My large collection of drill bits were found beneath an unfortunate leak in the garage. Some of them are beginning to rust along with my collection of screws and nails. Effective rust removal / prevention ideas are needed. I've tried WD 40 to prevent further deterioration but hasn't made much difference; rust seems to slowly spread throughout my collection. Even things that hadn't got wet are going rusty.

  • Store them indoors in a dry, warm environment. If the garage leaks water and has high humidity, things will rust, so attend to the leak first. Oct 12, 2022 at 19:19

3 Answers 3


This may be considered a product recommendation, which is frowned upon. I'll attempt to make it appropriately broad to avoid the question and answer from being closed.

Paraffin (wax, not kerosene) based products have performed well in the high-humidity environment of the Southeast US. White Lightning is a bicycle chain lube which has dissolved wax in a solvent that later evaporates. Great for bike chains, but also a good rust protectant. Boeing T-9 is superior to White Lightning and is effectively the same composition.

I've installed hurricane fabric using expanding concrete anchors which are typically galvanized. In the humidity, they eventually rust or deteriorate enough that it's challenging to spin the nut on without tools. Applying the T-9 at time of installation has allowed five years of protection and I can still spin the nuts on by hand.

There may be other wax based products that would provide similar protection.

In the case of drill bits, once used, the coating would have to be re-applied. My drill are in a drill index case, for obvious convenience and there might be some scraping of the protection as the bit slides in and out.

The remaining option would be to enclose the bits in a container with desiccant to keep humidity as low as possible. This could become a nuisance as one would have to refresh the desiccant periodically to ensure protection.


rust can be removed from tool steel parts by soaking them overnight in phosphoric acid, which is sold as concrete etch or concrete prep at hardware stores. This product is used to prepare cracked concrete for patching and comes in gallon jugs.

afterwards, rinse thoroughly and remove residue with a wire brush wheel on a drill press.

Then completely wet the bits with WD-40 and store them in a tupperware container with a tight-fitting snap-on lid.


I thought I'd add this as an answer, because it is an answer really, rather than a comment.

I always keep my drill bits in those small, tough little plastic bags (screw/nail bags?). They wrap up neatly, and you can keep old/new, wood/masonry drill bits in separate bags for quick picking.

It won't stop a flood, unless you use resealable bags. I don't because I like to get to them quickly, and I don't see the need anyway.

Mine have been fine wrapped up in those tough little bags.

Maybe spray a spritz of W-D in the bag to coat them to help keep them moisture-free would help, too.

Once rust starts spreading, you need to remove the rusty ones from the good ones. If the rust isn't too bad, you could remove it with a wire brush or something.

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