How To Get Rid of Rust on Stainless Steel Sink

San Rafael

(415) 942-6565

Santa Rosa

(707) 452-3464

Since stainless steel is often revered for its look, durability, and ease of maintenance, it is a popular go-to choice for sinks. However, this does not mean that it is uncommon for it to rust. When stainless steel sinks in kitchens or bathrooms show signs of severe rust, homeowners may question whether a replacement is necessary. However, unlike their name, stainless steel sinks are not immune to rust stains. Though the look of rust can become significantly unpleasant, there are ways to remove rust from stainless steel appliances without installing a brand-new replacement. Today, we will examine how stainless steel works, why rust can form, and how to remove rust from stainless steel sinks. We will also provide some tips on keeping your sink’s surface shiny and unmarred by scratches, rust, or water stains.

What Is Stainless Steel?: Pros and Cons

Before learning how to clean rust from a stainless steel sink, it is important to know a bit about the material and its care. Stainless steel is an alloy metal with a chromium oxide layer around it due to certain elements in the steel that can regenerate even after it is scrubbed away. This protective layer shields against corrosion and helps to make the material so durable.

One of the pros of stainless steel sinks is that they offer great value for a reasonable price. They will be more expensive than porcelain but less so than granite and are more indestructible than most other options. They are designed to hinder bacterial buildup and can remain great-looking with regular cleaning. They can also easily match other appliances in your kitchen and bathroom since things like dishwashers and refrigerators can also be stainless steel.

Despite its strength and ability to withstand many factors, stainless steel can be vulnerable to scratches. For this reason, it is important not to use abrasive cleaners whenever you are cleaning a stainless steel sink. Metal kitchenware can also be a problem if it comes into contact with a stainless steel appliance.

How Does Rust Occur on Stainless Steel Sinks?

While the layer protecting stainless steel can prevent corrosion, rust can still occur. You are more likely to have rust stains than a rusty sink if you have stainless steel. Rust stains can occur from a variety of things, including:

  • Contact with metal utensils or dishware for extended periods (metal or cast iron cookware left to soak)
  • High level of iron in the water
  • Harsh cleaning chemicals
  • Rubber dish mats

Another important thing to remember about stainless steel sinks is that they require good maintenance, just like any other appliance. It is vital to always wipe your sink down so that it is completely dry and won’t gain water spots and to not leave dishes soaking or otherwise within the sink for long periods.

How To Remove Rust Stains

Typically, there are two options when removing rust from stainless steel sinks: with baking soda or with a cleaner. To clean rust from the surface of your kitchen sink, you can follow one of the following methods:

Remove Rust with Baking Soda

Materials needed: baking soda, lemon juice, microfiber cloth, non-abrasive sponge, vinegar, spray bottle

Rinse the sink basin with warm water and dry it with a soft cloth. Mix an equal amount of baking soda and lemon juice into a bowl until it creates a paste, then apply the paste to the rust spot on your sink. Scrub gently with a sponge. Wipe the spot with a clean cloth.

If the stain is a bit tougher, sprinkle baking soda and vinegar over the spot. Let the vinegar and baking soda sit for 15-20 minutes, and then wipe clean to remove rust.

Pour an equal amount of water and vinegar into a spray bottle, and then spray down the area previously cleaned with the baking soda paste before wiping it dry with the microfiber cloth.

Remove Rust with Cleaner

Materials needed: non-scratching cleaner containing oxalic acid, soft sponge

Rinse and dry the sink, then take a generous amount of your chosen cleaner containing oxalic acid and apply it to the stained area. You will want to then rub it into the grain lines of the sink’s surface using a slightly damp sponge. It will take a bit of elbow grease to get into the grain properly. Rinse out the sink with water and dry with a soft towel. Ensure the cleaner is not left on for roughly one minute before rinsing with warm water. Be sure to have a dry sink after you are done.

Steel Wool and Other Materials to Avoid With Stainless Steel

When using cleaners, avoid any that contain chlorides, such as fluorine, iodine, or chlorine, which can strip away the protective layer of chromium oxide. Steel wool, metal brushes, wire brushes, and similar abrasive scrubbers can scratch the stainless steel surface, leading to surface rust. This also goes for abrasive cleaners, such as bleach and oven cleaners.

Do not leave rubber dish mats, cast iron pots, metal dish strainers, or any other metals on stainless steel. These utensils can easily cause rust stains and corrosion on the surface. You should also not leave wet sponges or rags in the sink. These will leave water stains from the moisture. It is also a good idea to always to rinse and wipe your sink dry after you wash anything in it so that water doesn’t sit on the stainless steel long enough to leave stains.

Lastly, it is best to stay away from cleaners that contain alcohol and mineral spirits, since these are very harmful to stainless steel and some can be unhealthy in general.

You will want to avoid rust on your stainless steel sink, but it can also be fixable. There are ways to remove rust from stainless steel sinks with simple solutions like baking soda and vinegar or stainless steel-friendly cleaners. Just remember all the tips to avoid rust and water stains from forming on the surface of your sink, and of course, remember that regular maintenance is always key to maintaining a shiny stainless steel sink in your kitchen or bathroom.

With their chromium oxide layer, stainless steel sinks are fairly durable and can withstand a lot, so long as they are properly maintained. So be sure to follow the steps in this article to prevent rust and keep the surface of your kitchen sink in the best condition possible.

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(707) 452-3464



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San Rafael
(415) 942-6565
Santa Rosa
(707) 452-3464