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How to Clean a Tool Box

Depending on the condition of your toolbox, this is quite a major mission and may take some time. Toolboxes can also vary in size and configuration, while some of them can be quite expensive and others more affordable.

So we will take a look at how to get that toolbox cleaned, from the most expensive to cheaper ones. Some of us just do not have time to clean our toolbox regularly, so you will have to put time aside.

In this article, we will take a closer look at what to use and how to clean a tool box properly.

How To Clean A Stainless Steel Toolbox

Stainless steel tool boxes can be found in many places, like in the back of a truck or the trunk of a car. Mostly you will find them in all garages and most homes, even if it is just a small handyman toolbox.

Stainless steel tool boxes have all one thing in common, and that is they all easily oxidize. So if left for a while, they will start to look dull and look much older than they really are.

Luckily this oxidation does not mean your toolbox is starting to rust, so you can still save it. It starts looking dull because the chromium in the steel is reacting with oxygen in the air.

This causes a layer to form on the surface of the stainless steel which causes it to look dull.

Steps To Clean It

If the toolbox is not too dirty, you can get away with an easy and cheap cleaning process. These steps make use of items that are normally found around the house and are easy to use.

White Vinegar

This is the regular white vinegar you use in the kitchen for food and other applications in and around the house. Put some vinegar in a spray bottle and spray a little bit at a time on a small part of the surface.

Now wipe away the vinegar with a clean, dry cloth in the same direction as the grain of stainless steel. If it becomes shiny and looks clean, you can repeat that on another part until the whole toolbox is cleaned.

After the first spray, if it is still dull, spray another dose of vinegar and wipe it off. The surface of the metal should get clean after one or two layers of vinegar sprayed on it.

Do not use something like steel wool on the surface; it might scratch the stainless steel. If you do find scratches, remove them with a block sander and commercial metal polish and sand in the direction of the grain.

Then oil the surface of the metal of your toolbox after cleaning it.

Use Olive Oil

When you find that vinegar does not work well for cleaning your toolbox, you can use olive oil. Do not use the very expensive type; the cheaper one will do the job just fine.

Just apply the olive oil the same way you do with vinegar and it should clean your stainless steel toolbox nicely. An added bonus with olive oil is that you do not need to oil the toolbox after cleaning it.

Baking Soda

If your toolbox is quite dirty, you can use baking soda mixed in water to clean the toolbox. But first, you need to brush away most of the dirt and debris away.

Then pour some of the water and baking soda mixture on the surface and work it in with circular movements. Keep on rubbing until the dullness or the layer on the metal disappears; you may need to use more mixture.

When the metal is starting to shine again, you can wipe it off the direction of the grain.


If these natural products do not work, you can use an anti-rust spray-on oil to clean your toolbox. This product may be a bit more expensive than home products, but it is relatively easy to apply.

You simply spray this oil on the surface after getting rid of most of the debris from the toolbox with a brush. Rub it in the same way as the baking soda mixture in circular movements and wipe it off with a dry cloth.

You need to use some other type of oil to polish the surface after cleaning the toolbox with WD-40.

How To Clean a Metal Toolbox

With a normal small painted metal toolbox, you can easily wash it inside and outside with warm soapy water. First, you should wash the interior with a cloth doused in paint thinner to remove the dirt.

After it has dried completely inside and outside, you can use some basic oil to lubricate the entire toolbox. If you polish it lightly with oil, it will help to stay clean and your toolbox will not rust.

Cleaning an Aluminum Toolbox

First, you should clean away all the debris and dirt inside the toolbox with a brush. Now you can either use a commercial aluminum cleaner, or you can use those solutions used for the stainless steel toolboxes.

The baking soda mixture and white vinegar will work just as well with an aluminum toolbox. Allow some time for the toolbox to get dry before you put the tools back in it.

How To Clean a Plastic Toolbox

To clean a plastic toolbox is the easiest of them all and needs mostly just some warm water and soap. You can easily use a brush to remove the stubborn debris or you can vacuum the interior to get it cleaned.

Now you can use some cleaning solvent or water and soap and thoroughly clean it with a cloth. When you are done rinsing it out, leave it to air dry and it will be ready to use again.


As you can see, most toolboxes can be cleaned using the same household products for quick, easy cleaning. These household products will save you some money in the long run, and they are not difficult to apply.

The best tip on how to clean a tool box is to regularly clean your toolbox, then you won’t need to set aside large periods of time for a deep clean.


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