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Removing Rust From Stainless Steel – The Ultimate Guide!

removing rust from stainless steel
Written by Callum Strempel

Kitchen sinks require regular cleaning and maintenance, especially if they are made of stainless steel. Stainless is susceptible to rust, and believe us, there’s no worst sight that could ruin the look of your kitchen.

If you are looking to removing rust from stainless steel sinks, this is the right place for you.

What Causes Rust on Stainless Steel?

Stainless steel appliances rust and corrode due to the chromium layer on the surface. Here are some reasons that usually stimulate the process.

  • Using Steel Wool or Wire Brush

Scrubbing the basin with them leaves out some of their particles on the surface. These particles wait for moisture or humid air to harbor rust. Plus, they can leave scratches on the surface.

  • Remaining Debris and Improper Cleaning

The remaining food debris, dirt, standing water on the surface, and improper drying initiate the corrosion. They react with oxygen to corrode the surface.

  • Unusual Chemicals

When you apply unfamiliar chemicals, like the chemicals that are used for cleaning concrete or window, the rust on the surface becomes definite.

3 Amazingly Simple Ways to Removing Rust From Stainless Steel

How to Remove Rust from Stainless Steel

  • With Phosphoric Acid

Phosphoric acid is surprisingly effective. Some might think this acid is too harsh to be applied to the stainless steel and can destroy the sparkling face of the basin. However, it’ll only eliminate iron oxide from the stainless steel’s makeup, leaving other particles like nickel, iron, chromium, and chromium oxide.

It’s non-abrasive in nature and is readily available to be used without any dilution. After using it, it’s very important to rinse away the sink with deionized water (if unavailable, use distilled water) to remove any leftover.

Last, don’t forget to dry your washbowl with a towel.

  • With Acetic Acid

Acetic acid can also fill in for phosphoric acid, although it reacts a little slower. It’s a great choice for the soft stainless steel material. It will also just wipe off the iron oxide and not distort the face of your basin.

Apply the acid on the affected area, wait for a minute or two, and rinse it with deionized water. Furthermore, make sure you thoroughly rinse to eliminate the acid off the surface. Then, use a towel to dry the standing water.

  • With Baking Soda

If your sink snags tiny rust spots, it’s very important to peel them off unless they grow. Create a mix of baking soda and water, and apply it to the rusted area. Then, rub it with an old toothbrush or sponge following the grain’s pattern. It’s mildly abrasive, so it won’t leave scratches.

After cleaning the spot, sprinkle the baking soda on the whole surface. Now, wait for 1 or 2 hours, so it reacts with the surface. Then, use a soft bristle brush or an old toothbrush and gently scrub the surface. Rinse the surface using warm water and dry with a paper towel.

Ways to Prevent Stainless Steel Rust

  • If you’re using a cleaner or any other liquid to clean the surface, make sure you don’t leave a drop or so of that on the surface
  • Bathe your washbowl after every use; prevent food debris from staying on the surface for too long
  • Use a dry towel to clear off the water from the basin
  • You need to steer clear of drying the wet towel, sponge, dish mats, and others on the basin
  • Fill a spray bottle with a water-vinegar solution. Spray the solution on the surface once in a while for stopping its growth


Rust is one of the major issues with steel. But now that you know how to remove rust from your stainless steel sinks, there’s nothing stopping you from having shiny and radiant sinks!


1. Does vinegar remove rust from stainless steel?

Ans. Yes, vinegar carries some amount of acetic acid, which is used to remove the rust from the stainless steel without leaving scratches. Vinegar can also help you remove stains from your basin.

2. Does saltwater rust stainless steel?

Ans. Stainless steel is not totally rust-resistant, although some of the grades and alloy composition (chromium high) could make it more resistant to rust. However, long exposure to saltwater or freshwater could oxidize it.

3. What grade of stainless steel will not rust?

Ans. The most popular stainless steels that don’t wear away are 304/L and 316/L. Their composition contains a higher portion of nickel and chromium. Their chromium oxide layer offers great resistance against rust and corrosion.

4. Can I use Coca-Cola to remove rust?

Ans. To your surprise, yes! Coca-Cola can remove rust. Pour it on the oxidized surface and leave for overnight. Try to scrub it off using an old toothbrush. Repeat the process if the rust doesn’t entirely peel off.

About the author

Callum Strempel

Licensed Plumber

Hi, I’m Callum, a full time plumber with a plumbing license issued by my state. So far, I’ve spent nearly a decade and a half installing and fixing a wide variety of plumbing components and units. My profession inspires me to talk about the kitchen and bathroom (and the plumbing system) so confidently and knowledgeably that I offer my free consultations to help neighbors and fellow homeowners every now and then. As I enjoy installing faucets, sinks, showers, and fixtures, I love to see people enjoying services from those components for years to come. So, I write every week to inform you and others. Will you mind going through some of my articles on this website?

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