How to Clean Tarnished Chrome: 5 Effective Methods

Sometimes, the sparkle from your chrome fades, your bathroom and kitchen faucets develop limescale, or your favorite frame gets scratched.  When this happens, you may find yourself wondering how to clean the tarnish from chrome. 

Here is how to clean tarnished chrome:

  • Scrub off tarnish with Bar Keeper’s Friend
  • Soak the chrome in vinegar
  • Clean the chrome with lemon
  • Use baking soda to scrub off stains
  • Scrub off rust with vinegar

The baking soda and vinegar methods have successfully removed marks, scratches, and buildup on chrome. The rest of this article will detail the steps of each technique, how to remove rust from chrome, how to make old chrome shine like new, and general cleaning practices from chrome pieces. 

Cleaning tarnished chrome.

1. Scrub Off Tarnish With Bar Keeper’s Friend

A great way to boost your cleaning game is by polishing up your chrome surfaces. You can find chrome in water faucets, kitchen appliances, and vehicles for the most part. It repels stains, rust, and dirt on its own, but that doesn’t mean it’s stain and tarnish-proof. 

In particular, chrome faucets and kitchen devices seem to be where scale, scum, water spots, and other stubborn stains leave their mark.

If you’re looking for a great cleaning product that you can purchase to remove the tarnish from your chrome, you will likely have great luck using Bar Keeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser (available on Amazon).

Bar Keeper’s Friend also has a classic cleanser product, but the cleanser liquid is excellent for quick cleaning tasks. This product has excellent reviews and consistently produces exceptional finishes and shine. 

Bar Keeper’s Friend, particularly the soft liquid scrub, will stick to chrome and other metal surfaces and easily remove scum, stains, scale, and tarnish. Plus, it’s non-toxic and gentle for soft metals such as chrome. 

When cleaning chrome pieces, it’s important to avoid abrasive cleaners, scrub pads, or stiff-bristled brushes. These products are great for other cleaning tasks but can scratch or damage chrome. 

Instead, you should opt for soft, microfiber towels to use on chrome surfaces. If you want to give Bar Keeper’s Friend a try, apply the product to the chrome surface you’re cleaning. Then, use a clean and dry sponge or microfiber towel to apply the product and scrub away imperfections.

However, if you’re looking for a natural and nonchemical product to use to clean your chrome surfaces, you may prefer some other cleaning options like vinegar or baking soda solutions. 

2. Soak The Chrome in Vinegar

Stubborn hard water stains are common issues with chrome surfaces, especially in the kitchen or bathroom. If this is something you’re dealing with, read on to figure out how to combat this issue effectively naturally with vinegar.

Vinegar is a great chrome cleaner, mainly because it doesn’t take a lot of product to reach your desired results. Vinegar is also versatile and easily used on multiple types of surfaces, making it an excellent cleaner.

If you want to try vinegar to clean your chrome surfaces, you will need to first mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar and water in a small bowl or bucket. Next, get a clean microfiber cloth and put it in your vinegar solution. You want to allow the towel to soak up the solution as much as possible.

Then, using a rubber band or something else to secure the towel in place, wrap the towel around the spout of the chrome faucet or whatever surface you’re working on. Allow the vinegar-soaked towel to sit in the area for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

You can also use an old toothbrush or soft-bristled brush to apply the vinegar mixture and scrub away imperfections.

Once the 15 minutes have passed, remove the towel and wipe the surface down with a separate cloth.  

3. Clean The Chrome With Lemon

If you don’t have any vinegar on hand, you can also use lemon to clean tarnish off chrome surfaces. 

For this method, you will need lemons. Use your best judgment on how many lemons to use; depending on the area you’re cleaning and how extensive the tarnish buildup is, you could use upwards of a dozen lemons or as few as one. 

The first thing you’ll want to do is cut a lemon in half and apply the halved lemons to the affected area.

Let the lemon juice sit on the chrome for a few minutes before removing them; wipe the surface with a damp microfiber cloth. You will then want to dry the surface to reveal the full effects of the cleaning. 

Lemon is an all-natural acidic cleaner, and it is safe to use on various surfaces for many different cleaning tasks.

4. Use Baking Soda To Scrub Off Stains

Chrome is a popular material since it repels rust and dirt on its own, so you might be wondering why it loses its shine and why tarnish can build up on these surfaces.

According to Team Clean, the top refined layer of chrome is thin. So, when it’s continuously exposed to moisture, as most faucets and car parts are, tiny scratches appear over time, exposing the metal to oxygen and creating tarnish and rust.

If you don’t have vinegar or lemons on hand, and you don’t want to try out Bar Keeper’s Friend, you can always try baking soda.

Baking soda is a household staple that cleaning experts and enthusiasts alike rely on for a wide variety of cleaning tasks, especially polishing chrome and other metal surfaces.

Baking soda is beneficial for stubborn and set-in stains. Some recommend adding a few sprinkles of baking soda into a vinegar and water mixture to boost cleaning strength. Check out this article from Factory Direct Chemicals for more information. 

If you just want to use baking soda, add small amounts of warm water to a bowl of baking soda. Then, add just enough water to turn the mixture into a paste. A good starting point is a quart of warm water mixed with about 4 to 6 tablespoons of baking soda.

Apply the mixture to your chrome surface and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. The paste mixture will stiffen and flake away as the baking soda absorbs the water. 

Then, you can wipe away the remaining baking soda mix with a damp microfiber cloth. Sometimes, tarnish needs additional scrubbing with a rag or soft brush to remove all the blemishes altogether. 

A soft-bristled toothbrush can be highly effective at removing tarnish from surfaces. Simply apply your product, like a baking soda mixture, to the chrome surface, gently scrubbing imperfections with the soft bristles of the toothbrush.

Still, it’s important to note that you should never use a stiff brush or steel wool on your chrome. Stiff bristles can scratch chrome surfaces, so be careful what scrubbing agent and tools you use.

5. Scrub Off Rust With Vinegar

If your tarnished chrome has reddish streaks or visible deposits or rust on it, you’ll have to use some specific cleaning agents to get rid of the rust stains.

Rust can be extremely stubborn and difficult to remove. However, several products have great reviews for removing rust from old chrome

One such product is good ol’ Bar Keeper’s Friend. As discussed above, this product is highly effective at several cleaning tasks, including removing rust from chrome. In addition, as I said earlier, this product is non-toxic and safe to use.  Plus, Bar Keeper’s Friend is cheap and available at most grocery stores and superstores.

Other consumer options include Turtle Wax and Loctite Naval Jelly. These products claim to be highly effective at dissolving rust and are also readily available at many major retailers.

If you’re not interested in purchasing a product to remove the rust buildup on your chrome surfaces, a great alternative is undiluted vinegar.

To use vinegar, you will need distilled white vinegar and pieces of aluminum foil. To begin, add vinegar to a small bowl or bucket. Do not mix water with vinegar. 

Take a piece of aluminum foil and crumple it slightly. Next, dip the aluminum into the vinegar and scrub with medium force. You may need to repeat this multiple times to eradicate the rust. 

There are also many cream polishes that you can purchase for removing rust available in most automotive shops. These polishes are effective, but they do require a lot of scrubbing.

Many people say that using steel wool is more straightforward than other methods of removing rust because it doesn’t need multiple applications of the product and a lot of scrubbing. However, you have to be cautious when using it since it can scratch the chrome. Typically, you can use steel wool to remove rust in just a matter of minutes.

Check out this video to see just how simple it is to use and the finish it leaves:


There are many ways to remove tarnish from chrome surfaces. However, most buildup, such as limescale, soap scum, and rust, can leave chrome looking dull, rusty, and dirty.

For all of these issues, there are various consumer products available for purchase at most major retailers, but my preferred store-bought solution is Bar Keeper’s Friend.

Other than consumer products, you can also opt for natural cleaners like lemons, vinegar, or baking soda to effectively clean chrome surfaces.

No matter what cleaning agent you choose, remember to always use soft fibers for scrubbing chrome surfaces to avoid scratching the finish.

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