How to Remove Rust from Pipe Threads? 5 Steps to Done it

The emergence of rust in any of the metal appliances and fittings is a huge scare. It’s worse when the rust has shown up in places like joints and threads.

how to remove rust from pipe threads

The corrosion in these spots progresses much faster than in other parts of the pipe.

There are lots of edges inside that hold in moisture. So, the earlier you get rid of the corrosion the better it is for you.

The question arises, “how to remove rust from pipe threads?”

Removing rust stains from the threads is not too different from cleaning the flat surface of the pipe. But it takes more time and more care to achieve.

In the article below, I’m going to lay out a simple procedure for cleaning your pipe threads. But first, let us ask a question.

Why Does Rust Occur in Pipe Threads?

Why Does Rust Occur in Pipe Threads

The short answer is that it’s because of the oxidization process. When atmospheric oxygen comes in contact with metal, the resulting chemical reaction produces metal oxides. This eats away the metal slowly, and that is called rust.

But, the metal used in pipes for both industrial and residential use is usually the galvanized type. If galvanized metal prevents corrosion, why are there rusts?

Well, you got it partly right. Galvanized metal does provide protection against corrosion. But these are well-protected only in the ideal scenario. If the metal is exposed to lots of moisture for too long, corrosion is extremely likely. It’s a time-dependent condition.

The thin layer of zinc cannot protect the pipes forever against oxidization. And since the pipe threads are exposed to more moisture, they are always the first victims of corrosion.

How to Remove Rust from Pipe Threads? Best 6 Methods

The Best Methods to Remove Rust from Pipe Threads

If you have experienced rust present in your pipes, you’ll have to apply a few different methods to take care of it. Here’s how you can do it, But first, here’s a list of items you’ll need:

  • Sandpaper, grit level 200-300
  • Wire brush
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Remover oil
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Lemon juice
  • Paper towel
  • Naval jelly

Here’s a bit of tidbit about Naval Jelly. It was an invention before World War II. It was used to remove rust from naval ships during the war and that is where it got its famous name.

It’s a great solution for removing rust from all kinds of ferrous metals. It can also remove the bluing from steel.

Removing Rust Step by Step Guide

• Step 1: Clear the Joints

Clear the Joints

The first step would be to get rid of the rust build-up in the joints. For that, you need to make a solution of baking soda and vinegar. Mix vinegar and baking soda in a pot. You can add hot water to dilute the solution. Pour the solution on the joints, and let it sit for at least 10 minutes, it really dissolves rust.

Take the wire brush, and start clearing the rust build-up. It should come off easily. Some bits won’t come off easily. In that case, take a large Philips screwdriver and start poking at them.

• Step 2: Wash and Dry

Wash and Dry Pipe Threads

Now, take a bit of warm water and wash the joints to get rid of the dirt. Then, dry it off with paper towels.

Relevant post >> How Long Does Pex Piping Last

• Step 3: Apply Remover Oil

pipe rust Remover Oil

The remover oil is a chemical stripper. It comes in aerosol form. Spray it on the threads carefully to coat every millimeter.

What if you don’t have access to remover oil? Well, don’t worry. There’s a homemade formula for you.

Pour baking soda into a pot/container. Add to it a little bit of lemon juice and sodium bicarbonate. Mix them slowly. You’ll see a foamy paste forming. Now apply the paste to the rusted area using a brush.

Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, and go to the next step.

• Step 4: Use the Sandpaper


Take a piece of 300 grit sandpaper, and rub them on the spots gently. We’ll try to minimize the metal shavings.

Since you’re cleaning the threads, you have to focus on the places between the crests. It’s called the root of the thread. I call it the top part of the threading.

Here’s a picture for visualization.


Here’s how I usually clean this part. Place the sandpaper on the thread and using a thin metal pin, push the sandpaper between the crests. Slowly sand it.
Clean it with a paper towel after you’re done.

• Step 5: Apply Naval Jelly

Naval Jelly
Naval Jelly

Use naval jelly to get rid of any rust that’s remaining. Apply a thin coat of naval jelly to the rust spots. Do not use your bare hands. Use gloves or apply with a sponge.

Leave it like that for the recommended period. You’ll find the specified time on the Naval Jelly bottle.

• Step 6: Wash with Water

Wash with Water

Pour water over the spots you applied the Naval Jelly and remove every bit. It’s recommended to collect the water in a pot since it’s chemical and you don’t want it seeping into the soil. Even indoors cleaning the wastewater is such a hassle, trust me.

Using normal water is fine, but it’s still recommended to use distilled water.
Next, take a cloth and wet it. Use it to wash the narrow spots. Then dry the pipe with Paper Towel.

Safety Precautions

Safety Precautions

Since you’re going to be dealing with chemical solutions, metal shavings from sanding, and corroded metal, it is a health hazard on some level. You need to protect yourself.

Here are a few suggestions.

  • Wear a respirator – it’ll prevent the rust particles from going to your lungs with inhalation. Make sure to do the cleaning in a ventilated space.
  • Wear gloves – It’s for handling chemicals.
  • Wear goggles – To protect your eyes from the metal shavings.

A Bonus Tip

When you’re done cleaning process the rusty pipe threading, you have to make sure the rust stains don’t happen again. To do that, you can again put the pipe through a galvanization process. It’ll give the metal its rust resistance back.

However, you can’t rely on painting or severe rusting coatings since it’s a thread.

Final Words

Rusts are inevitable when you’re dealing with metal pipes. But getting rid of it is also simple enough to not become a burden.

In the above discussion (How to Remove Rust from Pipe Threads?) this step-by-step guide should be more than enough to help you take care of your metal pipes. I may have gone a bit overkill with so many ingredients.

But it’s only to make sure there’s no single speck of rust remaining on the plumbing system. And remember, no matter what, always ensure safety when dealing with chemicals and rusted metal.

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