How to Clean a Rusty Shower Rod

What You'll Need
Heavy grit sandpaper
Steel wool
Leather work gloves
Safety glasses
Metal primer
Etching solution

You can remove rust from a shower rod to save money that might otherwise be spent on a replacement. Even if a shower rod is covered in rust, underneath is a fresh layer of metal. Cleaning it is just a matter of putting in the energy to make the rod look new again. A few tools and some elbow grease are all you need to transform an old shower rod into a shiny new bathroom fixture.

Step 1 - Secure the Rod

In order to keep the shower rod from floundering while you remove the rust, you have to secure it. Open your bench vise and lock in the shower rod at its middle. Be careful not to tighten it too much or else the metal could bend.

Step 2 - Safety Gear

Wear safety glasses and leather work gloves to remove the rust from the shower rod. Fine particles could get into your eyes and the oils from your hands could actually increase later rusting. You may also choose to wear a face mask.

Step 3 - Sandpaper or Steel Wool

Either wrap the heavy grit sandpaper or the steel wool around the circumference of the rod and somewhat forcefully grind it back and forth over the rust. Keep a firm grip. Depending on the thickness of the rust, this could take a while. After some work, most of the rust will come off, revealing a shiny metal surface beneath. Move the rod in the vise as needed to reach the entire length.

Step 4 - Metal Etching Solution

If the sandpaper and/or steel wool do not work to remove all of the rust, consider applying an amount of metal etching solution which works to strip off particles while preserving the base metal. Definitely wear gloves for this. You may even put on a pair of latex gloves beneath your work gloves since leather is porous. After you apply it, let it work according to manufacturer’s instructions and reuse the steel wool.

Step 5 - Primer and Paint

If you simply want a base metal, newly-shined shower rod, there is no need to go further. You may wish to protect the metal from future rust by priming and painting it. Spray metal primer works the best. Do this outdoors or in a very well ventilated area. Follow the primer with a spray on metal paint, such as Rustoleum.

Step 6 - Let Dry and Rehang

After any spray on paint has been allowed to dry, refasten the shower curtain rings to the rod and hang it once again above the tub.

What was previously a rusted piece of metal is now a new-looking shower rod. It cost you nothing save for any of the repair materials you had to buy. In the future, if you decided to leave it as bare metal, run some steel wool over it whenever the smallest amount of rust appears. If you painted the rod, it will be protected from water corrosion for a long time. It will not need to be repainted until you begin to notice paint flaking away.