How to Get Rust Off Kitchen Knives

Over time kitchen knives gather rust due to excessive exposure to moisture. This occurs much faster when you don’t take adequate care of this piece of cutlery.

That said, a rusty knife can still be brought back to new with a thorough cleaning. This comprehensive guide will go over several ways how you can get the rust off kitchen knives.

Various Methods on How to Get Rust Off Kitchen Knives

All of the cleaning methods discussed in this article use common household items. Therefore, you won’t have to spend extra money or time purchasing equipment.

Before you try any method, make sure to examine your kitchen knife. Try to look at all of the spots that are rusty.

If there are some heavily rusted spots, make a mental note of that. This way, you’ll know what parts to put more effort into cleaning.

Moreover, you should try wiping it thoroughly with a cloth to check if the rust comes off. In some cases, you can remove rust with just a bit of elbow grease. If not, try these cleaning methods and materials.

Removing Rust on Kitchen Knives with White Vinegar

One of the most effective cleaning materials is white vinegar. The materials you’ll need for this process include:

  • White vinegar
  • A scrub sponge or steel wool
  • A tall cup or large bucket (should have enough space to let the knife submerge)

Step 1. Fill the Cup or Bucket with White Vinegar

Fill the cup or bucket with white vinegar. Make sure that there’s enough for the entire knife to be submerged. However, you do not need to submerge the knife handle if it’s not metal.

Also, you can clean more than one knife at once. You should make sure that the bucket or cup has enough room for all your knives.

Step 2. Submerge the Knife in the Vinegar

Place your kitchen knife (or knives) in the white vinegar so that it’s properly submerged. Let the kitchen knives sit in the vinegar for some time.

Typically, five minutes in white vinegar should be enough. However, some very rusty knives may need to be submerged for more time. You could also consider leaving it overnight.

Also read: How to Get Rust off Cast Iron Skillet with Vinegar

Step 3. Scrub the Rusty Knife

Remove the rusty knife from the white vinegar bath. Use your scrub sponge or steel wool to begin scrubbing it. You may have to scrub hard on some rusty areas of the knife.

Be careful when scrubbing the point and the sharp edge of the knife. While you should apply enough pressure, make sure that your hands are not in a compromised position.

Wipe off some of the rust with a paper towel and resume scrubbing. Doing so will allow you to determine how much rust is still present on the knife.

During scrubbing, the knife may start to get dry. In that case, dip it in the vinegar. After that, resume scrubbing it.

If you’re struggling to remove some rust, then soak the knife for an additional five minutes. Repeat the scrubbing process after that.

Step 4. Clean the Knife with Dish Soap

After there are no traces of rust on the knife, you’ll need to clean it with dish soap and water. This way, you’ll remove the vinegar from the knife.

Next, use a paper towel or cloth to dry the knife thoroughly. Leaving traces of water will cause the knife to gather rust quickly.

Removing Rust on Kitchen Knives with Baking Soda

Baking soda is great for knives made of thin metal and with light rust stains. You will require the same scrubbing materials as the cleaning method above.

However, you won’t need a cup or bucket. Instead, you’ll need a small container and baking soda instead of vinegar.

Here are the steps you must follow.

Step 1. Create the Baking Soda Cleaning Solution

Mix water and baking soda in a small container.

The mixture will start to become like a paste.

Step 2. Apply the Baking Soda to the Rusty Knife

You can use a butter knife or a brush to apply the baking soda paste to the rusty knife. Apply the paste liberally so that all of the rusty bits are covered nicely.

This way, you’ll have to put in less effort to remove the rust.

Next, keep the rusty knife aside for an hour or more. This will give the baking soda enough time to react with the rust.

Step 3. Scrub the Rusty Knife

It’s best that you use steel wool to scrub the knife.

You can also use a wire brush for this process.

Step 4. Rinse the Knife

Examine the knife for any rusty bits that are still left behind. When the metal is clean, rinse it in water to remove the baking soda paste.

Next, dry it completely before storing it.

Removing Rust on Kitchen Knives with a Salted Potato and Dish Soap

Potatoes contain oxalic acid—a vital ingredient in most cleaning products. So, the acid will dissolve the rust.

That said, use this method on knives that don’t have much detailing. The oxalic acid may ruin the look of the details.

Step 1. Prepare the Potato

Cut a raw potato in half.  Next, cover the exposed side with dish soap. You can then either sprinkle a bit of salt or baking soda on that part of the potato.

The purpose of the salt or baking soda is to provide an abrasive texture. This will help with scouring the rusty knife.

Step 2. Use the Potato to Scrub the Rusty Knife

Hold the potato in one hand with its exterior in your palm. Press the exposed side onto the rusty knife and begin scrubbing.

It may be a little challenging to hold the potato than a scrub sponge. So, place the knife on the kitchen counter or cutting board while you scrub it. Hold the knife’s handle to keep it in control.

Be careful when scrubbing the sharp edges of the rusty knife. You don’t want to accidentally cut the potato and remove the part with the dish soap in the process.

Step 3. Rinse the Knife

Finish the process by rinsing the knife and drying it.

Removing Rust on Kitchen Knives with Lemon and Salt

The lemon contains citric acid, which will help remove rust.

On the other hand, salt will provide an abrasive texture to scour the blade.

Step 1. Prep the Rusted Knife

Sprinkle the rusted knife with salt. Make sure the rusted areas get a generous coat of salt.

After that, squeeze lemon juice over the knife. Leave the knife with the lemon and salt for about two hours.

Step 2. Scrub the Knife with the Lemon Rind

Scrub your rusted knife with the lemon rind.

Make sure to apply enough pressure to get rid of the rust. If some bits of rust are more stubborn, scrub it with steel wool instead.

Step 3. Rinse the Knife

Finish by rinsing the knife with water.

You can use dish soap to get rid of any traces of lemon. Dry the knife and store it.  

Tips on Preventing Rust from Gathering on Your Kitchen Knife

Water is the biggest cause of rust on your kitchen knives.

That is why you should try to limit its exposure to water as much as possible. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Wash and Dry Your Knives Immediately After Using Them

You should wash your kitchen knives immediately after you use them. After that, dry them properly.

You’ll speed up rust formation even if you leave the knives damp. This tip can work with other metal utensils too.

Don’t Put Your Kitchen Knives in the Dishwasher

Dishwashers take time to clean kitchen utensils. Therefore, they are exposed to water for a long period every day.

So, wash your kitchen knives by hand instead of the dishwasher.

Don’t Leave Kitchen Knives in the Sink

Make it a habit not to leave kitchen knives and other metal utensils in the sink. Wash and dry them right after use.

Apply Mineral Oil to Your Kitchen Knives

You can apply a protective coating of mineral oil to your kitchen knives about 2 or 3 times every year. This oil can help slow down rust formation.

Use a soft cloth to apply the oil, and make sure to cover the joints too. Don’t apply WD-40 or paste wax on your kitchen knives.

Store Kitchen Knives in a Low Humidity Area

Exposure to a lot of humidity can also increase the pace of rust formation. So, keep your kitchen knives in a place away from a water source.

Also, try to keep knives in a closed container if you can’t control the humidity.

Last Few Words

While this guide specifically focused on knives, you can use these cleaning materials on other metal utensils as well. All metal utensils will begin to gather rust.

So, you must take consistent care to keep them in good condition. If you leave rust untreated, it will eventually damage the knife.

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I’m Jueria and I am a regular contributor on In my articles, I share time-saving techniques, appliance wizardry, and health-friendly recipes to bring taste and wellness to your table. So raise a glass (or a spatula) with me, to good health and good food, made easy!