Those unsightly rust stains hanging out on your sink have to go! You've tried some traditional bathroom cleaners, and they aren't cutting it. You need to know exactly how to remove that rust from your bathroom sink. We've done the research and have some tried and true methods for you to try.
To remove rust from a bathroom sink, there are several different methods to try. Your success will depend on the length of time the rust has been present and whether or not it has made itself a permanent part of your sink's surface. You might have to repeat these methods or try several of them before you are successful.
- Make a mixture of lemon and salt.
- Use baking soda and vinegar.
- Consider using a pumice stone.
- Try abrasive scouring pads.
- Use commercial cleaners
Though these methods sound rather straightforward, there are some more details to consider before you jump in. Sinks are made of various materials, so be sure to read on and make sure you use the method best for your sink. As a general rule, always complete a spot test with the methods below before using them all over your fixtures and sink.
Make a Mixture of Lemon and Salt
One of the easiest and most affordable methods of removing rust from your bathroom sink is a simple mixture of lemon and salt. You can use bottled or fresh lemon or lime juice. Since you'll need a good size amount of the juice, bottled is likely the easiest method.
- Clean the sink thoroughly with either water or a standard all-purpose cleaner, then dry it. Make sure the drains are blocked, so you don't inadvertently lose your mixture.
- Start with about 1/4 cup of salt and add lemon or lime juice until a thick, gritty paste has formed.
- Spread the mixture evenly on all the rusty spots. Allow it to sit for several hours or overnight.
- Scrub the mixture over the stain using a toothbrush or microfiber cloth after it has set.
- Rinse the sink.
- Repeat if necessary.
This method works on light surface stains and is mild enough to use on most sink surfaces.
Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar are amazing on stains that are a little bit tougher. Be extremely careful when mixing these two ingredients because they create a fizzy chemical reaction that will leave you with a big mess when mixed too quickly.
- Add about 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda to a mixing bowl.
- Slowly add a small amount of vinegar to the baking soda, starting with about one teaspoon at a time, mixing well in between. Continue adding vinegar until you have a paste about the same thickness as white glue. The mixture will generally contain about 1 part vinegar to 3 parts baking soda.
- Apply to the rust spots and allow to sit for about 15 minutes.
- After the initial 15 minute wait, rub the paste into the stain but do not scrub.
- Wait another 45 minutes to an hour before wiping the mixture (and hopefully the rust) away.
- Repeat if rust stains still visible.
Consider using a Pumice Stone
To use a pumice stick or stone, wet the pumice, wet the rusty spot, and gently rub the spot with the pumice until the rust is gone. The dampened stone will create something like a paste as you rub the spot. When done, rinse the spot with clean water. This method is not advised on sinks made of acrylic or fiberglass as it could scratch the surface.
Will a Pumice Stone Scratch Porcelain?
A pumice stone will not scratch porcelain; in fact, a pumice stone works extremely well on removing rust stains on porcelain. Scrub away!
Try Abrasive Scouring Pads
Using an abrasive scouring pad or even sandpaper can be an effective way of ridding the bathroom sink of rust. Similar to using the pumice stone, slightly wet the scouring pad or sandpaper, as well as the spot in question, before scrubbing. Do not use a steel-wool scrubbing pad as this could create scratches on the sink. Avoid this method on acrylic or fiberglass unless you've performed a spot test first. This method is good for extremely light, recent rust stains.
Use Commercial Cleaners
There are tons of products on the market that are lauded to remove rust stains. Any number of them could be very effective. Some homeowners shy away from these cleaners as they can have strong odors and use toxic chemicals. For those extremely stubborn rust stains, it might be necessary to use them. Many of these commercial cleaners can cause skin and eye irritation, so proceed with caution.
Here are some popular rust removers for your bathroom sink:
This cleaner uses oxalic acid along with ground quartz and pumice to scrub away rust. The cream cleanser is a bit less abrasive but does come in powder form as well. Zud claims to remove soap scum, mineral stains, rust, and hard water deposits and work on most metal types.
As with our homemade methods, it's important to let the solvent sit on the stain for a considerable amount of time before scrubbing. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and safety precautions.
Bar Keepers Friend
Bar Keepers Friend is potentially the solvent least likely to leave scratches, even if you use the powder form. It includes mineral feldspar, sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate (a common detergent), and oxalic acid. This cleaner will remove rust and mineral deposits from all metallic surfaces and remove stains from tougher surfaces like porcelain, glass, or ceramic.
Does Bar Keepers Friend Work on an Acrylic Sink?
Bar Keepers Friend does work on acrylic sinks. Of all the other cleaner's we've mentioned by name here, this is the one you'd want to use if you have an acrylic or fiberglass sink as it is the least likely to scratch the surface. Always spot test on an unseen area before cleaning the entire surface.
CLR stands for "calcium, lime, and rust." This cleaner's main ingredients include water, lactic acid, and gluconic acid. CLR is a powerful cleaner but doesn't work on stone, and several types of metal, including aluminum, galvanized metal, nickel, brass, or copper. It claims to be non-toxic and derived from vegetables. CLR has great reviews, but the types of sinks you can use this on are limited.
No matter which cleaner you go with, be sure to follow all the safety precautions and watch breathing in potentially toxic fumes. Wear gloves and avoid skin contact.
Does WD-40 Remove Rust From Stainless Steel?
WD-40 is traditionally thought to be a lubricant, but this wasn't its original nor only use! Most of us use WD-40 if the sliding glass door gets stuck or on a stubborn bicycle chain. Still, it is actually a combination of elements, including anti-corrosion agents and ingredients for penetration, water displacement, and soil removal. Because of these elements, WD-40 is great at removing light rust stains.
Although stainless steel doesn't really "rust," it does develop a corrosive layer. WD-40 sprayed on the surface will wipe away this layer with ease! Just spray on the WD-40, let it penetrate for 10-15 minutes, and wipe away. Using this method can really make your steel bathroom sink shine.
Does Comet Scratch Stainless Steel?
Comet can indeed scratch stainless steel. Using any powder type cleaner, you run the risk of getting scratches. Although Comet's website advises it is okay to use stainless steel, it is best to avoid cleaners like Comet and Ajax when cleaning stainless steel or acrylic sinks. There is really no reason to run the risk with these cleaners when there are so many other strong cleaners with a lower scratching risk.
Additionally, do not use cleaners with bleach or chlorine when trying to remove rust from stainless steel as these could make the stain worse or affect the integrity of your sink.
Does Coke Remove Rust?
Coca-Cola can remove some rust. Severely rusted items or items that have been rusted for a long time will not be improved much with Coke.
For this method to work well, the item needs to be submerged in the cola for at least 24 hours and then scrubbed with an abrasive scouring pad. The Coke method won't work well on sinks or tubs as it is not possible to soak it completely in the cola. You can try saturating a sponge or cloth with the cola and leaving it to sit on the rust stain for a full 24 hours, then followup by scrubbing the spot with cola. Results with this will vary dependent on the age of the stain and elbow grease.
You can repeat the soaking and scrubbing process as many times as desired to reach your best results.
If all the above-mentioned recommendations fail, you could always try to cover those rust stains with some nice decorations.
Rust stains on your bathroom sink can be a huge headache and mar the beauty of your lovely space. Be prepared to put in some work and time to rid yourself of them. Try your best to stop rust stains before they happen. Fix the leaky faucet, clean your sinks regularly, and don't leave that wet can of shaving cream just sitting there to rust on your beautiful porcelain sink. Otherwise, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to scrubbing!
If you want to ditch the whole sink and countertop, read our article, "Where to Buy a Bathroom Vanity (Top 30 Online Stores)".