What Causes Rust on Flatware?


Stainless steel is not as stain-proof as people like to believe. Corrosion can quickly develop due to acidic foods, strong detergents, prolonged soaking or hot temperatures. However, rust can be prevented by selecting the right flatware and properly caring for it, giving utensils a reflective sheen and an extended lifetime.


  • The acid found in citrus or lemon scented detergents eat away at the surface of stainless steel flatware, causing rust and stains to appear. Purchase a detergent that is not highly chlorinated to reduce corrosion, and don’t leave dishes in water overnight. Excessive submersion increases the chance of rusting. Be careful when loading the dishwasher. Splashing or dripping detergent directly onto flatware can also cause rust.


  • Stainless steel is composed of a combination of nickel, chromium and steel; you can see the amounts of each metal on the back of the box. Flatware with 18/8 or 18/10 are premium versions of stainless steel flatware. Here, the first number refers to the chromium content; the second number refers to the nickel content. Chromium adds rust resistance to flatware, and nickel gives flatware its shine.


  • Vinegar, mayonnaise, coffee, citric juices, pickles and mustard can cause pitting and rusting to flatware when left for long periods of time. Minerals found in tap water can also cause flatware to rust. Prevent corrosion by not leaving flatware in contact with these items for extended periods of time.


  • Properly wash flatware to prevent rusting. When loading the dishwasher, group the knives together. Put them each facing downward in the dishwasher basket. This prevents the blades from scratching other flatware and keeps different alloys from rubbing against each other at high temperatures. Remove flatware at the last stage of the rinse cycle and dry them with a soft cloth; the hot air of the dishwasher can promote corrosion. For extra shine, use a stainless steel cleaner.

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  • Photo Credit spoons, plugs and knifes image by terex from Fotolia.com lemon image by AGphotographer from Fotolia.com a steel fork image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com coffee in coffee image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com soft towels image by Kathy Burns from Fotolia.com
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