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How to Clean Rusty Cookware Naturally

Are you f-rust-rated (sorry, had to) by rusty cookware? Not only is cookware covered in rust unsightly, but it can change the flavour of your food, and pose a potential risk to your health. But, not to worry, there are plenty of ways to rid your cookware of rust—naturally.

Why Does Cookware Rust?

Basically, rust is formed by a reaction known as oxidation. In the context of cookware, oxidation occurs when iron, water, and oxygen are combined. Most cookware contains an amount of iron—some more than others, and almost all cookware gets wet at one point or another. Cookware containing iron + oxygen from the air + water from your sink or dishwasher = rust. The (not so) magic recipe.

How to Remove Rust Naturally

As soon as your cookware begins to rust, it’s a good idea to address the problem head-on. Consuming food from rusty cookware can be hazardous. Also, rust doesn’t taste very nice (no surprise there). So, unless you want to ruin your next meal, don’t risk it.

Luckily, there are a few fuss-free, natural ways to remove rust on cookware.

Our first rust-removing method is a little unconventional. Grab a potato (yes, a potato) and cut it in half. Dip the raw side of the potato in dish soap and give your pan a good scrub. With any luck, the rust spots should start to disappear. If the rust won’t budge, dip the raw edge of the potato in salt to add some scouring power.

If you don’t have a potato handy, try this. Take some white vinegar or lemon juice and coat the rust spots, leaving them to soak for around 10 minutes. For non-stick pans, dilute the lemon juice or vinegar with one part water, to avoid damaging the coating. Then, use a non-scratch scourer to give the rust a run for its money.

For a non-acidic option, you could also try baking soda. Make a paste with one part water and one part baking soda and apply to the rust spots. Leave the paste for at least an hour, then scrub away. Voila! No more rust.

How to Prevent Rust

So, you’ve got the rust under control for now, but how do you stop your cookware from rusting again? If your cookware is cast-iron, make sure it’s properly seasoned before use. And continue to season it when necessary.

To prevent rust on stainless steel cookware, avoid air-drying. Most of the time, rust will occur due to lengthy exposure to moisture. So, air-drying your pots and pans after washing can accelerate the reactive process. Instead, towel dry your cookware to stop oxidation in its tracks.

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