A Guide to Removing Rust from Sinks and Tubs
Homeowners often encounter unsightly brownish rust stains in kitchen sinks and bathtub drains. This common nuisance tends to develop as the result of water which has a naturally high iron content or which runs through rusty pipes. Not only is rust unsightly and unhygienic, if left alone, it can cause serious staining. Rusted iron nails can even result in structural damage to cupboards and other cabinetry.
If rust is a constant problem that plagues your home, consider hiring a cleaning service. They can bring specialized chemicals and scrub away your rust. What’s more, regular routine cleaning can also prevent rust forming in the first place. On the other hand, if you’re a do-it-yourself person and you don’t mind the hassle, here are several ways to remove rust on your own.
There are a variety of anti-rust products on the market. These include Rust-Oleum, ZEP, CLR and RustAid. Most of these products contain harsh chemicals, so proper safety precautions should be taken, such as wearing gloves. Often the rust must first be chipped away before applying some of the chemicals. Be sure to follow all the directions and safety precautions on the label.
You'll find organic compounds on the market as well – the most popular being Rusterizer. In addition, a number or homemade solutions don’t involve harsh chemicals either. One of the most popular homemade rust removal compounds is white vinegar. You can apply it undiluted directly to the rust by spraying or dabbing it on, or you can submerge the rusted object in vinegar or lemon juice for 30 minutes before rinsing it off. Lemon juice is another option. Alternatively, gentle scrubbing with a pumice stone can remove surface-area stains easily and quickly.
Aside from targeting already-formed rust, the best way to deal with the problem is to prevent it forming in the first place, with the following techniques:
- Wipe your basin or tub dry after use.
- Avoid using excessive bleach when cleaning sinks and drains; bleach combines with dissolved iron in the plumbing system to actually encourage rust formation.
- If your local water supply contains a high percentage of iron, try installing a water softener.
- In a serious case, apply one of the protective sprays and coatings marketed by Rust-Oleum.
Updated April 4, 2018.