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Clean Wrought Iron

How Do You Clean Wrought Iron | Tips From The Experts

Wrought iron has a long and impressive history and is still renowned for its unique properties, from its durability and aesthetics to its strength and malleability. But like most things that are affected by wear and tear, it does need regular maintenance. So whether you want to do some upkeep on your sturdy wrought iron fencewhether you want to do some upkeep on your sturdy wrought iron fence or your favourite piece of wrought iron furniture, how do you clean wrought iron to keep it in top condition and extend its life?  or your favourite piece of wrought iron furniture, how do you clean wrought iron to keep it in top condition and extend its life?

The best way to clean wrought iron


To clean your wrought iron effectively and efficiently, you will need:

  • Two buckets or spray bottles
  • A mild cleanser
  • Sponges
  • Rags
  • A file
  • Steel wool

Step-by-step guide

Step 1: Clear a space outside that will cope with dirt and water.

Step 2: When cleaning wrought iron, fill your spray bottles or buckets with warm water. Use spray bottles for smaller items and buckets for larger items. With the buckets, fill one with warm water for cleaning and one with warm water for rinsing. If you have access to a hose, you’ll only need one spray bottle or bucket, as you can use the hose for rinsing.

Step 3: Prepare the cleaning solution. Add a mild cleanser to one of the spray bottles and the ‘cleaning’ bucket. Dish soap, liquid soap or a gentle household cleaner should be fine to use; however, avoid antibacterial soaps or cleaners that contain bleach, as they may damage the wrought iron. Vinegar may work as well; however, probably won’t remove tough stains on outdoor items. Follow these ratios for cleansers:

  • Liquid soap – 1 tablespoon to 950mL of water
  • Household cleaner – ¼ cup to 1900mL of water
  • White vinegar – ½ cup to 1900mL of water

Step 4: Remove non-wrought iron material if possible. Depending on what you are cleaning (for example, wrought iron furniture), it may have timber or upholstered components. Remove these if you can before cleaning. Non-wrought iron sections may also be able to be unbolted from the wrought iron components. If not, be careful when you clean where the two materials meet. Cling wrap is useful for covering up the non-wrought iron sections so they don’t get wet or dirty.

Step 5: In terms of the best way to clean wrought iron, remove dirt and dust by cleaning the wrought iron in a circular motion with a sponge, working on small sections at a time. Don’t be too vigorous, as too much force may damage the surface of the wrought iron, making it susceptible to rust.

Step 6: Rinse the item thoroughly with a clean sponge and the rinsing water in your second spray bottle or bucket. If you have access to one, you can also use a hose. It’s essential no debris or grime remains on the surface of the wrought iron. If you wring out your sponge and the water is clear, you’re ready for the next step. If not, keep rinsing.

Step 7: Allow the wrought iron to dry completely. Indoor items should be wiped with a clean cloth until all excess moisture is removed. Outdoor items can be left to dry in the sun. If you want to speed the process up, you can also use a hairdryer or portable fan.

How to clean rust off wrought iron

Once you’ve performed the basic steps to clean your wrought iron, there are a few other more intensive steps that will help with restoration and rejuvenation, particularly if you notice rust spots. Rust is a natural enemy of wrought iron, so it should be dealt with as soon as possible. In terms of cleaning rust off wrought iron.

Step 1: File down the rust. If your wrought iron fencing or furniture looks a little worse for wear, use a coarse wire brush, sandpaper or a piece of steel wool to remove any ingrained dirt or visible rust spots that can’t be removed with a general clean alone. A brass wire wheel attached to a power drill can also work well.

Step 2: If the wrought iron has stubborn rust spots, you can also try phosphoric acid. It converts rust into iron phosphate, which looks like a black hard crust. Apply as per the manufacturer’s instructions and leave on until the chemical reaction occurs. Phosphoric acid can be bought as a gel or spray, so use whichever will be easiest to apply. A spray may be better for hard-to-reach areas.

Step 3: When cleaning rust off wrought iron, once the conversion has taken place, use a wire brush or sandpaper to lightly remove the iron phosphate. Note: Take care when using this product. Use protective personal safety gear, including glasses, gloves and a mask.

Step 4: Once you’ve dislodged all the rust and exposed the clean wrought iron underneath, brush away the excess flakes and re-clean the item to ensure that any tiny remnants of rust are removed.

Step 5: If damaged paintwork needs to be restored, prepare the surface for refinishing by removing any visible rust with sandpaper, or consider renting a portable sandblaster to speed up the process. Remove any dust or debris, then rinse and dry the surface.

Step 6: Paint on a rust-resistant primer, ensuring all surfaces are evenly coated.

Step 7: Use a paint specifically suited to outdoor metal products and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use it. This will ensure your item has the ultimate protection from the elements. Paint once, allow to dry thoroughly, and then apply a second coat. If spray painting, ensure adequate ventilation and use a drop cloth to prevent paint staining any surfaces.

Step 8: Repeat as needed.

Preventative maintenance of wrought iron

Preventative maintenance is also worth undertaking to prolong the life of wrought iron. Remove dirt, dust and sand regularly with a feather duster or a lint-free microfibre cloth. Regularly buff the item with a soft, lint-free cloth. Use a specially formulated wax product and a soft cloth to apply it with small circular motions. Allow it to dry completely, and then use the reverse of the cloth to polish the wrought iron. This will protect it from wear, and in the case of outdoor items, it will also protect it from the harsh Australian elements. Plastic covers can also safeguard items like wrought iron furniture.


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