How to Loosen a Rusted Screw

Over a period of time screws can become rusted and corroded. It can become a major pain in the ass when you try and remove the screws. I had to deal with this recently while working on a project. After a few colorful words and some persistence I managed to get the screws out.

How to Loosen Rusted Stripped Screws


Tools You Will Need

  • WD-40 or penetrating oil
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Screw extractor

Step 1: Inspect the Screw Head

The first thing you need to do is inspect the head of the screw. If it is worn or damaged you may have to cut a slot for the screwdriver.


You can use a hacksaw or rotary tool to cut a new slot in the screw head. This will prevent the screwdriver from slipping out of the head while removing the screw.

Step 2: Spray with Penetrating Oil

Spraying penetrating oil on the rusty screw will increase the chance of removing it. A highly rated penetrating oil that works wonders is Kano Aerokroil Penetrating Oil. WD-40 will also work if you have it on hand.

Let the screw sit for 10 minutes to allow the oil to work its way into the threads.

Step 3: Unscrew the Rusted Screw

When you are turning the screwdriver you need to push against the screw at the same time. It is less likely that the screwdriver will slip out this way. Turn the screwdriver slowly.

Sometimes hitting the screw with a hammer will loosen it. This will usually loosen the rust enough that the screw can be removed.

It this does not get the screw out then you will have to use a screw extractor.
Screw extractors are like reverse drill bits. After drilling a small hole in the screw, the extractor is put in a drill. The drill is then used on the reverse gear to slowly pull the screw out. The teeth of the extractor is designed to dig into the screw and grab it.

Hopefully you have been able to get the rusty or stripped screw out after these steps. Just remember to take your time and not get too frustrated. You don’t want to damage the screws further and ruin the chance or removing it.

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