How To Remove Rust From A Kitchen Sink Drain

As you’re draining the sink after washing dishes, you notice unsightly reddish-brown patches around the drain. You try rinsing the spots away, but to your dismay, they remain stubbornly in place. So, now what?

Luckily, rust stains are usually relatively easy to remove. Although the process can take a while, the effort required on your part is minor. Here’s what you need to know.

Why Is My Sink Drain Rusting?

Fixtures throughout your home may begin to sport signs of rust after a while. Generally, this happens as a result of two things: a rusty plumbing system or water with a high iron content.

Rusty Plumbing System

Older plumbing systems with rust lining the plumbing can lead to rust development on your kitchen sink drain. The rusty particles can break loose from various plumbing fixtures and appliances, like a rusty water heater or pipes, and eventually end up inside your faucets and around the drains throughout your home.

The longer these particles hang around, the more likely they create a problem. Generally, when the issue stems from old, rusty pipes or a damaged water heater, a replacement is necessary to remedy the problem entirely.

High Iron Content

Sometimes, the water supply can have a high iron content. When this is the case, standing water can result in rusty splotches. For example, if water pools around your drain (perhaps it isn’t perfectly level with the sink), you might notice rust developing. Or, maybe water pools in part of your bathtub, so rust begins to develop there.

Generally, the water looks and tastes normal but wreaks havoc on the fixtures and appliances throughout your home by introducing the potential for rust. To remedy this issue, you can add a softener or filter to remove these particles. Of course, starting with water testing is best – you can have a licensed plumber check the iron content in your home’s water supply.

How Do You Remove Rust From A Sink Drain?

6 Pack Pumice Stone Toilet Bowl Clean Brush, Remove Toilet Bowl Hard Water Rings, Calcium Buildup and Rust Suitable for Cleaning Toilet, Bathroom, Kitchen Sink, Grill

Tackling those reddish-brown stains taking up residence around your kitchen sink drain doesn’t have to be complicated. However, there are a few do’s and don’ts to consider before you try the following methods:

  • DO test the mixture on an inconspicuous area of the sink. This will tell you whether the mixture will damage or discolor your sink and is especially important if you use a commercial cleaner.
  • DON’T scrub the offending area aggressively. Sometimes, the stains might be deep set and may not lift (this is common with porcelain). Scrubbing excessively may cause more damage.
  • DO double-check commercial cleaners before using them. Some products are designed for certain materials, so ensure the product is safe for use on your kitchen sink.
  • DO correct the underlying problem. The problem will continue to occur in many cases unless you address the culprit (rusty plumbing, high iron content, etc.).

Pumice Stone Or Scouring Pads

If your sink is made of porcelain, a pumice stone might be the ideal solution for removing rust stains. However, if you have a stainless steel sink or it is made of another material that scratches easily, try one of the following methods. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pumice stone or abrasive scouring pad
  • Towel or cloth

Dampen a pumice stone or an abrasive scouring pad. Scrub the offending stains with the stone or pad, ensuring you don’t use too much force (you could damage the sink). Once the stain lifts, rinse the residue away with clean water, then dry the area with a soft cloth or towel.

Lemon And Salt

Natural solutions can work wonders on stubborn stains, so if you don’t like using harsh chemicals for your cleaning endeavors, try using lemon and salt to tackle the issue. This method works well on stainless steel and other sinks that are more susceptible to scratching, as it won’t damage the surface. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fresh lemons or lemon juice
  • Kosher salt
  • Small bowl
  • Old toothbrush (or small scrub brush)
  • Towel

In a small bowl, combine a small amount of lemon juice with enough salt to form a wet paste. Apply the paste to the affected areas, then let it sit for a few hours or overnight. Next, use an old toothbrush to gently scrub away residual rust particles.

Rinse the area with fresh water and dry it thoroughly to prevent the development of more rust.

Commercial Cleaner

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Extra Durable, Shoe, Bathroom, and Shower Cleaner, Cleaning Pads with Durafoam, 10 Count

If you prefer the convenience of a ready-made cleaner, consider purchasing a commercial cleaner from your local grocery store. Generally, you can find these products in the cleaning aisle by the dishwasher detergents, dish soaps, bleach, and other cleaning supplies.

Steer clear of products that contain bleach, as it can worsen the issue instead of correcting it. Look for products labeled for removing stains like rust. Magic Eraser pads and Bar Keepers Friend are popular options, but you can select whatever option best fits your needs.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Some commercial cleaners can damage certain sink materials, so pay attention to the use instructions and safe applications before using them on your sink.


If you don’t have other cleaning materials for other methods, try using vinegar. All you’ll need is a spray bottle and food-grade distilled white vinegar. Simply fill the spray bottle with vinegar and spray it on the offending areas.

After a while, use a soft cloth to wipe away the residue. You may need to repeat the process several times before the stains fully lift. This is a great way to tackle rusty spots before they become deep-set stains, so consider including this step in your normal cleaning process.

Baking Soda And Water

Baking Soda

For this method, you’ll use the tough cleaning prowess of baking soda to tackle those reddish stains marring your sink drain. This method is a solid choice for more delicate sink materials susceptible to scratching. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Old toothbrush (or small scrub brush)
  • Small bowl
  • Towel

Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with enough water to form a thick paste. Apply the paste to the affected area, then let it soak for a few hours (preferably overnight). After a while, use an old toothbrush to scrub the area. This will help lift any stubborn rust particles.

Rinse the area thoroughly with clean water, then dry it with a soft towel to avoid the development of new rusty spots.

Leave a Comment