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How to clean chrome and remove rust and tarnish

You’ll love these clever ideas for easy chrome cleaning.

Updated

Water flowing out of a chrome kitchen tap.

Figuring out how to clean chrome is one of the most useful cleaning skills to have in your toolbox, 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 and, because it’s a soft metal, is 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.

How to clean chrome

You will need:

  • A bowl
  • A non-abrasive sponge or cloth
  • A soft, dry cloth
  • A bowl of warm water
  • Some good quality washing up liquid
  • A good quality kitchen cleaning spray (optional)
  • Kitchen roll

Method

  1. Wipe down the surface

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

  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. Wash the chrome

    Soak part of the sponge or cloth in your cleaning solution and apply it directly to the chrome, rubbing it in smooth, circular movements and 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.

  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, which is why 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.

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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. 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.

Vinegar

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 vinegar (don’t over dilute the vinegar as it will lose its potency), and 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 and leave it to sit for 5-10 minutes (the acid in the vinegar will help dissolve the rust) before scrubbing it with a soft sponge and rinsing in warm water. For more on rust, check out our guide on removing rust in the kitchen and bathroom.

Baking soda

If there’s 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.

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 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.

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 that expand upon contact and make it easier for you to get to all those hard-to-reach areas.

Here’s what to do:

  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, and wipe over the chrome.

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

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

  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 before using 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.

You could 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, before moving 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, but this does mean you should use it carefully and sparingly and not leave it sitting too long, especially if there isn’t a lot of rust or dirt to remove.

How do I clean a stained chrome shower head?

Shower heads are extremely prone to a buildup of limescale, which not only looks unsightly but can start affecting water flow. Luckily, our guide on how to clean a shower head has lots of tips and tricks.

Originally published