Removing and Preventing Rust on Your Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink

Stainless steel kitchen sinks are beautiful and durable additions to the modern kitchen. Though no material is perfect, stainless steel comes in close for kitchens. However, the stainless finish is important to protect so that it will last for many years to come. Oftentimes preventing rust or removing rust from the sink is as simple as not allowing harm to the finish and preventing other rusting metals from becoming a problem.

Water with High Iron Content

The iron in the water will eventually begin to produce a brown film over the stainless metal. Around the drain rim or crevices between sprayer attachments can also develop this iron build-up. This is not the sink rusting this is due to the iron in the water. Luckily, towel drying after use will prevent the rust appearance and keep the sink looking sharp. If the residue has already built up within the sink, filling the sink with water and using a plastic scouring pad can often remove the rusty film. For tough cases applying a paste of baking soda and water can help with scouring.

Steel Wool Pads

Steel wool pads and other abrasives can be damaging to the finish on the stainless steel and the fibers may also begin to embed themselves inside the metal. As steel wool or other metal scouring pads break apart, fine metal fibers can become embedded into the finish on the stainless. These metal fibers will begin to rust and give the appearance the sink itself is rusting. ScotchBrite and other plastic or knit scouring pads should be used when working with dishes or cleaning to avoid the rusty appearance.

No Chloride Cleaners

Numerous cleaners on the market today use chloride in some form. This is especially true of kitchen and bathroom cleaners. Check ingredient labels carefully and remove any products which are already in the home. Chlorides are very harsh to stainless steel because the residues which are left behind can cause pitting within the finish. Once the finish has been pitted, the metals can easily become exposed and rusty. For routine cleaning and sanitation, once a month fill the sink a quarter full with a 50/50 solution of bleach and water. Allow the solution to sit for 15 minutes and wipe the sides and basin out as the solution drains. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and dry immediately.

Removing Rust

To remove existing rust, citric acid crystals can be purchased at most health foods stores or over the Internet. These crystals become dissolved in water and will remove the existing rust. When applying, be sure to wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated space. Smear the citric acid onto the rust liberally, allow to sit for a minute or two. Rinse thoroughly with cool distilled water. For multiple applications, keep the mixture hot. The citric acid will passivate the stainless steel and remove any free iron within the metal. A chrome oxide layer will then form within the metals preventing further rusting.