When you collect Bayonets, you will most certainly encounter rust. Cleaning Rusty Bayonets will not only help them look nicer, it will keep them pristine longer. Now there is certainly debate on if one should clean rust, which some people equate to patina on Antiques. For most antiques, I would certainly agree that some rust can add value and character. With many military items however, rust can ruin both functionality and performance. This is why Cosmoline is so frequently encountered. Cosmoline inhibits the buildup of rust and was used extensively throughout the 20th century to protect military equipment.
When cleaning Rusty Bayonets, I typically use 000 steel wool and oil. It will help lift minor rust off of the blades without sacrificing or ruining the blades finish. Of course you should always – I repeat Always test it out on a small portion of the area in question.
Below are 2 examples of 1905/M1 bayonets that I removed rust from using the above method. As you can see once the rust is removed there are pitted and black areas, that could use further cleaning, but at some point you reach a level where you don’t want to polish or clean the blade too much, because it will certainly lose it’s value to collectors.