A kitchen outfitted with gleaming stainless steel equipment and worktops is almost the picture of clean and professional at its best. However, when the heavy, supposedly unbreakable metal that makes up your kitchen sink, countertops, and pots and pans rust, the costly aesthetic appears far worse than if it were truly harmed.
Homeowners who are coping with these flaws may wonder, “Isn’t stainless steel meant to be, well, stainless?” Though the name may be deceptive, any device constructed of chromium-based metal may readily corrode if not properly cared for. Fortunately, there is no need to panic!
If you’re one of the many people who has left utensils or frying pans in the kitchen sink for longer than you’d want to admit, don’t give up on eliminating ugly surface stains just yet. In fact, the solutions—yes, there are a few—are so easy that they’re probably there in front of you if you’re in the kitchen.
Continue reading to learn how to remove rust from stainless steel in the kitchen and around the home.
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How to Prevent Rust Before It Ever Starts
Water is the primary cause of rust, thus it’s critical to keep items clean and dry. After using a knife, it should be cleaned and dried as quickly as possible. (Do not leave them in the sink and do not put them in the dishwasher.) Metal objects, especially tools, should be stored in a dry, low-humidity environment.
You may also apply a protective coating to metal surfaces to prevent rust from developing. Apply a little amount of mineral oil on the knife—including the joints—two to three times each year with a soft cloth. Paste wax or WD-40 can be used to treat tools.
Strong chemical cleaning solutions are not required for routine cleaning of your stainless steel sink, cutlery, and appliances. All you need is a mild soap and warm water solution to clean while eliminating common problems like dirt, dust, and fingerprints.
The following are a handful of cleaning ideas and alternatives that are typically eco-friendly and may be simply produced using items you already have at home. Remember not to use any steel brush or steel scrub to prevent causing damage, scratches, or extra rust on your utensils and sink!
How To Remove Rust from Stainless Steel
Did you know that WD-40 Multi-Use-Product may be used to remove rust stains? Because it is so easy and quick, using WD-40 for rust removal is one of the finest rust treatments. Simply put WD-40® on the object and scrape it with a clean wire brush. Simply test a tiny area first to guarantee that this rust removal procedure does not damage your metal. WD-40® may be used to clean metal bike chains, remove rust from furniture, and do a variety of other tasks.
Apply WD-40 to your metal goods after use to remove the rust and prevent it from returning. You may also use WD-40 Specialist Penetrant as a metal rust cure. It is intended to penetrate rust and dirt, making rust removal simpler.
Cream of Tartar Method
To begin, mix a few drops of lemon juice with a full tablespoon of cream of tartar. This will result in a paste, which you can then apply to any rusty areas on your stainless steel. Then you’ll need a soft sponge to wipe the paste over any obvious rust spots on the metal surface. After you’ve treated all of the oxidation areas, just wash away the paste with another damp sponge and dry the metal with a dishcloth.
Baking Soda Method
When only a few unsightly spots remain on the edge of a pan or the front of your dishwasher, make a paste of 1 tablespoon baking soda and 2 cups water. (Skip on to the following set of steps if you have bigger rust areas.) Baking soda is a very mild abrasive, so you can relax knowing that you’re fighting rust in a chemical-free method that won’t harm your stainless steel.
Using a soft, clean cloth, rub the paste onto your stainless steel surface in the direction of the grain.
Finally, with a moist paper towel, rinse and gently wipe the afflicted area.
Rinse the larger surface area well to remove any dirt and dampen the surface, whether it’s the basin of your sink or a piece of your stainless steel countertops. Immediately after that, sprinkle a coating of baking soda on top, being careful to cover the whole rusted area.
Allow the baking soda layer to rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
Roll up your sleeves and get to cleaning! Scrub using a soft bristle brush or, if you’re out of cleaning brushes, use an old toothbrush that you may have kept for this purpose.
Rinse well and pat dry with a paper towel.
Lemon Juice Method
This tried-and-true method for removing oxidation from stainless steel surfaces involves combining equal parts baking soda and lemon juice to make a paste. This paste would then be used to thoroughly cover the rust spots on the metal surface before being washed away with a moist sponge. If this does not entirely remove the oxidation, reapply the paste and let it remain for 30 minutes before removing. If you don’t have lemon juice on hand, lime juice can work just as well.
Dish Soap and Potato Method
When it comes to removing rust, dish soap and potato are also useful household products. Sliced a potato in half and add dish soap to the cut end. This will cause a chemical reaction between the end and the rust, making it simple to wash off.
Place the potato on the surface of the metal item and left it there for a few hours. If you need to reapply, just cut the old end off and add dishwashing soap to the new end. After then, place it on the metal surface for a longer period of time.
Oxalic Acid Method
If you’ve ever left damp cast iron pans in the sink, you’ve probably awoken to the ominous sight of rust adorning a once-perfectly polished stainless steel sink. A forgivable blunder, to be sure. But how should it be handled? You could want to beef up your cleaning arsenal by using an oxalic acid-based cleanser. True, not all stainless steel reacts similarly. When a baking soda bath does not enough, oxalic acid-based cleansers provide a very efficient alternate technique for dissolving rust and removing stains.
Follow the package’s directions and apply a liberal amount of oxalic acid-containing cleanser to the afflicted region. General Electric suggests Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser (a grit-free liquid cleanser), which may be found for less than $10 at your local big-box home improvement shop. Two other extremely effective, rust-busting cleaners containing this crucial component are Revere Ware Copper and Stainless Steel Cleaner/Polish and Kleen King Stainless Steel and Copper Cleaner, all of which may be found at your local food store. Caustic cleansers containing chlorides should be avoided since their abrasive character will simply exacerbate the damage to the steel.
Once the cleaner has dried, massage it in the direction of the metal grain lines with a soft, slightly moist sponge. Again, a little elbow grease is necessary here, but it is well worth it for the dazzling result!
Finally, rinse well with clean water and gently towel dry.
Citric Acid Method
Citric acid (typically obtained in a powered box style) is an excellent chemical for eliminating rust and is widely available in most stores.
Fill a plastic bottle halfway with boiling water and add the powdered citric acid.
To restore your tools, equipment, and surfaces to bare metal, immerse your rusted things in your rust cleaning solution. Prepare sure the container in which you make the solution is large enough to accommodate your metal object. Cover the metal object completely with the citric acid rust cleaning. Allow it to sit overnight and then rinse in the morning. After that, dry with a clean cloth.
Take Care of the Stain with a Commercial Stainless Steel Cleaner
If home treatments and pure oxalic acid do not remove the rust, use a high-powered cleaner. Commercial stainless steel cleaners contain active ingredients that will remove nearly every stainless steel stain you can think of.
Put on your protective equipment and dampen the sponge with the cleaner. You just need a small amount to clean a huge area. Apply the polish directly to the rusted area.
Until the stain is gone, run in the direction of the grain. Rinse the area with water and pat dry with a clean towel.
Things To Avoid When Cleaning Rust
Whatever you do to remove rust, avoid using steel wool, steel brushes, or any cleaning containing fluorine, chlorine, bromine, or iodine (to name but a few elements in the chloride family). Remember that chlorides are so abrasive that they will scratch the “stainless” surface, making it prone to corrosion. Furthermore, stronger cleansers and cleaning pads, such as steel wool, can produce harmful scratches or, worse, leave a bothersome residue of particles that can lead to another unpleasant rust encounter.
Of course, to avoid rust in the future, it’s essential to keep moisture to a minimum around any stainless steel equipment. Refrigerators are especially vulnerable if you live near the ocean and breathe salty air—or if you share the kitchen with people who have tiny, eager fingers and pour liquids into the nooks and crannies of your fridge! So, if you see a splash or spill, don’t put it off till later—grab a mop or an absorbent paper towel and get to work. Your sparkling stainless-steel-enhanced kitchen will be grateful.
To preserve that gleaming sheen throughout your kitchen, wipe away smudges and fingerprints on a regular basis using warm water and a light soap or dish detergent. Then, give these stainless steel surfaces a brief washing with a moistened towel saturated with new water, and don’t forget to dry! With another clean towel, remove any lingering water or leftover droplets, and you can eradicate moisture before it starts the troublesome cycle all over again.