How to Clean and Repair Dishwasher Rust Spots

inside of a dishwasher
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Baking soda
Dishwasher detergent
Silver polish
Polishing cloth
Soft scouring pad
Steel wool
Liquid plastic

Knowing how to repair dishwasher rust spots can help prolong the life of your appliance and kitchenware. Getting rust flakes off of your cutlery and dishes can be a nuisance and you will want to make sure dishwasher rust spots don’t come back. Taking the time to clean utensils and plates properly and repair the damage that is the source of your problem will soon have your dinnerware looking sparkling again.

Step 1 - Vinegar and Baking Soda

When you first start to notice rust spots on your cutlery, soak them in vinegar for five to 10 minutes. Remove the cutlery from the vinegar and using a soft scouring pad before scrubbing each utensil with baking soda until the rust spots disappear. Let the baking soda and vinegar paste sit on the utensil for at least an hour before rinsing with warm water.

Step 2 - Toothpaste

toothpaste leaking out of a tube

Fluoride toothpaste is an environmentally friendly option of cleaning rust spots from your cutlery. Rinse each utensil with hot water before placing a small dab of toothpaste directly on the rust spot. Scrub the utensil using small circles with a sponge or soft scouring pad. Clean off the toothpaste with warm water once the rust spot is gone.

Step 3 - Detergent Paste

If the environmentally friendly option doesn't work, you may need to use a more abrasive cleaner. Make a grainy paste of dishwasher detergent and warm water in a small bowl. Scrub the rust spots with a small amount of detergent paste on the corner of a damp sponge or soft scouring pad and rinse with warm water. Repeat the scouring process as many times as you need to completely remove rust spots from your cutlery. Hand wash and thoroughly rinse your utensils to remove any detergent residue.

Step 4 - Silver Polish

Once you have removed the rust spots from your cutlery, you may wish to shine and protect your utensils with silver polish. Dab some silver polish on a soft polishing cloth and gently rub it into your utensils. Let the polish sit for five to 10 minutes on your cutlery before buffing it out with a clean part of your polishing cloth. Make sure you remove all traces of silver polish before using your utensils.

Step 5 - Dishwasher Repair

dishwasher door ajar

After cleaning rust spots from your cutlery, you will want to repair the source of the problem in your dishwasher so they won’t reappear. Remove the dish racks from your dishwasher so you can inspect them in bright light on your counter. Look for places where the protective plastic coating has come off the metal bars. These will often be the focal points for rust. Using steel wool, scrape away any rust until you can see the clean metal underneath. Cover the exposed metal with liquid plastic (available at most hardware stores), allowing the plastic coating to dry overnight before replacing the rack in your dishwasher.

If you can’t find any rust on your dishwasher rack, you will need to look further inside the machine for the source of your rust spot problems. Use a flashlight to look at the hard-to-reach corners inside your dishwasher. Take the small removable parts out and inspect them carefully, removing any rust with steel wool and liquid plastic as you did for the dish racks. Some parts are not covered with liquid plastic and may need to be replaced.