Removing Rust From Stainless Steel
November 10, 2010
Home ImprovementHow ToDIY
Fact.  Stainless steel + stubborn rust = every kitchen lover's nemesis.  And because we've all been there (oh, have we ever), we thought it only right to share with you some helpful tips from Erin Loechner that make ridding your sink of that unsightly rust super easy.  I'm talking everything from lemon juice to lighter fluid helping keep your kitchen sparkling clean...


From Erin Loechner... Despite its name, stainless steel does rust. But if your stainless steel sink is corroded, there's no need to replace it just yet. With a bit of know-how and easy cleaning tricks, you can remove rust in a flash!

Nothing's worse than washing plates after dinner in a rusty sink. While stainless steel doesn't rust as easily or in the same manner as regular steel, contrary to popular belief, it is not stain-proof. Stainless-steel kitchen sinks are sometimes even more susceptible to rust when other wet objects, such as cast iron pans, utensils or flatware are left in the sink for long periods of time. The metal reacts with the water and Galvanic Corrosion occurs, leading to the discoloration you see on the sink's surface area.

There are over 150 grades of stainless steel, and some are more prone to corrosion than others. In general, the higher the chromium content, the less likely the steel will rust. Check with your manufacturer or warranty to determine the chromium content of your stainless-steel sink, and if shopping for a replacement, be sure to opt for a high chromium count.

Luckily, you don't need to buy a new sink to tackle rust now. Try these easy, homemade cleaning solutions to make your stainless-steel sparkle:

- Vinegar: Simply pour a generous amount of vinegar onto a soft scouring pad* for an eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemicals. The stain will lift immediately.

- Lemon juice and baking soda: 
Create a paste from equal parts lemon juice and baking soda, then scrub with a damp sponge. For tougher stains, leave the paste on for 15-30 minutes, then wipe clean.

- Lemon juice and cream of tartar: Mix one tablespoon of cream of tartar with a few drops of lemon juice to create a paste, then smooth it on rust spots and rub it in vigorously with a soft sponge.

- Club soda: Buff rust scuffs with a soda-dampened cloth.

- Lighter fluid: If all else fails, try pouring lighter fluid on a clean cloth and scrubbing the rust spots clean. For safety, keep in mind that lighter fluid is highly flammable and can be toxic for the environment, so use this option as a last resort -- and never around an open flame (make sure all nearby stove burners are off).

In no time at all, your stainless sink will shine brighter than that cast-iron pot -- just keep the two away from each other to avoid more rust in the future!

*Avoid hard metals and heavy scouring pads, as they can easily scratch the surface of your sink.


Photography: Kelly Braman Photography