How to remove rust from kitchen knives


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how to get rust off stainless steel

Are you finding rust in your kitchen knives? If you are, you might be wondering if there’s something you can do about it. Instead of throwing them out and buying new ones, why don’t you try a few tricks before rendering them useless?

This article will show you six methods to remove rust from kitchen knives.

Why Do Kitchen Knives Rust?

Before we begin our list of 6 methods to remove rust from kitchen knives, let’s first discuss why they rust in the first place.

Rust is also known as iron oxide. It’s an orangey and flaky substance growing on metal, and it’s not only unsightly, but it’s dangerous and can even make your knives useless.

The ingredients to rust are iron (metal), water, and air. Rust will soon develop when your knives are constantly exposed to water and air.

Unless your knives are made of ceramic or titanium (which are free of iron), chances are, your blades will rust when exposed to these elements over time.

Aside from these two materials, knives are usually made of stainless steel or carbon. Carbon is made of iron and a small percentage of carbon, and these kinds of knives are the most susceptible to rust. On the other hand, stainless steel is made of iron, carbon, chromium, and other materials.

Though there’s iron in stainless steel, the chromium covers the element and protects it from being oxidized by air. Therefore, you can expect them to rust easily if you’re using carbon knives. Though stainless steel is rust-resistant, it is not rust-proof. Over time, the chromium in stainless steel knives will disappear, exposing the iron to the elements, eventually causing rust in the blade.

6 Methods to Remove Rust From Kitchen Knives

If the rust in your knives is small, mild, and they haven’t taken over the whole metal, there are simple ways to remove it.

These are natural methods of removing rust, and most of them can even be found in your kitchen.

Here are six ways to remove rust from kitchen knives:

1. White Vinegar

Is there anything white vinegar can’t clean? White vinegar contains acetic acid, which attacks rust, so it’s one of the most effective methods to clean kitchen knives.

Wash your knife with regular dish soap and water to remove dirt or impurities. Wipe and make sure it’s completely dry. Prepare white vinegar in a container and thoroughly soak your rusted knife. Make sure all of the rusted areas are soaked in vinegar.

Soak your knife for 5 minutes. After removing the blade, wash it off again with water, and dry with a cloth.

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda is ideal for light rust stains or thin metal. Mix baking soda with water to make a thick paste. Spread this paste over the rusted spots, ensuring they’re completely covered. Let it sit for about an hour.

Using a toothbrush, scrub away at the rusted areas. If the rust is severe, you can use steel wool or an abrasive sponge to scour away the rust.

Wash off the paste with water and wipe dry with a cloth.

3. Lemon and Salt

A lemon and salt duo is a simple way to remove mild rust from kitchen knives. The lemon’s acidity and the salt’s abrasiveness are a great combination to remove rust from metal.

Cover the knife with salt. Slice a piece of lemon and squeeze some juice over the salt, making sure it seeps into the rusted spots.

Let it sit for 2 hours. Once the time is up, use a lemon rind to scrub the rusted spots. Rinse off with water and wipe dry.

If there’s still some rust, repeat the process, and instead of lemon rind, use steel wool or an abrasive wire brush to scour away the rust.

4. Potato

Potatoes have oxalic acid that can help remove rust from metal. For this method, prepare a potato that’s large enough to stick your knife into. Stick your knife into the potato, ensuring all rusted spots are covered. Leave it inside the potato for at least 5 hours.

Remove the knife from the potato and wipe down the metal with any oil.

5. Citric Acid

Citric acid can be purchased at any health food store or baking aisle of a supermarket. Citric acid is a little harsh, so you need to dilute it with water.

Add three tablespoons of citric acid to a bowl of hot water. Submerge the knife in the solution overnight. The next day, remove the blade from the solution and scrub off the rust from the metal.

6. Onion

Did you know that the substance in onions that makes you cry can also remove rust in knives? Yes, this substance is called sulfenic acid, and it’s a simple and effective way to remove iron oxide. Slide the blade back and forth when cutting an onion, and it can help remove mild rust on your knives.

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How to Prevent Rust On Kitchen Knives

Removing rust may be simple and easy with things you can find in your kitchen, but it’s also essential to know how to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Here are some tips on preventing rust before it even starts:

  • Water is the number one enemy of knives, so make sure you completely dry your knives before storing them.
  • Never wash your knives in a dishwasher because the heat will cause the metal to expand and contract. When this happens, stress points will develop in your blades and become susceptible to rust.
  • Store your knives in a dry place with low humidity. Remember that moisture is the culprit in your knives’ rusting, and it doesn’t even have to be water. Rust can also develop if there is a lot of moisture in the air.
  • Apply mineral oil on your knives to add a protective layer from rust. Keeping your blades lubricated with mineral oil like camellia oil can help protect your knife from oxidizing.

Consider: Misen Knife and Cookware


Rust in kitchen knives isn’t just ugly, but it can be dangerous as iron and other elements can add impurities to your food preparation. And if not treated, rust can make knives useless.

At the first signs of iron oxide, it would be ideal to immediately stop it from its tracks. You can use white vinegar, baking soda, lemon and salt, and even onion and potatoes to remove rust from your knives.

Remember that the enemy of metal is water, so always make sure your knives are completely dry before storing them in a dry place.

Just because your knives are rusting doesn’t mean you need to throw them away immediately. Try any of these six methods, and if all else fails, then it’s time to retire them and purchase new ones.

Related: How to safely dispose kitchen knives

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