How to clean and preserve your horse’s rusty horseshoe


So you may have guessed that I am 0% crafty. LIKE ZERO. I won’t even buy crafts. But I do want to save a horseshoe from my favorite horses. Because I might be 2% sentimental. It’s a few simple steps to clean and preserve a rusty horseshoe.


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Clean the horseshoe before you preserve it


  • You want to clean the horseshoe mostly because they step in poop. And you want the finishing touches to have a clean surface to attach to.


  • I use a stiff wire brush to get all of the earth and poop and mystery things off. This is also a great place to start if you have a rusty shoe that needs to be restored.


rusty horseshoe with metal brush

I removed less of my own skin with a wire brush that had short bristles.


Add acid to help remove rust


  • If you can only get so much of the rust off with your wire brush, add some citric acid or vinegar and let that baby soak.


  • Citric acid is part of the canning process and makes for a great soak to remove rust from a horseshoe. You can use also vinegar, it just might take longer. Like days and days longer. Both are also good for making pickles, if that’s your jam.


  • Let your shoe soak and soak in citric acid (or vinegar) until it shines. I’m sort of impatient, so I’m going to soak, then scrub, then soak it more.


rusty horse show with some rust gone

This horseshoe was brushed within an inch of my life, then I let it soak in some vinegar. You can see the area that I did not brush.


Now prep the horseshoe


  • Of course, oxidation will just create more rust after your cleaning efforts. So you can seal the shoe with a number of products when the rust is gone.


  • I happen to have some clear lacquer in the garage. Done.


  • You can also find spray lacquer or spray paint or any number of things.


  • A quick trip to the hardware store will also reveal many paints designed specifically for metal. This will definitely be more durable than say, watercolors.


bookcase with horseshoes

A small window into what my office looks like.


Now I send you to Pinterest to discover all of the things that you can do with horseshoes now that yours are rust-free, as mine are resting on a shelf behind my desk and literally that’s the best idea I could come up with.


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Metal scrubbing brushes! Just perfect for preserving horseshoes.



White vinegar, for so many projects and cleaning at the barn.



Citric acid for canning and horse projects!



Shadow boxes are great places to display your horse’s shoes and mementos.


Thank you!



how to clean a rusty horseshoe