What Is the Best Way To Clean Sockets?

Regardless of the size of your DIY project, you’ll probably be using a socket or two from time to time. Since it’s among a DIYer’s most commonly used tools, it’s understandable why they get dirty and greasy quite easily.

Learning how to make socket organizer clean means protecting your tools from corrosion and rust at the same time. By keeping dirt and grime at bay, you can expect many years of service from your precious sockets.

The Different Ways To Clean Sockets

Got too many rusty sockets in your tools collection? You can solve this problem with proper maintenance and storage practices before it becomes an even bigger issue. After all, your tools are only as good as how you take care of them.

In a nutshell, you can make your sockets last forever if you simply learn how to clean them before storage. It could be as simple as using an old toothbrush and a rag, or you might need to use a metal brush, sandpaper, and a degreaser.

To give you an idea of what to expect, here are the basics you’ll want to keep in mind when cleaning sockets and wrenches:

Regular Cleaning and Storage

Your sockets are rusty because they get exposed to the elements. When it comes to sockets, the most important thing is keeping the surface dry. You can dry them with a clean piece of cloth after every use and seek the assistance of a water-displacing oil.

You will want to store your sockets in case they arrive in or in a tool chest. Even better, you can easily make your DIY socket organizer. The goal is to keep them safe from the elements, dirt, and dust. Plus, keeping them organized means it’ll be easier to find the socket you need when you need it.

Make it a point to wipe each socket with a clean rag to get rid of dirt and dust before storage. In fact, if you won’t be using them for a while, take the time to clean them during your downtimes. This way, you can be sure they will last for years.

Dirt and Grime Removal

Don’t lose hope just yet if you notice dirt and grime buildup. You may be able to remove them using soapy water. Mix about a tablespoon of dishwashing soap to a gallon of lukewarm water. Then, clean your sockets using a sponge.

You may need to use a degreaser or a lubricant if soap and water don’t do it. Afterward, wipe them dry with a clean rag, ensuring no moisture is left before storing. Alternatively, you can also use a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice. This baking soda + lemon paste should help remove stubborn dirt.

Dealing With Rust

When exposed to water and oxygen, sockets will rust, making them prone to damage. Rust is like plaque; it damages and weakens the metal over time. That said, even if your sockets develop rust, you can still save them as long as they have no holes.

To do this, you will need to use a brass wire brush and sandpaper afterward. Try to remove as much corrosion as possible and then rinse and dry before storing. This technique will only work if only a small part of the socket is rusty.

Getting Rid of More Stubborn Rust

Socket Cleaning image

For more stubborn rust covering a larger area, you can try using vinegar and salt. Simply mix four tablespoons of salt to four cups of white vinegar and put the sockets in the mixture.

Keep in mind that this could take days, so you must check your sockets regularly with your metal brush. Be careful not to leave the sockets too long in the mixture, or it will affect the chrome finish.

Aside from the salt and vinegar mixture, others prefer using Coca-Cola. The citric acid in the drink helps break away rust. If you wish to try this, simply soak the sockets in soda overnight. Then, wash with soap and water in the morning before drying and storing them.

If that still didn’t do it, you might have a better chance if you use oxalic acid. For this method, make sure you do this outdoors and that you’re wearing goggles and rubber gloves.

Mix three tablespoons of oxalic acid into a bucket of water and allow the sockets to soak in it for about 20 minutes. Then, wash and dry them thoroughly.

Socket Cleaning Procedures

person cleaning a socket image

There are certain procedures of cleaning sockets, so let’s go through them briefly.

Compressed Air

Compressed air should be blown into the socket chamber using a clean, dry air source. If at all possible, adjust the nozzle tip’s angle and position so that any dust or debris inside of the socket nest can be pushed on from various angles and has the best chance of being forced out of the frame. The distance between the tip and the socket will rely on how much air is flowing through the nozzle, but generally speaking, during this process, the tip ought to be kept at least 2.54cm (1 inch) away from the socket. Maximum line pressure is 30 pounds. The use of this cleaning method should be prioritized over all others and utilized as a follow-up method after any other cleaning method.

Soft Bristle Brush Cleaning

Typically, dust and detritus found within the socket nest are removed with the help of a soft bristle brush cleaning. To help remove any dust or debris, carefully brush the socket nest from various angles.

3M Magic Tape

An elastomer socket’s pad can be cleaned using this if dust or other debris have gathered there. Put the magic tape on the cushion, then quickly remove it to complete the task. The concept is that any dirt or dust will sstuck to the tape, allowing it to be thrown away. Avoid letting the tape rest on the floor and applying too much pressure when pressing it into position. Please be aware that excessive pressure may harm the Elastomer pad.  This approach should only be used if  a problematic situation arsis. 

Nanotek Brush Cleaning

Usually, Nanotek Brush Cleaning is used to assist in removing contamination from contact pins that is the result of solder migration. To do this, carefully brush the socket’s pins. Due to the metal nature of the brush type, additional care must be taken to prevent damage to the device pins. The amount of pressure needed to carefully clean a socket pin is comparable to the pressure you use to brush your teeth. 

Never press the Nanotek brush when cleaning; always pull it. The bristles of the brush may deform if it is pressed, which will shorten its lifespan. The bristles of a brush have a slight angle when viewed from the side; use this angle to your benefit when squeezing into tight spaces instead of pushing the brush vertically into the socket.

Prevention Is Always Better

In the end, the best way to clean sockets is to make sure you take care of them properly in the first place. You must remove dirt, dust, and moisture before putting them away. Don’t forget to clean both the inside and the outside parts when doing this.

While sockets have a protective coating, dirt and dust can easily scratch away at the surface. Plus, they will hold on to moisture, leading to rust and corrosion.