How To Get Rust Off Stainless Steel

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Do stainless steel appliances and utensils take up most of the space in your kitchen? If they do, we’re sure you wouldn’t want them to catch rust and turn into something that looks like it’s been left in an abandoned warehouse for decades.

Rusted appliances look bad, and you might want to get rid of them even if they’re still functional. But wait, what if you can remove rust? Is there a magic trick or special ingredient that will help you dismantle rust without too much trouble?

The name stainless steel may suggest that it is completely free of stains, but that’s not the case. Any appliance or utensil made with this chromium-based metal can easily rust if not looked after properly. The chromium film on its surface makes it resistant to rust and tarnishing. If this chromium film is removed, the utensil will begin to decay.

Luckily, there’s no need to panic. As susceptible stainless steel is to rust, it is easy to get rid of these days using some household ingredients.

Use Natural Ingredients To Remove Rust Off Stainless Steel

Your kitchen itself is a place that holds the solution to this problem. Yes, you can create a DIY stain cleaning solution at your home, naturally. There are several household ingredients that will help you oxidize chromium metal. Some can even banish rust stains within minutes. If you have to remove corrosion from a small area, here are a few things you can use:

1. Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the first natural cleaners that comes to mind when it’s time for dependable cleaning power. Baking soda is ideal for cleaning coins, laundry, and tile grout since to its mild abrasiveness and cleaning ability. Similarly, it is our first choice when it comes to removing rust stains from stainless steel appliances. Just follow the steps mentioned below;

  • Start with cleaning the stain with a mild soapy solution.
  • Take a bowl and add some water to it. Then, add about two tablespoons of baking soda and stir the solution till you get a paste-like consistency.
  • Apply this paste to the rusty area and leave for 30 minutes.
  • Once that time is up, scrub off the dirt using a toothbrush or an old toothpick.
  • Rinse with clean water once the stain is gone and clean with a dry cloth.
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2. Cream Of Tartar

We know the cream of tartar is unheard of compared to the other ingredients on this list, but it is just as powerful in fighting off rust stains from stainless steel appliances. Cream of tartar is a powdered form of tartaric acid that, like acetic acid, eats away at rust stains with ease. Here are the steps you can follow if you want to use this method to clean your sink or utensils using the cream of tartar.

  • Start with cleaning the stainless steel surface with a soft rag soaked in any mild, soapy solution. Make sure to rinse off all extra soap from the utensil.
  • Next up, take a bowl and add about two tablespoons of cream of tartar and mix it with water till you get a paste- add two drops of lemon juice in it.
  • Dip a sponge into this solution and run it across the rusty area until the stain lifts off. Allow this paste to sit on the stain for a couple of minutes and then scrub off using a clean cloth.
  • If you need, add more cream of tartar solution to get rid of rust stains from utensils quickly without any hassle.

3. Vinegar

If there’s one thing that can help you if both baking soda and cream of tartar fail to, then it’s vinegar. This household ingredient is a very versatile cleaning solvent that has been used for centuries. It works as a gentle abrasive by cutting through the rust and loosening up dirt, making it easy to wipe off. Moreover, its acidic nature helps break down any remaining rust spots on stainless steel surfaces for an efficient clean without too much effort on your part.

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Not only is it an excellent cleaning solvent, but it works to sanitize the appliances as well. Many people use vinegar to clean both the inside and outside of stainless steel appliances, like a coffee pot. If you follow the steps mentioned below regularly, it will also serve as a great way to prevent rust stains altogether.

  • Take a big bowl and add some white vinegar to it and submerge the stainless steel utensil or appliance into it.
  • If the item is too big to be submerged in the bowl, then apply this solution to the rusty areas and let it sit for five minutes or so before scrubbing off with a sponge.
  • Scrub any remaining hint of stains with a toothbrush, working until the rust stains are completely gone.
  • Rinse the item or appliance with water, and wipe it dry with a clean cloth.

Best Way To Remove Stubborn Stains From Stainless Steel

There are times when the rust stains overpower the area and are more stubborn to get off. During these times, using baking soda or vinegar won’t help you. Instead, it will just lead you to erode the quality of the utensil.

So what do you do? If you run into a stubborn stain that your home remedies can’t handle, you’ll need to use more powerful chemicals. While there are many cleaning agents, we recommend oxalic acid, which has been reviewed and trusted to remove any kind of rust stains altogether.

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Clean Stubborn Rust Stains With Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid is a cleaning agent that works well for rust stains. It’s usually found in powdered form, so you’ll have to mix it with either water or vinegar before applying the solution to the rusty utensil. It is a critical solvent that is often used in metal cleaning solutions. Let’s see what the best way to use it on stainless steel is.

Pro tip: Wear appropriate safety gear and provide adequate ventilation when working with oxalic acid since long-term exposure can irritate your skin, eyes, and lungs.

  • Once you’ve worn the safety gear, take a container and add water to it. Now, add about 2 tablespoons of oxalic acid to it. Mix well until you get a homogenous solution.
  • Dip a brush into the solution- make sure that the bristles are pointing downwards-, and apply it to the rust stains before scrubbing them off with a soft sponge.
  • After you’re done scrubbing, rinse the utensil with clean water and wipe it dry.

Perform these steps every few months to keep your stainless steel appliances free of rust stains for longer durations.

This Is What You Should Not Use To Clean Stains On Stainless Steel

It is always good to keep your friends close but your enemies closer, and that saying also goes for stainless steel appliances. The trick to getting rid of rust stains efficiently is by knowing your enemy. There are certain household items that we use for cleaning and disinfection that can actually damage stainless steel appliances.

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Sometimes, even if we don’t mean to, we might also cause more harm than good by using them alongside cleaner agents like baking soda and vinegar. Below is a list of all of the items you should avoid;

1. Metal Abrasive Cleaners: Never use metal abrasives, such as steel wool or steel brushes. These scratch stainless steel and expose it to more rust.

2. Chloride cleaners: Steer clear of cleaners that contain bromine, fluorine, iodine, or any other chloride. Chlorides are too rough and will produce discolored discs with a hazy, dull appearance on your stainless steel that can corrode and rust.

Avoid Rust To Collect On Stainless Steel Items

Since we don’t live in a dimension where you can simply situate your stainless steel appliances in airtight chambers without opening them, it is necessary to know what are some of the ways that can help us avoid collecting rust on stainless steel items.

One of the contributing factors is moisture. The best way to go about it is to minimize any moisture around your stainless steel appliances. Try to avoid contact with water as much as possible, or at least do not use it for a more extended period of time. Refrigerators are particularly prone to damage if you live in a coastal region with salt-rich air, or if you frequently spill liquids into the nooks and crannies of your fridge! Grab the mop or towel instantly without delay and clean off the spilled water.

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Another factor that contributes to rust is heat, so be sure to keep your stainless steel items away from heat sources such as radiators and stoves.

Wipe away any smudges or fingerprints you see with a mild detergent solution in everyday cleaning to avoid corrosion. Also, try to dry any wet utensils that you use for cooking on stainless steel surfaces before you put them away.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it possible to scrub off the rust from stainless steel?

Yes, you may use various methods, such as a paste created from baking soda and water or any acidic domestic product. If these measures do not work, you can buy a commercial rust remover from local hardware or a home improvement shop.

2. What household products can be used to remove rust from stainless steel?

You can use baking soda to remove rust stains from stainless steel because it helps break down the iron oxide. White vinegar is another acidic liquid that you can use for this purpose. These ingredients are natural and perform well to remove small corrosive areas from the surface.

3. Is it true that salt can help remove rust?

Yes, salt is highly effective when it comes to removing rust spots on stainless steel cookware. You suggest you use coarse salt to scrub away the rust, then rinse with clean water.

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4. What safe cleaners can I use on my stainless steel appliances?

It is best to stick to milder agents like dish soap, baking soda, or vinegar for cleaning purposes, as they do not contain chemicals that can corrode and damage the appliance.


At the end of the day, all of us want our kitchens to look polished and clean. Stainless steel is a popular choice for kitchen appliances because of its durability and ease of cleaning, but it does require quite some maintenance. It is best to use the methods stated on the list above so that your stainless steel appliances stay beautiful and rust-free.

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