How to Clean Skeleton Keys

Aaron Ratliff

Skeleton keys were originally designed to act as master keys and prevented locksmiths from having to produce individual keys for each lock they installed. Named for their unique shape, these keys have been around for over 100 years.

You can remove the rust and other debris from a skeleton key without using harmful chemicals.

Cleaning rust and other debris from these keys is necessary to ensure they continue to function properly. Using a few common household items, you can create an environmentally friendly cleaner that will restore the surface of your skeleton keys.

  1. Mix the juice of four lemons with 2 tbsp. of baking soda in a small bowl. The mixture should thicken and form into a paste.

  2. Place the skeleton keys into the mixture and allow them to sit for 20 minutes.

  3. Remove the keys from the paste mixture and use a stiff-bristle brush to rub the paste into the surface of the keys. Return the keys back to the bowl containing the paste for another 20 minutes.

  4. Remove the keys from the mixture and rinse with warm water until all of the cleaning mixture has been removed. Dry the keys thoroughly using a towel to prevent rust from forming on the surface of the keys.


Wear gloves when handling the mixture of lemon juice and baking soda to prevent damage to your hands.