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How to Remove Rust From Stainless Steel (Appliances)

Collage of steps on how to remove rust from stainless steel.

Stainless Steel appliances are an expensive but modern addition to your kitchen. The high-shine exteriors look sleek and modern. The last thing you would expect is for your stainless steel appliances to rust, but this happens and is most frustrating. Fortunately, there is a solution to removing rust using basic grocery cupboard ingredients.

Remove rust from stainless steel appliances by mixing baking soda and water. Use this to rub the rust away. Remove the mixture and clean and dry the area thoroughly. Polish your appliance with coconut oil to add a brilliant shine and protect the stainless steel surface from moisture.

Removing rust from your stainless steel appliance takes minimal effort; however, if your appliances start to rust, you need to remove the rust as soon as it appears. By following a simple rust removal technique, you can restore the surface of your appliance.

Top Tip

When cleaning smaller appliances, remove any detachable parts and clean them separately; this makes it easier to ensure the surface is completely dry when you have finished removing the rust. If there are no removable pieces, take care not to wet joints or electrical cables.

How to Remove Rust from Stainless Steel - Step 5: Polish the Surface

How to Remove Rust From Stainless Steel (Appliances)

Materials

  • Baking soda
  • A small mixing bowl
  • A utensil for mixing
  • A soft cloth
  • A dry cloth
  • Coconut oil

Tools

  • None

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare a Baking Soda Mixture

How to Remove Rust from Stainless Steel - Step 1: Prepare a Baking Soda Mixture

The best way to remove rust from stainless steel is to use a baking soda mixture. Baking soda is a mild abrasive that dissolves rust without stripping or scratching the stainless steel surface.

Mix baking soda with water in a small bowl using a 1:1 mixture. Mix thoroughly to form a smooth paste that won't drip and leave streaks on your appliances. If your mixture is not thick enough, add more baking soda until you have the required consistency.

Top Tip

Always use cold water for the paste. The softer the water is, the less the chance of damage there is to your appliance's surface. Preferably use filtered or distilled water, as chemicals in undistilled or unfiltered water may add to the oxidization process, which causes rust.

Step 2: Dip a Cloth in the Baking Soda Mixture

How to Remove Rust from Stainless Steel - Step 2: Dip a Cloth in the Baking Soda Mixture

Dip only the corner of a soft wet cloth into the paste to control where you rub the paste. A microfiber cloth is best as it will not scratch the stainless steel surface.

Avoid using steel wool or abrasive material. They damage the surface of your appliance and lead to further rust spots.

If you don't have a microfiber cloth, then use any other clean, soft cloth but make sure it is made from a completely smooth material. A paper towel also works well.

Top Tip

Do not use wet dishcloths as they may have traces of food. Some foods are acidic, which may worsen the rust or create new rust spots.

Step 3: Rub the Mixture Into Rust Spots

How to Remove Rust from Stainless Steel - Step 3: Rub the Mixture Into Rust Spots

The grains on stainless steel run across appliances or top to bottom, just like wood grain. Rub the mixture back and forth onto the rust spots following the stainless steel grain. Never rub in circles, as this will make it difficult to keep your appliance streak free. You will likely have to rub quite hard to loosen the rust and work it out of the appliance's surface.

If small crevices rust in hard-to-reach spots, use a very soft toothbrush to clean the rust, remove the mixture, and dry the area with the corner of a small clean cloth. Don't use too much water or paste, as this may drip into mechanical parts of the appliance.

Top Tip

Avoid wearing rings or jewelry while cleaning your appliance, as these may inadvertently scratch the surface.

Step 4: Wipe the Baking Soda Mixture Off

How to Remove Rust from Stainless Steel - Step 4: Wipe the Baking Soda Mixture Off

When you are satisfied that all the rust is removed, remove the paste with a smooth cloth. For stubborn rust, leave the paste on for approximately 20 minutes or until it dries. Rub the paste off following the direction of the grain on your stainless steel appliance. Make sure that the surface is altogether clean.

Use a dry towel and ensure that the area is completely moisture free; any moisture left on the surface may lead to future rust. If any rust remains, repeat the process.

Top Tip

To ensure the surface is completely clean, use a vinegar mixture to spray and wipe down the surface before drying.

Step 5: Polish the Surface

How to Remove Rust from Stainless Steel - Step 5: Polish the Surface

After drying the surface, use the back side of the cloth or a new cloth or towel to polish your appliance. Buff the appliance following the grain on the surface. Coconut oil works well as a stainless steel surface polisher.

Although coconut oil works well, other options shine stainless steel as well. Olive oil, lemon oil, or baby oil are also ideal polishers and protectants.

Rust forms when the stainless steel surface is wet. Oil is water-repellant and helps keep stainless steel surfaces dry.

Top Tip

To pour Olive Oil onto a cloth, place the cloth over the top of the oil bottle and tip the bottle over. If the spout on your Olive Oil bottle makes this difficult, pour 2 -3 coin-sized drops on the polishing cloth.

Notes

How Can I Keep My Appliances' Surfaces Rust-Free?

  • Ensure that the surface is always dry. Moisture on the stainless steel surface will oxidize and create rust. If the surface gets wet, dry it immediately.
  • Keep surfaces clean to prevent acidic substances from corroding your stainless steel appliance.
  • Buff the surface with flour once a month. Flour is not abrasive and will remove anything sticking to the surface as it buffs right into little grooves and crevices to extract dirt and residue.

Are There Any Other Methods to Remove Rust From Stainless Steel?

Although using a baking soda mixture is the preferred way to remove rust, there are several other ways to remove rust from your stainless steel appliance:

  • Sprinkle salt over the rust and squeeze lime juice over the salt. Leave the mixture for 2 – 3 hours, then rub the rust off with the lemon rind.
  • Halve a potato, dip it into a mild liquid detergent, and rub the rust spot. Repeat the process of slicing away the top part of the potato so that a fresh section is used for each rub.
  • Mix a non-abrasive liquid detergent with baking soda, clean the rusted area, rubbing in the direction of the stainless steel grain. When the rust is removed, thoroughly rinse and dry the area.

How Do I Keep My Appliances Clean to Prevent Rust?

Keeping your stainless steel appliance spotlessly clean is the best way to prevent rust. Using any stainless steel cleaner is safe, but check that the ingredients do not include bleach, alcohol, ammonia, or chloride. An oven cleaner is not suitable for cleaning stainless steel.

Corrosive material can stick to small groves and indentations, eroding the stainless steel and causing rust. Spots you have cleaned tend to rust easier, so make sure you use a mildly acidic solution to clean appliances.

White or apple cider vinegar works well to clean appliances. To make a vinegar solution, mix one-part vinegar with equal water in a spray bottle. Spritz this over your appliance. Wipe your appliance down and ensure that it is altogether dry. Use undiluted vinegar to remove stubborn dirt.

Use the mixture sparingly so that it does not run down into crevices that are difficult to rinse and dry.

Can I Use the Same Method to Prevent Rust on Stainless Steel Pots?

Baking Soda works well for cleaning stainless steel pots and pans. Mix one level teaspoon of baking soda with some water inside the pan. Scrub the area but do not use steel wool, as this will scratch the surface. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Clean and dry your pots or pans as soon as possible to prevent surface corrosion. To clean the outside of the pan, use a baking soda paste and clean in the direction of the grain. Rinse well and dry thoroughly until the surface shines.

Do not use an oil substance to polish the surface, as this is exposed to heat when you cook and may make your pot or pan flammable.

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Resources:

YouTube / Life with Sylvia: How To Get Rust Off Stainless Steel Appliances

HGTV: How to Clean Stainless-Steel Appliances

Consumer Reports:  Yes, Your Stainless Steel Appliances Can Rust

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