Manufacturers add chrome plating to their products to give them a mirror-like finish that says delivers a high-class appearance.
Aside from its good looks, chrome also protects the underlying metal from corrosion. That’s why you find chrome on faucets, appliances, tools, outdoor power equipment, and your car. But chrome can fail if it’s poorly applied, too thin, or scratched from repeated cleaning with abrasive cleansers.
Once chrome cracks, peels, or develops pinholes, it loses those protective abilities, and you wind up with rust and corrosion “blooms” that rise to the surface.
In our guide, you can learn all there is about how to clean rust off chrome. By the end, you’ll see how a handful of household objects, clean cloth, and a bit more elbow grease can be removing rust and have your chrome looking as good as new. (Learn How To Remove Graffiti From Concrete)
What Is The Best Rust Remover For Chrome?
Chrome plating of high quality is costly. To save money, some manufacturers employ a lower-cost chrome paint that looks like the real thing.
All the treatments here can include brass wool, steel wool, and the aluminum foil method; however, if used incorrectly, they can damage the surface even more and expose other metals to the air, aggravating corrosion and leading to future rust spots.
If you are unsure whether you have real chrome or chrome paint, test a small area with foil, brass, or steel wool to see if it scratches the finish.
If it does, use a rag and a mild-acid or rust penetrant rust remover.
1. Aluminum Foil Method
For a quick and low-cost way to remove rust from chrome, you can use aluminum foil.
Rust combines chemically with aluminum, resulting in a substance that is easily wiped away. You’ll discover that compared to other metals, aluminum is far softer and won’t harm the chrome’s surface or metal underneath the severely pitted surface.
Cleaning chrome is a must before you begin, so ensure you wash away any debris from the metal with soapy water or car wash soap on painted car parts. (Learn How To Remove Gorilla Glue From Skin)
- If you have any heavily rusted areas, use vinegar or mild acid to cover all the rust with foil.
- Aluminum foil dipped in saltwater works best, as the electrolytes and salts help speed up the chemical reaction.
- Cover your rust spots with aluminum foil, and then, on the area you are working, rub the rust spots with aluminum foil in a circular motion. Stuck on rust may take more effort and longer to melt the rust chemically, yet it doesn’t require too much pressure to deal with rusted chrome.
- If you find your aluminum foil and rusty chrome surface becomes dry, re-dip it in water as you clean the rust stains from the shiny metal.
- If you have a chrome bumper or other large chrome surface, you can wad up your aluminum foil to help with your homemade rust remover and any pitted or remaining rust spots.
- Following all the rust removal tips, if the rust residue gets too thick, you are best to wipe it away using a rag or towel.
- Rinse your chrome’s surface once all the rust has been removed, and then wipe the surface with a rag to reveal your gleaming metal finish.
- Dry your chrome, as water spots can be seen easily on chrome surfaces. To dry correctly, use a paper towel.
- Use a commercial chrome polish or synthetic polymer car wax on your chrome bumper to add a shiny or protective coating and prevent future rust spots.
2. Removing Rust With Oil or Chrome Polish
- Use chrome polish for the quickest removal, yet it can be the most expensive way to clean rust from surfaces.
- Clean your chrome with a degreasing dish soap and water to remove dirt and other debris.
- Apply your oil or chrome metal polish to the rusted area.
- Apply oil or chrome polish to brass wool or fine steel wool. Soft brass wool can be the best since it is less likely to cause scratches. If you can’t find brass wool, use fine steel wool.
- Use light elbow grease and rub in a circular motion over the rusted area, and make sure the area is moist at all times. Rubbing dry chrome with metal wool can lead to scratches and damage the surface.
- Rinse the area with clean water to get rid of the metal polish and check if any rust remains.
- Dry thoroughly to avoid water spots, and then add a coat of car wax to protect the soft metal or silver paint and polish with a clean cloth.
Does Vinegar Remove Rust From Chrome?
There are many ways to remove rust from chrome, yet one of the most effective is using white vinegar, or you can use one of the other acids shown here.
When you use coke, lime juice, or any other mild household acids that contain carbonic acid, it causes a chemical reaction with the iron oxide to break down the rust.
Acids in lime juice and vinegar help remove rust without too much risk to the surrounding metal.
Ensure you avoid strong or concentrated acids. Using these will etch and weaken the underlying metal and your chrome finish. If you use phosphoric acid, be sure to use this in a well-ventilated area because of the fumes. (Learn How To Remove Glue From Clothes)
Before using any acid, use a car wash soap to clean painted surfaces on cars and regular soapy water for other chrome objects.
- Soak or cover your chrome with the acid for around 15 minutes. Pour over the surface if you can’t soak the object in the mild acid.
- To clear the surface dirt and loose surface rust, you may need a rough sponge to wipe away the dissolved rust. Pick a scrubber that is made for use on the glass as this won’t scratch your chrome.
- Wash off the residue with mild dish soap or car wash soap to remove the rust and acid residue.
- Dry the surface with a paper towel to remove moisture, and then apply a coat of polish or wax and buff with a soft cloth to prevent rust from forming.
Does WD-40 Remove Rust Chrome?
WD-40 Specialist Rust Remover Soak can dissolve rust and restore tools, equipment, or surfaces back to bare metal without chipping, scraping, or scrubbing according to the company website.
Removes rust from tools, metal, cast iron, chrome surfaces, and more without damaging paint, gaskets, trim, or nearby parts.
This rust-removal formula emits no hazardous fumes, contains no acids or caustic chemicals, is non-irritating to the skin, and may be used in a wide range of metals. Leave pieces in the solution for 1-3 hours to remove minor rust. Leave pieces in the rust removal solution overnight to remove heavy rust.
If you apply this product, it will remove the protective coatings on items with bluing, browning, or protective oxide paints.
You may be familiar with WD-40 as a lubricant for your squeaky garage door, but WD-40 Specialist Rust Release Penetrant Spray is a rust-penetrating chemical.
To dissolve rust, spray it immediately on your bathroom fixtures, then scrape it with a toothbrush or fine metal wool. This is a fantastic option if your rust is minor and in difficult-to-reach areas, at which WD-40’s distinctive straw sprayer excels at.
Does Coca-Cola Take Rust Off Of Chrome?
Coca-Cola is carbonated and a great way how to get rust off chrome and dissolve metal oxides on a wide range of metals and alloys as it acts as a mild acid.
Its rust-busting ability is aided by phosphoric acid, while its stain-removing ability is aided by citric acid. Coca-Cola has less phosphoric acid than conventional rust removers; thus, it takes longer to work, yet it can cause minor damage if you have never done it before.
Remove Rust With Coca-Cola: Step-by-Step
- Make sure your Coke is a little flat so it doesn’t start fizzing right away.
- Gently rub with a sponge or aluminum foil and work the Coca-Cola into the rusty surfaces. Although the sponge is gentler on your chrome surface, the aluminum foil is more effective at removing rust from chrome and requires less effort.
- To make the foil sturdier, fold it into 3 to 4 layers.
- Apply your Coca-Cola on the rust spot and scrub gently with the foil.
- Rust peels off in pieces, and as you carefully remove the rust, you can then use the sponge.
- Repeat the procedure till the area is rust-free.
- To remove the particles, clean the area with soap and water once you’ve got the desired results.
- Once cleaned, you can use a good quality chrome polish to keep it shiny and protected.