Chrome is commonly used to provide a shiny or protective layer to other metals. The metal under the chrome is usually the cause of the rust. It is surprisingly easy to remove this rust using household products and a little effort, but the chrome may need to be repaired afterwards if the rust is over a large area and much of the chrome has flaked off the metal.
Method 1 of 4: Removing rust with aluminum foil
Step 1. Use aluminum foil
This is an easy and inexpensive way to remove rust from chrome. When aluminum and rust come into contact, a chemical reaction occurs. The material can therefore be easily wiped or scraped off. Aluminum is softer than most metals, so it will not scratch the chrome itself or the metal underneath.
Step 2. Clean the chrome
Before attempting to remove the rust from the chrome, use soapy water to remove dirt and grime from the metal. You can also use car detergent when cleaning painted car parts. This makes it easier to see and remove the rusty spots.
If the surface is very dirty or rusty, use vinegar or one of the other mild acids described below. Then use aluminum foil
Step 3. Dip the aluminum foil in water
It doesn't matter what kind of water you use, but salt water is best because the electrolytes and salt help speed up the chemical process. Tear off strips of foil so they are the right size for easy use on the rusted area.
Step 4. Rub the aluminum foil over the rust spots
Rub the aluminum foil back and forth over the rust spots. You don't need to apply much pressure, although heavily corroded areas may require a little more effort and a little longer rubbing.
- Dip the aluminum foil in water again when it dries.
- When working on a heavily eroded surface, you can try to make a plug of the aluminum foil. The resulting edges help smooth the metal and work out the rusted, dented areas.
Step 5. Stop every now and then to remove the rest of the rust
When a thick layer of removed rust has formed, stop and wipe the residue off with a rag or cloth. That way you can see where you still need to remove rust and rework it with the aluminum foil.
Step 6. Rinse off the chrome
When you've removed all the rust, wipe the surface with a rag to reveal the shiny metal underneath.
Step 7. Dry the chrome completely
Water spots are very easy to see on chrome, and this can also cause the metal underneath to rust. Use a paper towel or a hair dryer to dry the surface. You can read the section below about repairing damage and preventing new rust if you need to.
Don't forget to apply a coat of chrome polish or wax to the cleaned chrome to prevent further rust from forming
Method 2 of 4: Removing rust with a mild acid
Step 1. Use cola, lime juice or other mild household acids
Cola or soda containing phosphoric acid can be used to remove rust. You can also use lime juice or vinegar. These mild acids can remove the rust without damaging the surrounding metal.
- Diet Coke contains no sugar and will therefore stick less during cleaning. However, the sugar helps the acid adhere to the rust.
- Avoid strong or concentrated acids as they can bite into the underlying metal and weaken it. If these household acids fail, try again with phosphoric acid. However, turn on a fan to blow the harmful fumes away from your face.
Step 2. Clean the chrome
Before you try to remove the rust from the chrome, it is best to remove all dirt and grime from the metal. This makes it easier to see and remove the rusty spots. Use a car wash detergent to clean painted surfaces on cars and regular soapy water for other chrome items.
Step 3. Soak or pour the chromium in the acid
Ideally, soak the object in acid for 15 minutes before removing the rust. If you can't soak the item, simply pour the mild acid over the surface.
Step 4. Wipe or scrape away the rust
You may need to use a rough sponge or a soft dishwashing sponge to remove the dissolved rust. With a dishwashing sponge that is intended for use on glass dishes and bowls, you are less likely to scratch the chrome. To remove large rust spots, gently rub with strips of aluminum foil or scrub with a scouring pad.
Step 5. Remove the residue with a safe soap
When you clean a car, use a car wash to remove the rust and acid residue. You cannot use dishwashing liquid on car paint because it can remove the paint. Unpainted surfaces can be cleaned with water and regular soap.
Step 6. Dry and care for your car
Remove moisture with paper towels to reduce the chance of new rust. If the rust has caused visible damage, skip to the section on repairing damage and preventing new rust.
Apply a coat of chrome polish or wax to the cleaned chrome to prevent further rust
Method 3 of 4: Remove rust with penetrating oil or chrome polish
Step 1. Use chrome polish to remove the rust as quickly as possible, or penetrating oil to save money
Chrome polish is the most expensive method of removal, but with a quality product you can remove the rust quickly and easily. You can also use a light penetrating oil such as WD-40 or CRC instead, which are usually cheaper.
Step 2. Clean the chrome with soapy water
Before you try to remove the rust from the chrome, it is best to remove all dirt and grime from the metal. This makes it easier to see and remove the rusty spots.
If the dirt is very difficult to remove, you can also use vinegar to clean the chrome. Vinegar is a mild acid that also helps remove the rust
Step 3. Apply penetrating oil or chrome polish to the rusted area
Spread it over the rusted area of the chrome, making sure to cover it completely to avoid scratching the surface.
Step 4. Apply penetrating oil or chrome polish to copper wool or fine steel wool
Soft copper wool or a copper brush is most suitable for this, because it makes large scratches less quickly. If you can't find copper wool, use the finest steel wool you can get, preferably with a coarseness of 0000. Applying extra chrome polish to the steel wool will help prevent scratches.
Step 5. Gently rub the wool over the rusted spot
Gently rub the rust in circular motions, making sure to keep the surface damp. Do not apply pressure while rubbing, or you will damage the surface.
Apply more oil or chrome polish if the area becomes dry. Rubbing dry chrome with steel or copper wool will scratch and damage the surface
Step 6. Rinse the spot with clean water
Rinse away the chrome polish and the removed rust with water.
Step 7. Check for more rust spots
If there are additional rust spots on the chrome, use more chrome polish to try to remove the spots using the same method.
Step 8. Dry the chrome completely
Water spots are very easy to see on chrome, so it's best to dry it completely to give it a nice shine.
- Don't forget to apply a coat of chrome polish or wax to the cleaned chrome to prevent further rust from forming.
- For additional maintenance, you can view the steps below.
Method 4 of 4: Restore and protect chrome after removing rust
Step 1. Polish and dry the surface
If there were only small rust spots on the chrome, drying the surface with a towel may be enough to keep the chrome looking nice.
Step 2. Protect the metal with chrome polish or wax
Apply wax or chrome polish to the chrome to protect it from further damage. Use a product specifically for chrome, such as car wax for chrome car parts.
You usually have to apply the wax, rub it in and let it dry. Then a second coat is applied and rubbed in
Step 3. Apply silver paint
This keeps the chrome nice and shiny, but how well the chrome is protected against rust depends on the brand of paint you use and how well you apply it. Choose paint that is suitable for this job, preferably automotive paint, and apply it as evenly as possible to areas affected by rust. Use very fine sandpaper (1200 grit) to sand it smooth after it dries. Be careful not to sand unpainted areas.
Step 4. Have the object re-chromed
This is expensive and is usually only done on cars that are heavily damaged by rust. Only have this done by a company with a lot of experience in the field of chrome plating. You can also try to chrome objects at home, if you want to learn that. Relatively small objects are especially suitable for this.
- Materials are usually chrome-plated to protect them from rust. When rust develops, it is usually because the chrome has peeled off in places. As a result, the underlying iron or steel is exposed to the environment and rust can occur. In severe cases, the rust can spread to surrounding areas and cause bumps under the chrome layer.
- Rust will come back quickly if the surface gets wet, so be sure to dry the surface well when you get it wet. Apply a coat of chrome polish to the surface just after it dries. This prevents rust from developing again.
- On some cars, instead of chrome, plastic or paint is used to imitate chrome. The above methods work on the rust itself and not on the chrome, and it is unknown what effect they will have if your car is treated with an unknown substance.
- Sandblasting or grinding is not recommended, as this can easily damage the underlying metal.