How To Remove Rust From Stainless Steel With DIY Remedies

Learning how to remove rust from stainless steel can help you save your favorite pots, pans, and silverware.

remove rust from stainless steel

There are several methods that will rid your stainless steel of rust. Here are the best solutions and how to prevent rust from recurring.

Why Does Stainless Steel Rust?

While stainless steel is more durable than other metals, it’s not fully rust-resistant.

Stainless steel has a surface layer called chromium oxide. Chromium oxide protects against further oxidation. But if this top layer gets scratched off, stainless steel becomes susceptible to rust and corrosion.

DIY Rust Removal Solutions

DIY Rust Removal Solutions

There are many ways to remove difficult rust spots from stainless steel. We’re going to show you a few DIY stainless steel cleaners you can use. 


Vinegar might be the best DIY option for removing rust. Here’s what to do:

  1. Pour undiluted white distilled vinegar over the rust spot. (Do this in a sink or bowl, if possible.)
  2. Soak for two hours.
  3. Remove rust by scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush.
  4. Rinse with water and dry.

Baking Soda

Remove rust from stainless steel sink

Baking soda is a cheap and effective way to remove rust from stainless steel. It can scrub away rust spots without leaving scratches.

  1. Add baking soda to a bowl and mix in water until a thick paste forms.
  2. Rub the paste onto the stainless steel in circular motions and allow the baking soda to sit for an hour.
  3. Rinse and then dry with a microfiber cloth or a paper towel. 

Lime Juice And Salt

Lime and salt can remove rust from stainless steel appliances. The salt works well with the acidity of the lime. 

  1. Mix equal parts salt and lime juice in a small bowl to create a paste.
  2. With a  clean cloth, apply the mixture to the rusty stainless steel. 
  3. After it sits for an hour, scrub it with a soft cloth.
  4. Rinse with water and dry.

Potato And Soap

You can use a potato and soap to clean rust off of stainless steel utensils.

  1. Cut a potato in half and apply soap to the potato flesh. 
  2. Insert the utensil into the potato and let it rest for an hour or two. 
  3. Remove the utensil and wash it as usual. 

Citric Acid

Citric acid is an effective stainless steel cleaner, so if you have access to it, it’s worth a try.

  1. Place the stainless steel item in a container of warm water, then sprinkle citric acid over it and stir. You will see it working when bubbles start forming. (Kind of like when using peroxide.)
  2. After an hour, remove the item and scrub it with a soft cloth. 
  3. Rinse and dry.

Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid is an effective rust stain remover, but since it’s a stronger chemical, use it as a last resort.

  1. Apply oxalic acid onto the rust. Read the instructions on the package to ensure you’re using it safely.
  2. Rub the oxalic acid in the direction of the metal grain using a soft, damp sponge. 
  3. Rinse well and then dry with a microfiber cloth or clean cloth. 


CLR can remove calcium, rust, and lime build-up. It has instructions depending on the form you use, so follow the directions on the package.

Rust Removal Mistakes

Rust removal from stainless steel

Never use the following to remove rust from stainless steel:

  • Steel Wool – Steel wool will cause major scratches on stainless steel. Avoid all abrasive scrubbing pads.
  • WD-40 – While WD-40 works great for tools, it’s not good for kitchen items. 
  • Chlorine & Iodine – Chlorine and other pool cleaning chemicals may get rid of the rust but will also damage your stainless steel. 

How To Prevent Rust

Prevent rust by keeping your stainless steel dry. Avoid prolonged moisture exposure and high humidity. Also, be mindful of not scratching your stainless steel objects – as long as the protective chromium oxide layer sits at the surface, stainless steel won’t rust.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

What Is A DIY Way To Remove Rust From Tools?

When removing rust from knives and hand tools, just soak them in vinegar overnight. Pour vinegar into a plastic bucket and place the rusty items in it. Remove the items and scrub them gently with a wire mesh brush or something similar. After, rinse the items with water and use a clean cloth to dry them.

What Is Passivation Of Stainless Steel?

Passivation is the process of enhancing stainless steel surfaces with a chemical treatment to safeguard against corrosion. The process also helps remove contamination.

What Is Dry Ice Blasting?

Also known as cryogenic blasting, this cleaning uses compressed frozen carbon dioxide, or dry ice, and sublimates under high pressure on a rusted surface. After, a high-pressure power jet blasts the ice, at a temperature of -79° C, onto your contaminated stainless steel surface. Because the stainless steel surface is warm, it creates a “thermal shock,” loosening the rust while the dry ice evaporates.

How To Remove Rust From An Iron Skillet?

Removing from an iron skillet requires a mixture of white vinegar and equal parts water. Pour the mixture in a plastic bucket and let your skillet soak in it for eight hours. After, wash it off and clean cloth.

Can You Remove Rust With A Laser?

Laser rust removal is designed to clean industrial metal parts. Fiber lasers can remove rust and contaminants without causing permanent damage to the metal or stainless steel surface.