Whether you’ve just replaced your kitchen sink with an updated model or were tired of the frequent fixes the old sink required, the last thing you want to see while standing at your new stainless steel sink is rust forming. As infuriating as this can be, it helps to understand why it could happen. So why would a brand new stainless steel sink be rusting?
Your brand new stainless steel sink may be rusting due to galvanic corrosion, or surface rust. Rust occurs when metal pans and utensils sit in a stainless steel sink for too long. It’s not your sink rusting but the things in your sink leaving behind rust stains.
In this article, I’ll teach you why your stainless steel sink could be rusting. I’ll also give you some tips on how to remove the rust and offer some ways to prevent it from continuing to happen.
Stainless steel includes various elements, some of which may rust.
Stainless steel sinks include iron, which will oxidize when coming into contact with moisture or oxygen. However, some other metals in stainless steel can prevent rust from forming.
Among these alloying elements is chromium. A protective layer of chromium will protect the iron, preventing stainless steel from oxidizing and rusting.
The higher the percentage of chromium in stainless steel, the more durable it is. The less chromium there is in stainless steel, the more prone it will be to rusting.
However, iron is and will always be prone to rust, no matter how many other metals you mix it with. Common causes of rust in stainless steel sinks include:
Some cleaning products, such as bleach, can cause damage to your sink by breaking down the chromium layer that protects the iron from water and air.
To avoid rust, do not use any cleaning products that contain:
- Mineral spirits
- Lighter fluid
You should never use rough materials when scrubbing your stainless steel sink to clean it.
Rough materials can scratch away the chromium coating on your stainless steel sink, leading to corrosion. Some of the things you should avoid using in your sink include:
- Metal brushes
- Steel brushes
- Steel wool
- Abrasive sponges
Instead, it’s best to clean your sink with a microfiber cloth.
These Bessrung Microfiber Cleaning Cloths (Amazon) are perfect for cleaning stainless steel. They are highly absorbent and have a soft texture that makes cleaning up messes a breeze.
Water left at the bottom of your sink for extended periods will cause rust stains. Water can contain high amounts of iron. When the iron mixes with moisture and oxygen, the reaction you get is oxidation, causing rust stains to form on the surface of your stainless steel kitchen sink.
So, always allow the water in your sink to drain after you’re done using it. If you need to soak something, put the soaking water in a bowl instead of directly in the sink tub.
Allowing wet sponges to sit in your sink for too long will also keep the metal damp, leading to rust.
Many people leave wet sponges and cloths in their sinks to dry after use, but keeping them on the metal surface is not suitable for the metal. Leaving a soggy sponge in your stainless steel sink causes stains and discoloration, leaving your sink looking less than new.
So, to protect your sink, hang your sponges on a tile surface or use a plastic container or soap dish to separate the metal sink from your wet sponges.
While salt is in most people’s kitchen cabinets, you should never let it settle in a stainless steel sink.
Unfortunately, most dishes include some salt, and when those plates go in the sink, so does the remaining salt stuck to them. Stainless steel continuously subjected to salt water will begin corroding and rusting.
So, always clean your sink after washing salty substances down the drain to prevent rust from taking over.
How to Remove Rust From Stainless Steel Sinks
Many remedies work to remove rust stains from a stainless steel kitchen sink.
You can buy relatively inexpensive rust-stain solutions from a local store or create a paste using ingredients you may already have at home. Here are step-by-step instructions for how to make this paste and how to use it:
You will need:
- Baking soda
- Distilled white vinegar
- Small bowl for mixing
Here are the steps you need to take:
- Pour ¼ of a cup (45 grams) of baking soda into a small bowl.
- Slowly mix in vinegar a little at a time until you have a thick paste consistency.
- Dip a toothbrush into the paste and apply a generous coating to the area of rust.
- Let the paste sit for 15 minutes.
- Scrub the rust spots in a circular motion with the toothbrush.
- Rinse the area with water and repeat as needed.
If the rust is quite bad, let the paste sit overnight. Rinse it away the following day, and it will be clear of any rust. This is a convenient and easy way to remove the rust from your stainless steel sink with ingredients you may already have.
There are a variety of store-bought rust removers that have high success rates as well. Several rust remover options include:
- Rustoleum Rust Dissolver Gel
- Bar Keepers Friend Soft Cleanser
- Hope’s Perfect Sink
- Iron OUT Rust Stain Remover
- Rust Kutter
How to Prevent Stainless Steel Sinks From Rusting
Properly caring for stainless steel can keep rusting to a minimum and keep your sink in excellent condition. Here are some tips to prevent rusting:
- Don’t use harsh chemicals. If harsh chemicals come in contact with your sink, rinse it thoroughly so that damage doesn’t occur to the chromium layer of your stainless steel sink.
- Keep your sink empty. Don’t leave metal utensils or other items in your sink to dry or for an extended period of time. This leaves rust marks and rings behind from where pans and baking sheets oxidize due to moisture and oxygen. Utensils, food cans, and many other items cause this as well, so it’s best not to leave anything in your sink for too long.
- Keep your sink dry. Keep your sink dry by wiping away any water or spills sitting inside. Don’t allow liquids to pool in your sink, or hard water stains and rust deposits can occur. If this happens, use vinegar to remove the hard water stains.
- Use a sink grid. Use a grid at the bottom of your sink to protect it from scratches. This allows dirty dishes to rest on the grid while in the sink instead of directly on the sink itself.
- Clean your sink regularly. Making it a habit to clean your sink each time you use it will help protect it from rust. Wipe down all fixtures and clean the entire surface of the sink, including under soap dispensers, the grid, and holders for sponges and cleaning brushes.
These suggestions will prevent rust from forming and keep your sink looking shiny and new.
With a name like “stainless steel,” the last thing you would think you’d have to deal with is rust in your brand-new kitchen sink. Luckily, surface rust is pretty easy to remove, and your stainless steel sink can look brand new again in no time.
If you are mindful of what’s being put in your sink and keep the tips from this article in mind, preventing and removing rust will not be a problem.