How To Clean Rusty Railroad Spikes – Cheap and Easy

Probably one of the most common things to do as soon as you get some railroad spikes is cleaning them of rust. Whatever you’re planning to do with them, changes are high that you’ll need them clean.
So let’s get to it!

How to Clean Railroad Spikes?

As I mentioned above, this process has to be easy and cheap. I am quite positive that nobody wants to work hours on cleaning railroad spikes, or spend more money on cleaning supplies than on spikes themselves.

Things you need to clean rusty railroad spikes


1 x Large Bucket – a large bucket is needed for the process, a 5GAL one should be enough, of course depends on how many railroad spikes you plan on cleaning. A 5 gallon bucket should be good for 10-15 pieces.

1 x Medium Size Brass Scrub Brush – needed for scrubbing, any brass brush should do it.

White Vinegar – rust reacts to white vinegar, dissolving it. You will need enough white vinegar to cover all of the railroad spikes. If you have a half full 5 gal bucket of railroad spikes, you might need around 2-3 gallons of white vinegar.

What’s the process of cleaning rust out of railroad spikes?

1. Put your railroad spikes into the bucket, note: you might have to do this in batches if more than 10-15 pieces need cleaning.
2. Pour white vinegar in the bucket until you completely cover the spikes.
3. Let it sit for at least 24 hours. Recommended would be 48 hours (the best results I’ve gotten).

After 24-48 hours, remove the railroad spikes and scrub them with the brass brush, applying a good amount of force, scrub them one by one.
That’s about it, at the end of this process, your railroad spikes should be rust free and ready for your next railroad spike art project.

how to clean railroad spikes