Stainless steel appliances and finishings look great, modern, and are built to last a lifetime. However, this doesn’t stop rust from appearing on these everyday items, even though stainless steel usually has corrosion resistance built-in. The name “stainless” steel apparently doesn’t apply to rust! So how can we best prevent stainless steel appliances from rusting?
There are a number of preventative techniques when stainless steel appliances rust, never leave standing water on your steel, apply an aerosol rust-proof coating, use a commercial-grade cleaner on existing stains, and polish or clean gently with the grain of your stainless steel.
But why might your appliances be rusting, and is it too late to remove existing stainless steel rust? Thankfully, that’s what I’m here for. Let’s go over some possible explanations as to why your appliances may be rusting, and what you can do to fix it! If you are interested, check out our article How Long Does It Take for Stainless Steel to Rust?
Why are my Stainless Steel Appliances Rusting?
While the name may be misleading, stainless steel appliances are prone to stains and rusting. Stainless steel is made using chromium, an element that can rust easily if its delicate surface is damaged and exposed to oxygen and other environmental factors. This can be difficult to prevent, especially if you have purchased a used stainless steel appliance or household item.
There are many things that can cause rust on household appliances and goods, including:
- Overall humidity and damp environs
- Amount of iron and salt present in your standard tap water
- Use of chloride cleaners on stainless steel surfaces
- Frequent use of harsh scrubbing sponges or steel wool
- Exposure to any other corrosive chemicals
You may be wondering when your appliances received exposure to such harsh things, but many of these corrosive items are found in standard household cleaners or our water supplies. Stainless steel needs a bit more love and care than most people think, which is why prevention is key to protecting your stainless steel goods!
But let’s say it’s too late for proper preventative care; you’re here because your appliances are already rusting! How can you remove rust from your stainless steel appliances without causing further damage? Let’s take a look together.
How to Properly Remove Rust Spots on Stainless Steel Appliances
Removing rust spots and sections from your stainless steel appliances is easier than you think. Here is my step-by-step guide to cleaning up these so-called “stainless” surfaces, and then we’ll get on to my top tips for rust prevention!
- Gather baking soda, lemon juice, and water. Combine 5 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 cup of lemon juice and 1 cup of water.
- Mix the ingredients until a slightly paste-like substance has formed. You may need to add more baking soda, should you be applying the mixture onto a vertical surface. The more glue-like it is, the more likely it will stick to tricky surfaces!
- Add the mixture directly onto any rust spots you see. If you are treating a stainless steel sink, feel free to use more water and let the entire surface soak in the lemon juice and baking soda solution.
- Let the mixture sit on the rust spots. Depending on the severity of the spots, the solution works best if left alone for up to an hour. 15 minutes may do the trick, but feel free to spot-clean the rusty spot and reapply your mixture should it not work.
- Gently scrub away the mixture with a rough textured cloth or old toothbrush. Do not use anything with steel wool or any harsh scrubbers, as your stainless steel could incur further damage this way. An old toothbrush is my go-to for stainless steel cleaning, as it can get into hard to reach places too!
- If there are still rust spots, purchase a commercial grade cleaner. While baking soda is notorious for cleaning stainless steel, sometimes you just can’t beat a professional and quality cleaner! There are many options on the market today; just keep an eye out for cleaners that are stainless steel safe as well as made for rust removal.
These easy tips should get your stainless steel sparkling again, giving you the opportunity to get it back to square one. And what do you do once you have your stainless steel appliance back to where it was when you bought it? Prevent further rust from occurring, of course!
How do I Stop Stainless Steel from Rusting?
Stopping your stainless steel appliances from rusting is possible, no matter how daunting the task may seem. If you have cleaned all of the rust away and don’t want to clean rust again in the future, there is one simple way to stop rust from occurring: apply a protective coating on all of your stainless steel.
These coatings can be found at any hardware or cleaning supply store, and these commercial grade products offer a lot of protection. Since your stainless steel has already had its protective coating damaged, the only way to prevent rust from occurring again is to apply another layer of protection!
Keep an eye out for products that are safe for stainless steel, and consider reading product reviews that mention other customers using these products on their stainless steel appliances. Always apply the coating with a microfiber cloth, and follow the product’s specific instructions!
Looking for other ways to prevent rust on your stainless steel in the future? I’ve also compiled a list of some of my favorite preventative techniques so that you never have to scrub rust away again! Prevention is key to protecting your stainless steel, so read on for more tips.
Stainless Steel Appliances Rust Prevention Tips
There are many easy tips and tricks for preventing rust in your stainless steel appliances. Check out some of my top recommendations here:
- Never use steel wool or harsh metal scrubbers. These can shed and leave metal deposits embedded in the surface of your stainless steel, and these microscopic shavings are the main cause of further rust.
- Choose an old toothbrush or microfiber cloth to clean with instead. These are invaluable to keeping your stainless steel shiny and unscratched.
- Clean your stainless steel along the grain. Just like meat or wood, stainless steel comes with a fine grain in it, and it is advised that you clean with the grain. This leads to an overall better looking steel and shiny surface!
- Wipe away any standing water from your stainless steel. Whether it be the inside of your stainless steel sink or water lingering on your oven door, water is the main cause of rust. Taking the extra time to remove excess moisture could be all it takes to prevent your appliances from rusting!
- Clean frequently with dish soap and water, and don’t let the solution air dry. While it may make cleaning a two-step process, it is worth it to wipe away stains or debris with soapy water, and then ensure that your stainless steel is dry by wiping it down with a dry cloth.
- Apply a rust-preventative wax or cleaning solution. There are many commercial grade waxes or cleaning supplies designed to enhance, shine, and protect your stainless steel. Applying products like this frequently is a great way to prevent rust from happening ever again!
Stainless Steel Rusting FAQs
Still wondering why your stainless steel is rusting and what you can do about it? Check out my list of frequently asked questions to learn more!
Does salt cause stainless steel to rust?
Unfortunately, yes, salt and saltwater are some of the main culprits of rust spots on stainless steel, especially steel that is exposed to sea air or water frequently. If you live on the coast and notice that your stainless steel outdoor barbeque grill is showing more and more rust spots, you have your local climate to blame!
How quickly can new stainless steel appliances rust?
Stainless steel is made with corrosion and rust resistance in mind, so fortunately, it usually takes some time for brand new appliances to rust. However, it all depends on how you treat your stainless steel in the long run. If you take care and prevent it from rusting, brand new stainless steel appliances may never rust!
Does the stainless steel grade matter for corrosion resistance?
Yes, the grade of your stainless steel does affect your overall corrosion resistance and prevention. Choosing a higher quality grade of stainless steel will ultimately offer your appliances more protection. Check with your appliance manufacturer should you be unsure what grade of stainless steel you have!
Will a water filter on my kitchen faucet keep my sink from rusting?
If you own a stainless steel kitchen sink, installing a water filter on your faucet will help prevent your sink from rusting. There are many other factors that can lead to your stainless steel sink forming rust spots, but having a reliable water filter definitely doesn’t hurt!
Cleaning rust spots from your stainless steel appliances isn’t the end of the world. With a little elbow grease and some helpful prevention techniques, you too can regain the sparkling stainless steel shine usually reserved only for brand new appliances!
Jamie is the Founder of My Home Dwelling. He is a homeowner and enjoys sharing his homeowner tips with others. He has real estate experience working as a new home construction Realtor. Jamie has worked on numerous residential construction sites helping with interior and exterior renovations. He loves refinishing furniture, DIY home projects, and sharing his knowledge online.