How to Get Rust Stains Out of a Stainless Steel Sink

Stainless steel sinks are a popular staple in many kitchens. The material is known for its durable longevity, withstanding the test of time with ease. However, although the name implies the material is entirely stain and rust-proof, it’s not always true.

In some cases, your stainless steel sink may develop small brown spots of rust or rust rings, leaving unsightly streaks and marks on the sink. Luckily, cleaning away the offending marks is pretty straightforward and only takes a few minutes. If you’re wondering how to tackle the rust in your kitchen sink, continue reading!

Why Is My Brand New Stainless Steel Sink Rusting?

Perhaps you just bought a new, beautiful, shiny stainless steel sink. And you’ve only had it for a few days or weeks, and it’s already rusting. It’s aggravating: a brand new stainless steel sink rusting within a ridiculously short time frame.

Here’s the thing: the sink itself probably isn’t rusting. Stainless steel is made up of iron, chromium, manganese, silicon, carbon, etc. The alloying elements don’t rust easily, meaning the rust on your brand new sink probably isn’t from the sink itself.

Generally, the culprit of the unwanted stains falls to the cookware that dried in your sink. Some types of metal cookware, including cast iron pots and pans, some metal baking sheets, and specific kinds of flatware, can oxidize in water. This oxidation is rust.

So, when you leave the cookware to dry in the sink, the rust mixes with water and makes its way to the bottom of your sink. Then, the water pools in your sink before eventually drying. And just like that, you’re left with rust in the sink.

Stainless Steel Sink

Or, if you leave wet steel wool pads on or in your sink, they may also leave behind particles that can rust in your sink. The same applies to steel and metal brushes.

Alternatively, the sink may develop rust if it’s damaged. However, considering the sink is brand new, that probably isn’t the case.

How To Remove Rust Stains From Stainless Steel

There are a few options for removing rust stains from stainless steel. You could opt for a cleaning product like Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser, which works well for removing rust stains on stainless steel. Or, you can use other methods using products and items you probably already have in your home.

Use A Potato Wedge

Okay, we know how this one sounds. But since potatoes contain oxalic acid, which also naturally occurs in other plants (spinach, parsley, etc.), they can be great for removing rust. This method is straightforward and doesn’t require much work on your part. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 potato
  • Salt or baking soda
  • Soft cloth

Start with a potato. Cut it into slices, then sprinkle the cut side with salt or baking soda. Rub the cut side over the rust stain in the sink. Allow it to sit for a minute or two, then rinse the area clean. Dry the sink with a soft cloth.

If the stain remains, allow the potato to sit on top of the stain for a few minutes before rinsing.

Use Baking Soda

2 13.5 Pound Bags of Pool Cleaner Arm and Hammer Baking Soda

Baking soda is a handy item with uses that extend beyond working as a leavening agent in baked goods. It works great for targeting rust and spots in stainless steel sinks, as it manages to clean without damaging. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Paper towel
  • Soft-bristled brush (old toothbrush or fingernail brush)
  • Dish scrubbing sponge (as needed)
  • Soft cloth

Start by mixing a few tablespoons of baking soda with a bit of water to create a thick paste. Rinse the sink out thoroughly, then wipe it down with a saturated paper towel to dampen the area in need of rust treatment.

Apply the paste to the rusted area, then scrub it gently with a soft-bristled brush. If the spot persists, use a dish-scrubbing sponge or a nylon sponge approved for use on stainless steel.

Rinse the area clean, then dry out the sink with a soft cloth. If the stain persists, sprinkle a liberal coating of baking soda over the affected area, then allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Scrub the area, then rinse it clean and wipe it dry.

Use A Cleaning Product

If you’d prefer to use a store-bought cleaner, choose one that is listed as safe for stainless steel and isn’t abrasive. Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser is a good choice for this scenario. It works well as a rust remover, safely removing the issue without damaging the area.

Bar Keepers Friend Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleaner Premixed Formula, Citrus, 26 Ounce (Pack of 2)
  • This Soft Cleanser delivers the same power as the Bar Keepers Friend Classic Cleanser & Polish, but...
  • This creamy, ready-to-use formulation clings to vertical surfaces, making it an ideal glass shower...
  • SURFACES: Stainless Steel, Brass, Bronze, Copper Alloys, Aluminum, Ceramic, Porcelain, Glass,...
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Wet the rusty area, then apply a small amount of the cleaner. Gently scrub the spot with a soft sponge. Rinse the area within a minute of cleaning, then dry the sink thoroughly.

How To Prevent Rust On Stainless Steel

Routine maintenance is a critical step in prevention. Most stainless steel sink manufacturers send customers recommendations regarding the care of the sink. Although there is some slight variation from one manufacturer to the next, the general concept remains the same.

Avoid using any abrasive scouring pads, like abrasive sponges or metal pads. These can scratch the surface, making it more susceptible to rust. Metal scouring pads can leave behind tiny metal particles that get caught in the scratches, leading to rusted spots.

Try to scrub in the direction of polishing marks to avoid ruining the overall consistent looks of the sink. In addition, avoid using cleaners containing chlorides, chemicals, or bleach, as they can damage the stainless steel.

If you use bleach to cleanse other things in the sink, ensure you thoroughly rinse the sink after. Follow up with a towel to dry everything off.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does WD-40 remove rust from stainless steel?

Yes, WD-40 does remove rust from stainless steel. Although most people use it to fix a squeaky hinge or unjam a window, it also works well as a method for removing rust from various metals, including stainless steel.

Bonus: it won’t damage the surface or remove paint (if applicable).

Does vinegar remove rust from stainless steel?

Vinegar is a common household staple that works great for removing rust on stainless steel. It contains acetic acid, which is a mild corrosive that helps remove stubborn rust and dirt.

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