How to Clean Snap on Tools

by Claudia Henning

The coating of chrome plating found on Snap On tools is designed to retain shine and luster for many years. Tools that are used frequently will need to be cleaned from time to time. Small areas of rust can develop on the chrome surface, and make the tools look dull and aged. Removing oil, grease and rust can be done quickly using a mild dishwashing soap and vinegar.

Fill a standard household bucket with 1 tsp. of liquid dishwashing soap and 1 gallon of warm water. Place 1 cup of clear white vinegar in a bowl and set aside.

Use the baby bottle brush to scrub each tool individually in the bucket of warm, soapy water. The small scrubbing end can be used to clean the areas inside of sockets and box-end wrenches. Dry them with a soft cotton cloth.

Wad a foot long piece of aluminum foil into a ball. Dip the foil in the vinegar and lightly scrub any areas of the tools that are showing signs of rust or a dull finish. This will quickly brighten them and safely remove the rust.

Place a few drops of unscented baby oil onto a clean cotton cloth. Wipe each tool completely with the oil. Twist the ratchet wrenches as you oil them, and open/close the adjustable ones as well. All moving parts need to be oiled. Finish by wiping each tool down with a dry cotton cloth. Leaving excess oil can affect the grip and cause additional corrosion.


  • check Use the vinegar in a well-ventilated area due to fumes. Do not add too much dishwashing liquid to the water. It will leave a film on the tools.


  • close Do not use steel wool pads to attempt removing rust. It will damage the chrome plating. Eric Ronning, an expert with How to Clean Things, encourages people to remember that chrome is a soft metal, and is used primarily as a thin plating material. Improper cleaning methods could result in the complete removal of portions of the plating.

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