How to Get Rust Off a Dishwasher Rack

Dishwasher Rack

Nowadays, dishwashers are standard in households, as people use them to quickly and efficiently wash their dishes. And while some people still wash their dishes the old-fashioned way, it’s hard to deny that dishwashers are much more convenient. Equipped with racks similar to those for drying and storing dishes, dishwashers can handle all kitchen utensils and dishes. However, what happens if your dishwasher rack starts to rust? Are you trying to save it or buy a new one?

In general, rust occurs when the coating that protects the dishwasher rack begins to fade. It in itself can happen for a variety of reasons, but it is usually related to aging or improper handling of washing cycles:

Heating cycle: If the heating cycle is too hot, the vinyl covers of the stands will melt and damage the coating of the dish rack. Not only that, but the melting vinyl can also damage the dishwasher repair itself.

Trauma: If you drop dishes into the rack and overload it, the vinyl coating may slowly flake off. Even sharp utensils such as knives and forks can damage the coating if not placed correctly.

Aging: as a result of intensive use, the coating of low-quality racks begins to crack and fall. This process happens over time and becomes more noticeable after a few years of use.

What about metal dishwashers?

But what happens if your rack has no vinyl coating and is made of stainless steel? In this case, rust can occur for various reasons if your rack does not have a coating for protection:

Water pipes: The water pipes of the dishwasher are made of copper, metal, and brass, which means they are prone to rust. And if this happens, there is a great chance that your rack will also rust if it comes into contact with the pipes.

Forget cutlery: Most metal cutlery, such as knives and forks, tend to rust, especially if they are old. It is dangerous to forget about them in the rack after a wash, as rust can spread to the rack itself.

Iron-rich water: In some areas, the local water supply contains iron oxide, accumulating in the machine with each wash. The iron oxide adheres to metal parts such as racks and pipes and causes them to rust. 

Is rust on my dishwasher racks dangerous?

If rust forms in your dishwasher, it will usually stick to the rack and other metal utensils. And while it can also end up in your dishes, the amount of rust is undetectable and harmless.

However, if you notice large amounts of rust on your dishes, you need to avoid eating from them. Otherwise, skin rashes are at risk due to bacterial infections caused by rust. As a rule of thumb, you should rinse your dishes before eating, even if you recently washed them in the dishwasher.

Can I use my dishwasher if it has rust?

Depending on how much rust you have in your dishwasher, you can use it for a few more years. However, it is essential to understand that rusty pipes can eventually break and cause flooding. Even worse, if water touches the electrical components of the dishwasher, it can cause a short circuit and leave you without electricity or worse.

Therefore, we recommend you clean your dishwasher and racks as often as possible to avoid rust. You can also call a specialist to check your dishwasher and clean it. And if this is not possible, you should buy a new device as soon as possible.

Ways to remove rust from a dishwasher rack

If you are dealing with rust on your dishwasher rack, you can relax because there are several ways to get rid of it. From professional compounds to DIY solutions, the following will help you clean your dish racks in no time.


Oxalic acid is a compound known among installers as it removes rust from pipes. Therefore, you can use oxalic acid to clean stainless steel dishwasher racks that have begun to rust. And although it is available in liquid and powder form, the latter is more efficient. 

You have to sprinkle it all over the rack and then scrub it until the grate starts to break. But if you want to buy it in liquid form, you can pour a little oxalic acid into a towel and use it to clean the rusty area. And do not forget to rinse the rack after removing the grate.

Rust Remover Spray

Although oxalic acid should do the job well, you can opt for rust removal sprays that work similarly. Just apply it to the rusted area, let it soak for a few minutes, and then scrub it. Repeat the procedure until all the rust has disappeared, and rinse the rack to remove traces of chemical residues. However, be careful which rust removal spray you buy, as some are corrosive and can damage the rack.

Baking soda

Almost no DIY cleaning tutorial doesn’t mention baking soda, and for a good reason. Baking soda is a powerful chemical that can dissolve rust when mixed with water. Just fill the sink with water, add a little baking soda and soak the dish rack for up to 20 minutes. After that, remove the rack and rinse it thoroughly before letting it dry.


Vinegar is similar to baking soda but has the added benefit of preventing rust for a few days after use. So, how does it work? You need to fill the sink with water and then add a cup of vinegar or pour vinegar directly on the rusted parts of the rack. After that, scrub the rack with a sponge or brush, and the rust should quickly disappear. Give it another scrub with plain water; your dishwasher rack should be as good as new.

Lemon juice mix

If none of the above works, you must bring the big guns. Mix an equal amount of baking soda and vinegar until you get a paste. Then cover the grate with the paste and leave it there for about 30 minutes. Once this is done, scrub the area hard enough to remove rust, but not too hard as you could damage the rack. You can use a 3-in-1 cleaning brush to prevent additional damage to your rack. Repeat the procedure until you have removed all the rust, and do not forget to rinse the rack before use.


Overall, there is no denying that dishwasher racks can quickly get dirty and rusty for various reasons. From intensive use to contaminated water, preventing rust from taking over our favorite dishes is challenging. However, it is essential to remember that rust can get into our food, which can cause some health problems. Therefore, it is our responsibility to clean the dishwasher and its racks and remove traces of rust.

Fortunately, it does not matter how rusty or dirty the dish rack is because there are many ways to take care of it. And if somehow everything does not work out, we can always buy a better and more reliable replacement.

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