How to clean chrome and remove rust and tarnish

Do you want to learn how to clean oxidised chrome surfaces? We’ve got you covered! Check out our easy chrome cleaning tips.

Updated 4 October 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time7 minutes

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Figuring out how to clean chrome is one of the most useful cleaning skills to have in your toolbox. After all, because chrome is everywhere – from kitchen pans to bathroom taps and even car bumpers and wheel rims.

Chrome is generally not too high maintenance, but it does tend to lose its sparkle quite quickly. Moreover, because it’s a soft metal, it’s prone to scratches and even rust or tarnish. This means it’s important to understand the best way to clean and maintain chrome to keep it looking its best.

You will need:

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  • How to clean chrome

    1. 1

      Wipe down the surface

      Remove any loose dirt or dust by wiping down your chrome surface with a cloth or rag.

      image of a cloth
    2. 2

      Create a cleaning solution

      Fill your sink two thirds of the way with warm water and add a few squirts of washing up liquid, until you have a nice bubbly mixture.

    3. 3

      Wash the chrome

      Soak part of the sponge or cloth in your cleaning solution and apply it directly to the chrome. Rub it in smooth, circular movements while removing as much surface dirt as possible.

      Smaller chrome objects, like pans or kitchen utensils, can be submerged directly in the cleaning mixture – just be sure to rinse them well afterwards.

      washing chrome
    4. 4

      Dry immediately

      To cut down on streaks, marks and water spots, dry areas as soon as you clean them with a soft cloth or some kitchen roll.

      Tip: Contrary to popular belief, chrome doesn’t need any specialist cleaning products. Regular soap and water will do the job, although it can lead to watermarks or leave soap residue. So, household cleaning products like Cif kitchen spray are often recommended. These products remove soap scum effortlessly, giving you brighter, shinier chrome accents in your kitchen and bathroom.

3 natural chrome cleaning solutions

Hit up your kitchen cupboard for some simple, effective and all-natural chrome cleaning supplies.

Lemon juice

Lemon is a brilliant way to brighten up chrome fixtures and fittings. Besides, it has antibacterial properties, making it an ideal disinfectant for surfaces.[1] Simply use the fleshy half to scrub the surfaces of your taps and fixtures. If you live in a hard water area, let the lemon juice sit for a few minutes to work its magic. Then, rinse with warm water and use a soft cloth to wipe away any residue or pith.

Easy, right? We’ve got lots more brilliant tips for cleaning with lemon.


If you’re looking to shift stubborn stains, discolouration or even rust, vinegar is a great solution. Just mix one part water with one part white vinegar. However, don’t over dilute the vinegar as it will lose its potency. Apply with a cloth or sponge.

Noticed some rust on your taps? Use a spray bottle to apply a strong vinegar mixture directly onto the affected area. Leave it to sit for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing it with a soft sponge and rinsing in warm water. The acetic acid in the vinegar will help break down the rust.[2]

Baking soda

Are there a lot of grime build up or you have tricky, hard-to-reach areas in need of cleaning? It might be time to bust out the baking soda, which is so good at removing stubborn stains.

Mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a little bit of water until you have a paste. Spread this directly on to your fixtures. (use a toothbrush to apply the paste to any nooks and crannies).

Don’t be afraid to apply some firm pressure to work the mix in. Then, rinse with warm water and dry immediately.

Impressed? We’ve got lots of other great ideas for cleaning with baking soda around the house.


Cleaning chrome with coke is a simple and effective method. Here are the steps: 

  1. 1

    Start by pouring some cola onto a clean cloth or sponge. 

  2. 2

    Gently rub the cloth or sponge onto the chrome surface, making sure to cover the entire area. The acid in the cola helps to break down dirt and grime. 

  3. 3

    After scrubbing, rinse the chrome thoroughly with water and wipe it dry with a clean cloth. 

This process can be repeated if necessary for stubborn stains or build-up. Remember to test a small, inconspicuous area before cleaning the entire chrome surface to ensure compatibility.

How to clean chrome taps and fixtures

A common problem with many chrome features in the home, especially in places like the kitchen and bathroom, is that they can be very awkward shapes. Think of things like taps, flush handles and shower heads. This makes cleaning them and bringing up their shine quite challenging.

Moisture and heat create a breeding ground for mould and bacteria. So, it’s especially important to keep them well cleaned to maintain hygiene, as well as impeccable surfaces. We recommend reading our article on how to use mould and mildew removers in bathrooms and kitchens.

Here’s where a commercial chrome cleaner can come in handy. Rather than using cream-based cleaning products for chrome, consider using wipes, sprays, and mousse cleaners. These solutions expand upon contact, making it easier for you to get to all those hard-to-reach areas.

Here’s what to do:

  1. 1

    Apply a high quality chrome cleaner (Cif Power & Shine Bathroom or Cif Power & Shine Kitchen are both good choices) to a clean cotton cloth. Then, wipe over the chrome.

  2. 2

    Leave per the product’s instructions, and then rinse with warm water.

  3. 3

    Gently remove any product residue using a dry chamois or paper towel.

  4. 4

    For the best finish, buff your chrome with a clean, dry cloth afterwards.

How to clean tarnished chrome

Don’t despair if your chrome has lost its lustre – it can be fixed with this quick and easy hack.

Believe it or not, aluminium foil is a brilliant way to buff up your chrome. It’s a softer metal, which means it won’t scratch or damage it the way a stainless steel sponge might.

Just break off a small sheet of foil, crumple it into a small ball and dip it in some warm water. Then, use it to rub the chrome all over, much as you would with a scouring pad.

For even more effectiveness, you can try dipping the foil into a vinegar cleaning solution first. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your chrome will brighten up.

How to polish chrome

Nothing gives a room that sparkling finishing touch like gleaming chrome surfaces. Dulled chrome, whether due to water spots or tarnish, is very common but, luckily, easy enough to fix.

Simply use a clean, dry cloth to buff up your chrome after using our cleaning method above. Make sure to rinse and polish your chrome immediately after cleaning, as soapy water can leave streaky marks when it dries.

You could opt for a quality dedicated polish, designed specifically for chrome surfaces, and simply buff it on using a clean, soft cloth. Before using any new products, make sure to test them on a small, inconspicuous are a.

Answers to your chrome cleaning questions

What is the best way to clean chrome?

Although there are plenty of commercial chrome cleaners out there, plain warm water and regular soap is one of the easiest and most effective ways to clean chrome. How do you remove oxidation from chrome?

Chrome can oxidise over time and even begin to develop rust spots. Luckily, a simple cleaning solution and a bit of elbow grease is all you usually need to get rid of these marks.

Start with our simple chrome cleaning method, outlined above. Then, move on to trying our tips for cleaning chrome with things like vinegar, baking soda or tin foil.

Will vinegar damage chrome fixtures?

Vinegar is so great at removing rust from chrome because it’s an acid. However, you should use it carefully and sparingly and not leave it sitting too long.

How do I make chrome shine again?

One of the best ways to clean chrome surfaces while bringing back their shine is using Cif Cleanboost Power + Shine. This product effectively lifts tough dirt, grime and grease off your chrome fixtures and items. At the same time, it leaves a streak-free shine on the surface.

Can you clean chrome with rubbing alcohol?

Yes, you can use rubbing alcohol to spot-treat tough stains on chrome surfaces. However, you should use it sparingly. Otherwise, discolouration may occur on your chrome fixtures and items.

Is WD-40 good for cleaning chrome?

Yes, you can use WD-40 to clean chrome. This product can also be a great home hack when you want to add shine to chrome surfaces.


1. D'Aquino, M., & Teves, S. A. (1994). Lemon juice as a natural biocide for disinfecting drinking water. Bulletin of the Pan American Health Organization, 28(4), 324–330.

2. Mwangi, C. (2017). Preparation and Evaluation of Rust Removal Solution for Anticorrosive Properties [MA thesis]. University of Nairobi.

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