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Will Stainless Steel Get Rust?

Will Stainless Steel Get Rust?


Stainless—in spite of the promise of its name—is not immune to staining. Smudges, fingerprints, and water spots are inevitable. Unfortunately, rust can be, too. Don’t fret. Rust is treatable. And the right maintenance habits can minimize the chance of rust developing in the first place.

How Is That Even Possible?

Stainless, an iron alloy that contains chromium, might include other elements, such as nickel. The chromium in stainless helps form an invisible layer on the surface that prevents moisture from reaching the iron. If this layer is breached or degraded to the point where moisture reaches the underlying steel, rust will occur. 

What causes that layer to degrade? The wrong cleaning products, for one.

Cleaners with high amounts of bleach can cause corrosion, especially in crevices where cleaner can become trapped and remain in contact with the stainless for a long period of time, such as steel pads or steel brushes, can also damage the surface.

Is Some Stainless More Rust-Resistant?

Nonmagnetic stainless steel grades (such as 304, which contains nickel) tend to be more rust-resistant than magnetic stainless steel grades (such as 430).

Preventing Rust Spots on Stainless

Do wash stainless with mild soap, using a soft, clean cloth; then rinse. Dry with a soft, clean cloth.  

Don’t use disinfectants, abrasives, or cleaners that contain bleach, alcohol, ammonia, or chlorides, all of which can harm stainless. 

Don’t use steel wool or scrub pads. They can scratch the surface, leaving it vulnerable to moisture. Also, fragments of steel wool can become embedded in the stainless finish and rust.

How to Remove Rust Spots

You can make a paste of baking soda and water, and apply it with a soft cloth, rubbing gently in the direction of the grain. Once you’ve removed the rust, rinse with clean water and a soft cloth, then dry.