How to remove rust & oxidation from stainless steel

Updated February 21, 2017

Stainless steel is protected from corrosion by a layer of chromium oxide which comes from the chromium in the steel and oxygen from the environment. A minimum of 10.5 per cent chromium is mixed into the steel along with other compounds that improve the characteristics of steel and reduce corrosion. Oxidation is a natural process and rust is the result of consistent moisture. Both can lead to pitting in the surface of the stainless steel. You can purchase stainless steel polish which will buff off the marks on the metal. Clean stainless steel regularly to help it keep its enhanced capabilities.

Wash the stainless steel item in warm soapy water if possible. Rinse it and dry it thoroughly to remove grease and grime.

Apply enough drops of mineral oil to the steel wool to moisten it. Scrub the stainless steel in the direction of the buff marks to prevent making further disfiguring scars. Rub gently until the oxidation and rust are removed. Wash and dry the item after the stains are gone.

Add just enough water to baking soda to make a paste. Use a soft towel to rub the paste into the steel and buff off the oxidation. Rust takes more scrubbing to fade. Wash the item with mild soap and water and rinse. Then dry it with a towel and allow it to further air dry before putting it away or covering the steel with anything.

Put on rubber gloves to protect your skin. Moisten a rag with white spirit or acetone. Use a swift circular motion on the stainless steel to rub off the oxidation or rust marks. Wash the item in soap and water and dry with a towel.

Cover a sponge with a stainless steel cleaner. The cleaner comes in a paste or liquid. Rub the steel with the sponge in a circular rubbing pattern. The cleaner buffs off the stains that accumulate on stainless steel and brightens the metal. Wash it off with warm soapy water, followed by a fresh water rinse. Dry the steel completely with a towel.


Stainless steel must be dried completely after each use and stored in a clean dry environment to prevent rust. Mineral oil is safe to use on items that contact food, such as knives.


Use white spirit or acetone outdoors or in a well ventilated area, as they both have strong fumes.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Towel
  • Mineral oil
  • Steel wool
  • Soft rag
  • Baking soda
  • Rubber gloves
  • White spirit or acetone
  • Stainless steel cleaner
  • Small sponge
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Bonnie Grant began writing professionally in 1990. She has been published on various websites, specializing in garden-related instructional articles. Grant recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management with a hospitality focus from South Seattle Community College.