Cleaning your outdoor furniture so it can soak in the glorious sun during summer and spring is an annual task many look forward to each year. But if you have metal outdoor furniture, odds are you'll deal with rust at some point. The deadly combination of iron, oxygen, and humidity works against metal furnishings, making them susceptible to oxidation or rusting. If left untreated, the dirty brown and red coating will not only diminish the aesthetic appeal of metal items but also damage them structurally. Over time, rust will decompose metal, attacking and, consequently, destabilizing the structural integrity of that metal outdoor chair, table, bench, etc. But, there's a solution — in your kitchen. The next time you notice your metal outdoor furniture is getting rusty, just grab a potato.

The potato hack works against rust on metal furnishings because of the root vegetable's oxalic acid — an organic chemical that transforms stubborn iron aggregates into solvable ions. Simply put, this unassuming vegetable will help you get rid of the unsightly rust from your metal outdoor furniture without much effort or strain on the pockets.

How to use a potato to eliminate rust

To begin, choose a firm potato that's relatively fresh. Now, use a fine sandpaper to clean your outdoor metal furniture and remove as much rust as possible. You can even use a baking soda-and-water solution to break down the oxidation on the metal items. Next, slice a potato in half and then use one of the halves to rub along the rust-affected areas. Apply light pressure to break the rust's hold on the metal furnishing. Once you see the rusty layer coming off, use a clean cloth to polish off the surface and help your outdoor furniture look spick and span.

For added strength, apply some salt to the sliced spud. The salt will absorb the potato's liquid, forcing oxalic acid to bubble up to the surface. A natural abrasive, salt is also particularly helpful in its own right in removing stubborn rust from metal fixtures. Combined, salt and potato make for an effective and budget-friendly rust-removing duo. After adding salt to half of the root vegetable, rub the half along the oxidized patches of your outdoor furniture as before and let it sit for a minute or two before scrubbing the furniture clean with a cloth.

Note, if dealing with particularly nasty rust, you might need to replace your fresh potato tool a number of times (so it's a good idea to have a bag of potatoes at the ready, just in case), as well as sprinkle on more salt. In case you aren't too keen on using salt on your outdoor furniture, though, you can substitute salt with mild dish soap.