How To: Restore and Sharpen Rusted Scissors

Restore and Sharpen Rusted Scissors

Leaving scissors wet or forgetting them outside can cause them to rust. Rusty scissors, if you can even open them, will leave brown marks on everything you attempt to cut through. Attempt is the truth—rust dulls the blades of the scissors making it virtually impossible to cut through any type of material, ranging from paper to fabric. But don't toss the scissors in the trash just yet. You can restore rusted scissors to a usable condition provided they are not completely covered and have rust holes eaten clear through the blades.

Step 1 WD-40

Open and close the scissors to determine if the rust is preventing them from smooth action. If the rust is causing the scissors to stick or if they are difficult to move, spray WD-40 onto the fulcrum. A fulcrum is the point at which anything with lever action allows for movement. Allow the WD-40 to soak in for a minute or two, while you open and close the scissors to let the penetrating oil soak in. Apply more WD-40 as necessary to get the scissors to open and close smoothly.

How to Restore and Sharpen Rusted Scissors

Step 2 Salt Paste

Add ½ cup of table salt to a bowl. Slowly pour in warm water until the salt forms a thick paste much like that of toothpaste.

How to Restore and Sharpen Rusted Scissors

Use a tongue depressor to pick up the paste and spread a thick layer over a section of a brown paper bag. Use approximately half the mixture on the brown paper bag.

How to Restore and Sharpen Rusted Scissors

Open the scissors and position them to cut through the salty layer on the bag. Cut long strips parallel to each other until you have cut strips through the entire salted section. The inside of the blades will be clean at this point—and sharp.

How to Restore and Sharpen Rusted Scissors

Step 3 Salty Lemons

Cut a fresh lemon in half. Dip the exposed fruit side of the lemon into the remaining slat paste. Rub the whole surface area of the scissor blades with the salted lemon. Reapply salt to the lemon as necessary. Continue to work the salt into the metal with the lemon until you are rid of all the rust.

How to Restore and Sharpen Rusted Scissors

Step 4 Water Rinse

Rinse the scissors well with plain water and dry them thoroughly. Apply a light coat of WD-40 over the scissors and wipe away with a clean cloth.

How to Restore and Sharpen Rusted Scissors


If your scissors still are not sharp enough, cut through sheets of coarse-grit sandpaper or pieces of steel wool to sharpen them. Do not use soap-soaked steel wool, use the type found at a hardware store.


  • Use care when cleaning rusted scissors so as not to cut yourself. If you do accidentally cut yourself, seek medical attention if you are not up to date on your tetanus shot.
  • And most of all—never run with scissors through the house or outside.

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For some reason this did not work for me. I followed the instructions and the scissors did get sharp, but the rust is still there. What to do?

I have the same issue, but my blades are a lot darker than the above image. I'm cleaning them using general purpose machine oil (like for a sewing machine), 150 grit sandpaper, and a soft cloth. Time consuming but seems to be cleaning them pretty well.

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