How to clean rust pitted chrome

Written by larry simmons
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How to clean rust pitted chrome
Brightly polished chrome adds to the visual impact of a car engine. (chrome engine image by Thomas Czeizinger from

Chrome is a common bright work metal used in vehicles. Tarnish resistant with a bright shine, chrome provides an attractive add-on covering to any engine. Although chrome may be highly tarnish resistant, it does tend to rust over time. If this rust is allowed to sit on the metal, the rusting can cause chrome pieces to become pitted. Short of re-chroming the pitted part, you can still restore the beauty of the finish by removing the rust and polishing the metal. This process is effective only as long as the chrome isn't flaking off. Through polishing, the pitted surface can be made to shine brightly again, in the end looking nearly as good as new.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Steel wool
  • Toothbrush
  • Water
  • Glass
  • Household cleanser
  • Cotton cloth
  • Chrome polish

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  1. 1

    Remove the rust from the chrome finish of the part. Use a fine grade of steel wool to lightly buff away the rust. Rub at the surface of the chrome with a brisk back and forth motion, always moving along the part to prevent severely scratching the finish. Continue to buff until all traces of the rust have been removed.

  2. 2

    Use a toothbrush dipped in household cleanser to clean hard-to-reach areas in the chrome part such as cracks or crevices. Wet the brush in a glass of water and then dip in a pile of standard household cleanser. Scrub vigorously at the rust until its wiped clear. Rinse the part thoroughly to remove any residue left from the cleanser.

  3. 3

    Polish the cleaned, rust-free chrome using a soft cotton cloth and chrome polish. Place a small circle of polish onto the cloth, about a dime in size, and then apply the polish to the chrome. Buff the polish on the chrome surface until the chrome shines brightly.

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