How to Remove Rust From Your Dishes

If you tend to wash your dishes in the dishwasher, then you may notice that over time they're forming rust from the dishwasher. Whether rust spots are increasing due to strong bleaching agents in dishwasher detergent, or some of your cutlery isn't dishwasher safe, you may be tempted just to throw these items out. Rust can damage the look of your items and cause safety concerns, but you can remove rust stains on your dishes.

Woman Standing At Kitchen Sink Washing Up
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If you tend to wash your dishes in the dishwasher, then you may notice that over time they're forming rust from the dishwasher.

What Is Rust?

Rust is a reddish-brown compound called iron oxide. According to the American Galvanizers Association, rust naturally forms when specific metals are exposed to oxygen and water for long periods. The only metals that you'll see with rust are steel and iron, but other types of metals can become corroded by rust.

If iron or steel is left in a dry environment, then it will not rust. But if you add moisture, then the oxidation process will happen according to the American Galvanizers Association. The air naturally has moisture in it, so the oxidation process can occur even if there isn't any moisture added to your metal dishes.

Why Does Rust Form?

It's annoying, to say the least, to find the perfect set of knives only to watch them start corroding. The reason this happens is that they're most likely made out of stainless steel. According to Sperko Engineering, stainless steel is created by adding chrome for rust resistance. Nickel is also added but for acid resistance.

If you're purchasing a good set of stainless steel appliances, it should be made out of 18 percent chrome and 10 percent nickel. Although it's called stainless steel, it's more stain-resistant than stainless. Most forks and spoons shouldn't corrode, but the reason why knives tend to corrode is that they are made out of harder steel.

Knives made out of harder steel will last longer, but they are more susceptible to forming rust. The reason why they form rust is that most people repeatedly wash their knives in the dishwasher and rust from the excessive water forms.

Tips to Reduce Rust

A key way to reduce rust from water in dishes is to wash items like knives by hand. Not only will this ensure that your knives won't get rusty, but it will keep your edges sharper for longer. Also, try not to leave acidic or salty food remnants on your cutlery. If you do, this could stain your cutlery.

As soon as you finish washing an item, rinse it off before placing in the dishwasher. It may be tempting to leave dirty dishes in the sink or to sit them in the dishwasher, but the longer you keep them there, the more susceptible they are to forming rust. If you like to wash your cutlery in the dishwasher, open the door when the drying cycle is finished. It's also important not to place certain dishware or cutlery items near each other.

If you have stainless steel, silver-plated or copper items, they should not be touching in your dishwasher. If they do, as soon as the dishwasher starts, the hot water and dishwashing detergent will cause a chemical reaction that will results in discoloration. The same goes for wooden, plastic, bone or china handles. You shouldn't put any of these items in your dishwasher unless they are labeled dishwasher safe.

Choosing the Right Cleaning Product

If you have silver-plated dishes, try not to pour dishwashing detergent directly onto the cutlery. They can become permanently stained this way. Also try to avoid soaking cutlery in soapy water, bleach solutions or salt water for long periods.

If you're trying to clean your cutlery or get rid of watermarks, don't use abrasive cleaning aids. If you have watermarks, these can be easily removed by wiping them off with a softer cleaning rag. Rust stains can be removed by simple home remedies or nonabrasive metal cleaning paste or liquid.

If you're getting rainbow stains on your dishes or cutlery, try cleaning them with lemon juice. You never want to wash your dishes with abrasive cleaning aids or methods because they can further damage your items. If your dishwasher gets dirty try oxygenated dishwasher cleaner.

Removing Rust From Dishes

There are plenty of ways that you can remove rust, and a lot of these items can be found in your home. A popular home remedy choice for removing rust on dishes is vinegar. Using vinegar, you can create a vinegar bath for your dishes to soak in for a few days. After that time period, scrub your dishes, and the rust should be gone.

Another option is lemon and coarse salt. Sprinkle coarse salt right over the rust stain and then squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the salt and rust. Don't get rid of the lemon rind though. After you let the coarse salt and lemon mixture sit on the rust stain for an hour or two, scrub the rust stain with the leftover lemon rind.

If you have small rust stains, a baking soda paste will work perfectly — mix baking soda and water to form a paste and spread this paste over the rust. Afterward, scrub the paste and rust with a toothbrush then let the paste sit for an hour or two. Then you'll scrub one more time, rinse off the baking soda paste mixture and dry the item.

Interesting Home Remedy

A weird but helpful home remedy is to use potato and a tiny bit of dish soap. Cut the potato in half and place the cut side of the potato in a bit of dish soap. Let the potato soak in the soap for a couple of minutes. Make sure that there is enough soap to get onto the cut side of the potato, but not too much where the entire potato is covered in soap.

Using the soapy potato, you're going to rub the rust, and the potato and the soap will work double-time to get rid of the rust. The soap will get rid of the overall dirt and grime, while the potato's oxalic acid (an organic compound found in many plants) will help to break down the rust.


Allanah Dykes

Allanah Dykes is a freelance writer and her work has been featured on Elite Daily, Levo League, Popsugar, Complex, Gurl, The Kitchn, HelloGiggles, Revelist, and Food 52.