The word "chrome" is short for chromium -- a metal rarely found in a solid form. Instead, chrome plating -- a thin layer of the metal -- is applied to more durable materials. Chrome plating can be found on everything from car bumpers to bathroom fixtures. Over time, chrome plating can get dirty or rust. There are steps you can take to repair and restore the look of your chrome plating.
Clean your chrome surface thoroughly using a soft rag and water to remove any dirt or debris.
Use a small amount of baby oil to remove any dirt or stains from your chrome plating that weren't removed. You can also use white vinegar to remove hard water stains.
Apply chrome polish to another rag. There are different varieties of chrome polish, including liquid and cream-based polishes. The experts at Auto Media further separate chrome polish into abrasive and non-abrasive varieties. If you're unsure what kind to use on your restoration project, select a non-abrasive polish. This kind is less likely to scratch the chrome plating, leading to further damage.
Remove heavy rust by applying chrome polish with steel wool. This step may not be necessary if earlier steps solved the problem. Scrub as hard as necessary to remove the rust. An alternative to chrome polish and steel wool for this step is sandpaper.
Apply a layer of primer and chrome paint to the damaged area to achieve the look of chrome plating.
You can also add a new layer of chrome plating by electroplating the entire surface. This is an industrial-level process best left to the professionals, as it requires large amounts of acidic chemicals and high temperatures to work properly. Failure to execute the electroplating process correctly can damage or destroy the object you wanted to chrome.
Always use eye and hand protection when working with chrome polish.