How to Get Rust Off Stainless Steel

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

rusty utensils
You can salvage vintage utensils that are coated in rust with a little baking soda and elbow grease. Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images

Stainless steel, an alloy of iron that contains ten percent chromium, is a very resilient material used in a wide range of household and industrial products. It's resistant to rust and tarnish due to the chromium film on its surface. If this chromium film is removed, the utensil will begin to rust. Not only is stainless steel used in household products, it's also used in wide variety of architectural structures on account of its strong resistance to corrosion that can be caused by changes in atmospheric conditions. Stainless steel pots and pans are easily maintained, so they always look attractive. In the event that your stainless steel utensils do have rust on them, follow these instructions to remove it.

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda in 2 cups of water.
  2. Rub the baking soda solution on the rust stain using a toothbrush. Baking soda is non-abrasive and will gently lift the rust stain from the stainless steel. It also will not damage the grain of the stainless steel.
  3. Rinse and wipe the spot with wet paper towel. You will see the rust on the paper towel [source: Do It Yourself].

Here are some general tips about removing rust from stainless steel:

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  • Never use strong abrasive scouring powders, as they will scratch the surface and remove the finish.
  • Never use steel wool, as it will scratch the surface.
  • Try out any abrasive powder in a corner of the utensil, where it will not be so noticeable, and see if scratches the surface [source: BSSA].

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Originally Published: Jun 6, 2011

Remove Rust from Metal FAQ

What household products can you use to remove rust?
You don't need to buy commercial rust cleaners since many household products can easily do the job. The most effective products include baking soda, lemon juice and vinegar.
How do you remove rust from metal objects?
The most effective way to remove rust from metal is by mixing water and baking soda until it forms a thick paste. You can spread the paste on all the rusty spots and let it sit for at least an hour. Then use a wire brush to scrub the metal object and remove the rust. Rinse the paste off and dry the item. Alternatively, if it’s small enough, simply soak the item overnight in a container full of vinegar.
Is it possible to remove rust from stainless steel?
Yes, it is. You can use different solutions, such as using a paste made from baking soda and water or any acidic household product. If these solutions fail, you can buy a commercial rust cleaner from a local hardware or home improvement store.

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