How to remove rust from stainless steel sink?

Published On: March 13, 20200 Comments on How to remove rust from stainless steel sink?Tags: , , Last Updated: February 11, 20245.1 min read

Everyone wants its house to be flawless and luxurious. One tries to use cost-effective and durable home accessories. In terms of durability and ease of use, what comes to our mind is stainless steel. Stainless steel is not only preferred in a wide range of household but also industrial products. However, the name “stainless steel” is somewhat misleading. Many believe that stainless steel is fully rust or stain proof, where as it says “stain less”.

How to remove rust from stainless steel sink

However, although it is resistant to rust but if not properly cared for, it can corrode. There are some things that can damage the aesthetics as well as function of our durable stainless-steel items.

What makes stainless steel “Stain less”?

You might have questioned yourself on seeing a stain or rust on stainless steel items. When you use a certain thing, you should know a bit about how it works, to preserve its durability. Let us talk about the composition of stainless steel which makes it ideal. Steel is an alloy of iron. The chromium in this alloy is actually the magical element that makes stainless steel, rust and tarnish resistant. Furthermore, when oxygen and chromium comes in contact, a reaction occurs that develops a layer of chromium oxide. This chromium oxide layer serves as a protective layer over the stainless steel.

What causes stainless steel to corrode?

After finding out what makes stainless steel resistant, this is the time to know about the culprit behind the rust. If we talk about the stainless steel sinks in our kitchen, food cans or cast-iron cookware left in the sink for long can cause rust spots.

You need to know that the common causes of rusting in stainless steel items include:

  • High salinity environments
  • Use of harsh chemicals and cleansers containing ammonia, chlorides etc., and
  • Highly humid environment
  • Use of steel brushes and steel ball.

Do you remember the magical element we talked about earlier and the protective layer it forms when it comes in contact with oxygen! Yes, that chromium oxide layer. When this chromium oxide layer is damaged, stainless steel begins to corrode.

Lucky you! This chromium oxide layer is self-repairing. This means that chromium oxide layer can be developed again. you can remove the problematic stains by simply washing the stainless-steel sink with water or mild dish soaps. When water takes away chemicals with it and chromium comes in contact with oxygen, that rust warrior, chromium oxide layer; develops again.

However, if for some reasons, rust stains are left unattended, and large surface area of stainless sink has been affected, there are few methods that can remove these stubborn stains.

Effective methods to remove rust from stainless steel sink:

Fortunately, there some miracle ingredients, always present in our kitchen that you can use for this purpose. These ingredients include baking soda, lemon, vinegar, cream of tartar etc. All of the above mentioned ingredients can be used to remove small rust spots. Use following instructions to remove rust:

Sodium Bicarbonate:

Baking soda has a wide range of uses. Along with using baking soda in cooking, it can also be used to clean rust, open drains, as well as some people also use it for face and hair.

  • To use baking soda for the removal of rust, mix 1 tablespoons of Sodium bicarbonate with 500 ml of water until a paste is formed.
  • Apply this mixture to the affected area and scrub it gently. You can also use a soft-bristled brush or dish-scrubbing scrub sponge.
  • If the above-mentioned process is not working your way because of rigid stains, sprinkle the soda on the area and leave it to like that for 30 minutes. Then scrub it off.

As baking soda is a very mild abrasive, you can remove rust in a chemical-free way without scratching up your stainless steel sink.

How to remove rust from stainless steel sink - DIY


Mixing lemon and baking soda makes an alkaline solution that has remarkable properties to remove various stains. Mix equal amounts of baking soda and lemon and follow the steps mentioned above for using baking soda to remove rust. If lemon is not available, you can also use lime juice as an alternative.


Similar methods are used for the all the mentioned ingredients. On the rusty spot of stainless-steel sink, spray some vinegar and leave it there for about five minutes. Wipe the rust with soft scrubbing pad or damp sponge. Distilled white vinegar serves the purpose.

Cream of tartar:

Here comes lemon again to rescue.

  • Mix few drops of lemon with one tablespoon of cream of tartar.
  • Apply this paste on the rusty spot of the stainless-steel sink.
  • Rub the paste using a scrubbing sponge and wipe the rust away.

If you are facing more tenacious rust on your stainless steel sink, there are also some heavy duty cleaning agents, such as oxalic acid, phosphoric acid and acetic acid.

Removing rust from stainless steel sink using oxalic acid:

  • Use a cleaner that includes oxalic acid. Apply the liquid cleaner to the rusty area of the sink.
  • Let it be there for 60 seconds.
  • Rub the spot using a damp sponge.
  • Rinse the area with fresh water after the rust has been cleaned.
  • Gently dry using a clean towel.

Apart from oxalic acid, you can also use phosphoric acid and acetic acid.

  • Phosphoric acid is non-aggressive in nature and is easily available. It does not affect other components of steel.
  • Acetic acid is slower than phosphoric acid. After using phosphoric acid or acetic acid, rinse the surface with deionized water. Deionized water removes any traces of acid.

Sometimes when rust does not seem to come off, you might be tempted to use abrasive cleaners. Avoid using cleaners that contain chlorides and also solutions that contain grit.


Everything that is in use requires care and maintenance to be durable and functional. However, for some reasons, if your stainless steel items become rusted, you can renew them just in no time. With the above mentioned methods, you can now keep your stainless steel appliances and surfaces look new and shiny forever.

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