There's nothing like bright, shiny chrome bathroom fixtures after they're first installed. They add flash and style to any bathroom and go with just about any bathroom decor. But what happens when the shine wears off? How do you remove rust from chrome bathroom fixtures? We've done some searching and have the best techniques for you to try.
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Try the following methods to remove rust from chrome bathroom fixtures:
- Apply vinegar to the rusty spots
- Use soda to remove rust
- Use WD-40 to loosen rust
- Fashion a ball of aluminum foil as a scraper
- Scrub with steel or brass wool
- Use a commercial chrome or metal polish
Now that you have a basic list of the methods to try when removing rust from chrome bathroom fixtures, let's go over each and discuss how to employ the chosen method. We'll discuss the properties of chrome, as well as answer some additional questions you might have. Keep scrolling!
The Making Of Chrome Fixtures
Creating chrome fixtures is done with a few different methods, but the one most often used is dipping the fixture into a vat of melted chromium. The base of the fixture is generally brass, steel, or copper. An electric current is moved through the fixture, causing the chrome to harden onto the metal's surface. There are no truly solid chrome fixtures; a chrome finish is plating only.
Before you begin trying to remove any rust, it's important to note that many fixtures lauded as chrome are actually just painted to look like chrome. These painted finishes will scratch away if using anything abrasive to remove the rust. So, before getting started, know for sure if your fixtures are actually chrome-plated or just painted to look like chrome. If you're unsure, test an inconspicuous area with an abrasive sponge.
Looking to remove rust from a bathroom sink? Check out our article, "How to Get Rust off a Bathroom Sink?"
Why Chrome Rusts - And Removal Methods
A chrome finish typically protects the metal beneath from rusting. Rust generally forms only when there is damage to the chrome, such as in the event of a scratch or a dent. Once air or moisture gets in through the chrome's pitted parts, this is when rust will develop and spread. Chrome doesn't normally oxidize or discolor like stainless steel.
Vinegar is the best natural ingredient to use on chrome for removing rusty spots. To use vinegar on a build-up of rust, apply straight white vinegar to the rust and allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes, if not longer. Once it has had the chance to sit, use a sponge to scrub away the rust. Repeat as needed until the desired results are established. Use a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water solution periodically to keep chrome shiny and rust-free.
Finish by using car wax or chrome fixture wax to seal the pitted area, dent, or scratch that allowed the rust build-up to begin with.
Will vinegar damage chrome fixtures?
Vinegar is an excellent cleaning substance to have in the home with an unlimited amount of uses. Vinegar is also safe to use on chrome fixtures; it is the best natural, inexpensive option to clean and care for chrome. As a solvent, vinegar is strong enough to clear through rust and corrosion, as well as hard water stains. Despite its strength, it will not damage the shine of your chrome fixtures.
Wondering if you can remove rust with Coke? Surprisingly, yes! Start by cleaning the area with a regular soap scum remover to ensure cleanliness. Pour the cola undiluted directly onto the rusted surface and allow it to sit for as long as possible, preferably a few hours.
If able, and you're desperate enough, remove the fixture completely and soak in the cola overnight. After a nice, long soak, remove the rust using an abrasive sponge. Remember to only use this method on actual chrome plating -- not chrome colored paint.
WD-40 is more than just a lubricant. Not only will WD-40 remove rust from chrome, but it also protects metal surfaces from rusting. WD-40 is safe for most paints, so this method would work on fixtures painted to resemble chrome but not actually plated with chromium.
To use WD-40 for rust removal, thoroughly saturate the rusty spot with WD-40 and allow it to sit for at least 10 minutes. The wait time is necessary to ensure the solution can fully penetrate and break up the rust. Once it has been allowed to sit, use a clean, soft cloth to wipe the rust away. Repeat as necessary until the spot is clean. Follow by treating with car wax or a commercial metal protectant to prevent the rust from returning.
Aluminum foil scraper
If you don't have anything on hand to clean the rust and you want to tackle the issue right away, a simple ball of aluminum foil can do the trick. This method works well in conjunction with the vinegar or soda method.
To make an aluminum foil scraper, fold a large sheet of aluminum foil over on itself at least four times until you have a thick layer of foil. Next, wad that foil up until a ball. Be careful, as folded or bunched foil can have sharp edges. Once the ball is established, dip it in water or cola and use the saturated part to scrub at the rusty spot. This might take some elbow grease on your part but is more than useful in a pinch.
Steel wool or brass wool
If the applied solutions we've recommended don't completely remove the rust, they can be used along with a steel or brass wool scrubber. These abrasive surfaces help to break up and remove the rust. An abrasive scrubber can be used on its own. However, it will work best with some sort of solvent to help break down the rust.
Start by applying the chosen solvent (vinegar, soda, WD-40, etc.) and allow it to sit. After at least ten minutes, use the steel or brass wool to scrub the rust until it has been removed. Remember to protect your fixtures after you've removed the rust to keep the chrome pristine going forward.
Use a commercial chrome or metal polish
Many popular products on the market for bathroom fixtures remove rust, clean, and protect.
To use a commercial cleaner, follow the manufacturer's instructions. If the commercial cleaner you're using doesn't including some kind of protectant as well, be sure to use high-quality car wax to seal and protect the surface of your fixtures to prevent these issues from reoccurring.
How long do chrome bathroom fixtures last?
With proper care and maintenance, the life expectancy of a chrome fixture can exceed your own. In fact, many chrome fixtures last many generations. Clean all your fixtures with a vinegar mixture regularly (1 part vinegar to 1 part water) to eliminate and prevent soap scrum and water spots. The shiny surface of the chrome is apt to showing every fingerprint or water stain. Consider using a clean, soft cloth after each use to keep it shiny and clean.
Does chrome plating rust?
Chrome is naturally rust and corrosion-resistant. The only time rust will build up on chrome-plated fixtures is if the chrome itself was compromised somehow. If your chrome has any dents, holes, cracks, or pits, it is no longer rust-resistant and could begin corroding. Treat any imperfections on the fixture with car wax or some other form or protectant to ensure rust does not occur.
There are many tried and true methods to remove rust from your bathroom fixtures. It might take a few tries and a handful of methods, but with diligence, you can restore the shine to your chrome. Roll up your sleeves and get to scrubbing!
For more information on how to clean chrome bathroom fixtures, read our post about that.