There are several ways to deal with small rust spots on stainless steel. Small rust spots are best cleaned using a paste consisting of the following ingredients: lemon juice, baking soda, water, and cream of tartar. For larger areas of rust, you should mix water with baking soda and use it to scrub the rust clean. If these methods don't remove rust, try a specially formulated cleaning agent that contains oxalic acid.
Method 1 of 3: Overcoming Minor Rust Spots
Step 1. Make a baking soda paste
Mix one tablespoon of baking soda and two cups (470 ml) of water. Rub the paste over the rust spot in the direction of the metal groove using a clean cloth. Rinse and wipe the rusty area with a damp towel.
Step 2. Coat the rust with vinegar
If possible, soak the entire stainless steel in a tall glass of vinegar. This method is most ideal for (for example) tableware or jewelry. If you cannot soak the stainless steel item, or if it is rusty, spray vinegar evenly on the rust to be cleaned.
- Wait five minutes after the rust has soaked in the vinegar. Wipe off the rust with a damp sponge.
- Distilled white vinegar is ideal, but you can use different types of vinegar.
- Otherwise, pour or spray a small amount of vinegar on a soft scouring pad and use it to wipe away the rust.
Step 3. Remove rust with lemon juice
Mix lemon juice and baking soda in a balanced ratio (1:1) until it forms a paste. For example, you can mix 1 tablespoon of lemon juice with 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Apply the paste to the rust, then use a damp sponge to scrub the rust off.
- If the rust hasn't cleared after one cleaning, leave the paste on the rust for 15-30 minutes, then scrub with a damp sponge.
- Lime/lime juice can replace lemon juice.
Step 4. Make a paste of cream of tartar
Mix 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar with a few drops of lemon juice. Cover the rust spots on the stainless steel object with the paste. Rub the paste vigorously on the rusty area using a soft sponge. After that, wipe with a damp sponge and dry with a clean cloth.
Step 5. Use lighter oil to remove rust
Spray a little lighter oil on the cloth, then use it to scrub away the rust. Be aware that this liquid is flammable so it is best to use it as a last resort. Once done, wipe the object thoroughly with a damp sponge.
Do not use lighter oil near an open flame
Method 2 of 3: Dealing with Large Rust Spots
Step 1. Rinse the rusty area
If, for example, your sink is rusty, flush it with water. If the rust is on a vertical surface, use a spray bottle to apply water to the rust.
Step 2. Sprinkle baking soda on the rusty area
If rust is on kitchen counters or other horizontal objects, cleaning is easy. However, if the rust is on a vertical object, place a tray or sheet of paper under the rusted area. Then, dip your finger in the baking soda and flick it over the wet, rusty area. The baking soda should stick to the rusty area.
Once the baking soda has settled, wait 30-60 minutes
Step 3. Scrub the area
Use a soft-bristled brush, sponge, or an old toothbrush to remove rust from stainless steel. Rub the brush or sponge in the direction of the stainless steel groove.
Step 4. Rinse the area to dry
If the rust has loosened, rinse off the stainless steel or wipe with a damp kitchen towel. Dry the area with a dry paper towel or microfiber cloth.
Method 3 of 3: Dealing with More Stubborn Rust
Step 1. Pour a cleaning liquid containing oxalic acid on the rust
Oxalic acid is a powerful cleaning agent to help get rid of more serious rust. Spray the cleaning liquid on the rust and wait 60 seconds (or according to the instructions on the package).
Oxalic acid is a common ingredient in cleaning products such as Krud Kutter and Bar Keepers Friend
Step 2. Apply the cleaning agent using a sponge
Moisturize the sponge for about 60 seconds after using the cleaning agent. Scrub the rust spots according to the stainless steel groove
Step 3. Rinse thoroughly
Once the rust has been removed, rinse with water (or spray using a spray bottle). Gently dry the stainless steel with a clean towel.
Step 4. Try not to use abrasive cleaners
When dealing with rust that doesn't go away, you may be tempted to use a heavy duty cleaning product. However, brush off this thought to prevent the stainless steel from breaking. Use only cleaning fluids that combine oxalic acid and hydrochloric acid (chlorine, bromine, fluorine, iodine, and so on).
- Do not place cast-iron products against stainless steel. For example, don't leave a cast-iron pan in a stainless steel sink as it can cause rust.
- Avoid using stainless steel polishes on stainless steel surfaces that are frequently exposed to extreme heat (such as ovens or grills). When the polisher is exposed to high heat, the color of the steel may change.
- In addition, do not use steel wool or other abrasive cleaning tools.