How to Clean an Old Iron Bed

Carlye Jones

An old iron bed from a yard sale, thrift store, flea market or the attic is a great find. Such beds are heavy and well-made, and will provide many more years of enjoyment. Unfortunately, unless the bed has been regularly maintained it is likely to have rust and other dirt that you will need to remove.

A cleaned and restored iron bed makes a wonderful showpiece in the bedroom.

The investment in cleaning an old iron bed is minimal, since household items such as vinegar and lemons, and a mild detergent are all that is necessary to clean up an old iron bed.

  1. Wipe down the entire bed with a rag moistened in a gentle cleanser to remove dust, dirt and debris. Removing surface dirt will help isolate any rusty areas that need additional cleaning.

  2. Rinse the bed by wiping it down with a clean damp rag.

  3. Dry the bed with a clean, soft rag.

  4. Brush away as much rust as possible with a steel wire brush.

  5. Apply vinegar or lemon juice to the rust, saturating the area completely.

  6. Wait at least 10 minutes for the vinegar or lemon juice to penetrate and soften the rust.

  7. Scrub the rust away with steel wool, taking care not to scratch any brass or painted accessories.

  8. Wipe the area clean with a damp rag. Remove as much loosened rust as possible.

  9. Apply more vinegar or lemon juice to any remaining rust, and wait 10 to 15 minutes.

  10. Scrub the rusted area again with steel wool.

  11. Wipe the area clean.

  12. Sand away any remaining rust spots with medium grit sandpaper.

  13. Wipe away all remaining rust debris and sandpaper residue with a clean damp rag.

  14. Dry the bed thoroughly with a clean, soft rag.

  15. Tip

    Wear cleaning gloves to protect your hands from irritation caused by the steel wool and the acid in vinegar and lemon juice. Apply liquid wax after cleaning to prevent future rust.


    Don't leave any damp areas on the bed after cleaning. The bed should be completely dry so that no additional rusting occurs.