How To Remove Rust From Common Household Items

Repair of Kitchen Sink Faucet. Removal of a tap aerator close-up.

More often than not, rust is perceived as the death of anything that encounters it. In fact, when people see that dreaded shade of orange on an object or surface, it’s like all hope is lost! Well, we are here to tell you that rust does not equal ‘the end’! With a few, fairly simple methods, you can get rid of rust on common household items and revitalise their appearance while you’re at it!

Don't worry, we’ve done all the hard work for you in putting together these concise step-by-step guides to remove rust on various objects and surfaces in the house. So, without wasting any more time, let’s get right to them!

Chrome Fittings/Surfaces

A rusted ornament sitting in 100ml of vinegar and tomato sauce

From pots, pans, and kitchen faucets, to brass bathroom fittings and treasured knickknacks; there is some form of chrome found in a large number of homes. Unfortunately, as resilient as it seems, chrome does rust over time. Nevertheless, rusted chrome surfaces can be cleaned up in a very simple manner – here’s how:

rusted ornament being cleaned by a yellow toothbrush

  1. Wipe the surface with a dust cloth, followed by a second wipe down using a clean sponge and water.
  2. In a bowl of water, add 2 pinches of salt and stir it up.
  3. Cut a large piece of aluminium foil and fold it multiple times until it is the size of a regular scrubber; it needs to be thick so that it doesn’t rip easily.
  4. Dip the foil in the bowl of water and rub it over the rusted area; use a decent amount of pressure to scrub without tearing the piece. The way this works is that the aluminium acts as a non-abrasive scraper to file off rust while also sealing holes caused by rust spots.
  5. Repeat the scrubbing until all traces of rust have been removed, then rinse off the area with a clean, damp sponge. Finish off by drying the surface with a towel.

Metal Tools/Items

A rusted wrench sitting in a plastic bowl

Look inside your toolbox and you’ll find at least one item that has fallen prey to rust. Similarly, certain types of metal fixtures are also prone to rusting if they’ve been exposed to oxygen and moisture for a long enough time. Using rusted tools/items is dangerous as a small cut caused by a rusty object can cause a serious bacterial infection like tetanus if the bacteria is present on the rusted item. Therefore, it is advisable to remove rust from metal tools and surfaces as quickly as possible. To do this, follow the steps below:

After picture of wrench after the rust has been removed

  1. Wipe the tool with a dust cloth to remove dirt and debris.
  2. Place your metal tool(s) inside a large enough basin or utensil.
  3. Pour in some white vinegar to fully submerge the tool or rusted area.
  4. Add in a small amount of salt (approximately 1 tablespoon per 4 cups of vinegar) and give the water a couple of swirls to help dissolve the salt; this enhances the acidity of the vinegar which, in turn, melts away rust quickly and more effectively.
  5. Leave it to sit for 6-8 hours; the longer rusted metal soaks in this solution, the easier it will be to remove. For items that have been rusting for a couple of years, it may take a day or two of soaking in the salt-vinegar bath before you start to see results.
  6. Take the tool out and scrub with a metal brush. This may take some elbow grease but it is very effective in getting rid of rust on metal tools. As you scrub the rust away, dip the tool in the solution at intervals to rinse off grime and continue until all the rust spots have been removed.
  7. Next, transfer the cleaned tool to a basin of warm, soapy water (made with dish soap) and allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes. The purpose of this is to neutralise the acidity sitting on the tool.
  8. At the end of 10 minutes, take the tool out, rinse it under running water, and dry with a towel.

Cast Iron Cookware

A rusted cast iron skillet being held up by a chef

If these sturdy, durable pieces of cookware are not used regularly, they tend to rust in storage. This can be very inconvenient and frustrating when you finally decide to use your cast iron cookware, only to find that it is covered in rust!  Well, if your first thought is to get rid of rusted cast iron, think again because we’ve got an incredibly simple solution to remove rust and restore the item.

  1. Submerge the cookware in hot water and leave until the water cools down.
  2. Take a metal scouring pad to scrub off as much rust as possible. Rinse off the rusty grime every now and then as you go about scrubbing.
  3. For any remaining rust spots, scrub over them with a ball of aluminium foil.
  4. Once the rust has been removed, rinse off the grime and start the restoration process by placing it on the heat; allow the water to dry up completely.
  5. Turn down the heat and add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 pinches of sea salt. Spread the oil around to reach all corners by rotating the cookware as needed.
  6. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool down for a minute or two before using a kitchen towel to coat the interiors with the heated oil. Wipe off the salt when you do this and the cookware will be ready to use again!

Cast iron skillet sitting top down on a bench after having its rust removed

If there’s one thing we want anyone to take away from this article, it’s that you should never give up on rusted items! With all the information shared in the guides above, removing rust on household items will be like any other home cleaning method you’ve mastered in the past!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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