Stainless steel is a popular choice for appliances and other household items because it is durable, easy to clean, and resistant to corrosion. However, even stainless steel can rust if it is not properly cared for. Rust can be unsightly and can even weaken the structural integrity of the metal if it is not addressed.
If you have a stainless steel item that has developed rust, don’t despair. There are a number of effective methods for removing rust from stainless steel and returning it to its original shine. Here is a detailed guide on how to clean rusting stainless steel:
Step 1: Determine the extent of the rust
Before you start cleaning, it’s important to assess the extent of the rust on your stainless steel item. If the rust is only on the surface and has not penetrated too deeply, it may be possible to remove it using simple cleaning methods. However, if the rust is more extensive or has penetrated deep into the metal, you may need to use more aggressive methods or even consider replacing the item.
Step 2: Remove any loose rust
Before applying any cleaning solutions, it is important to remove any loose rust flakes that may be present on the surface of the stainless steel. This can be done using a soft cloth or a brush to gently scrub away the rust flakes. Be careful not to scratch the surface of the metal as you do this. Removing any loose rust before applying a cleaning solution will help to ensure that the solution can penetrate the rust more effectively and increase the chances of a successful cleaning.
Step 3: Choose a cleaning solution
There are a number of cleaning solutions that can be effective at removing rust from stainless steel. Here are a few options to consider:
- White vinegar: White vinegar is a natural, non-toxic cleaner that can be effective at removing rust from stainless steel. Simply mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and then spray the solution onto the rust. Let it sit for a few hours, and then use a soft cloth to scrub the rust away.
- Lemon juice: Like white vinegar, lemon juice is a natural cleaner that can help remove rust from stainless steel. Simply mix equal parts lemon juice and water in a spray bottle, and then spray the solution onto the rust. Let it sit for a few hours, and then use a soft cloth to scrub the rust away.
- Baking soda and water: Baking soda is a mild abrasive that can help scrub away rust. Mix a paste of baking soda and water, and then apply it to the rust. Use a scrub brush or a scouring pad to scrub the rust away.
- Commercial rust removers: If the rust is particularly stubborn, you may need to use a commercial rust remover. Follow the instructions on the product label, and be sure to wear gloves and protective eyewear to protect yourself from the chemicals.
Step 4: Scrub the rust
Once you have applied your chosen cleaning solution, use a soft cloth or a scrub brush to scrub the rust away. If you are using a paste or a commercial rust remover, you may need to let it sit for a few minutes to allow it to work its magic.
Step 5: Rinse and dry
Once you have removed as much of the rust as possible, rinse the stainless steel item thoroughly with water to remove any remaining cleaning solution or rust particles. Then, dry the item thoroughly with a clean cloth.
Step 6: Protect the stainless steel
To keep your stainless steel rust-free, it is important to take measures to protect it from moisture and other corrosive elements. Here are a few additional tips for protecting your stainless steel:
- Use a rust inhibitor: There are a number of products on the market that are designed to protect stainless steel from rust. These rust inhibitors work by forming a protective barrier over the surface of the metal that prevents moisture from coming into contact with the metal. Some rust inhibitors are applied as a spray, while others are applied as a wipe. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label when applying a rust inhibitor.
- Store stainless steel items in a dry place: If possible, store your stainless steel items in a dry place where they will be protected from moisture. This could be a cabinet or pantry with good airflow, or a closet with a dehumidifier.
- Wipe up spills and splashes promptly: If liquids come into contact with your stainless steel, be sure to wipe them up as soon as possible to prevent moisture from being absorbed by the metal.
- Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scouring pads: Abrasive cleaners and scouring pads can scratch the surface of the stainless steel, which can create areas where rust is more likely to form. Instead, use a soft cloth or a sponge to clean your stainless steel items, and choose non-abrasive cleaning solutions whenever possible.
- Protect stainless steel from acidic substances: Some substances, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, can be acidic and may cause corrosion on stainless steel if left in contact with the metal for an extended period of time. To protect your stainless steel from acidic substances, be sure to wipe them up promptly, and avoid storing acidic items in stainless steel containers.