How to Remove Rust from Knives

Peter Stec
February 12, 2013

Knives, silverware, pots, and pans can all rust if they are made of steel. Don’t worry, the rust is not dangerous and you can still safely use the knife. The only issue with rusted knives is that it is unsightly and can add impurities to your food preparation. Also, if rust is not treated, it can end up making a knife unusable.

Types of Steels and How they Rust

Steel is divided into two general categories: stainless and carbon. Carbon steel is made up of mostly iron with a small percentage of carbon and a few other metals. Stainless steel is made up of iron, chromium (about 15%), carbon, and a few other metals. The chromium surrounds the iron and protects it from being oxidized by oxygen. However, chromium reduces the durability of the blade–it’ll need to be sharpened more often than carbon steel.

Stainless steel is more resistant to rust than carbon steel but it does not mean that it is rust-proof. It can withstand moisture more than carbon steel but, with severe misuse, it can still rust. Only titanium and ceramic knives are 100% rust proof since they do not contain iron.

How to Prevent Rusting on Knives

  • Do not wash your knives, pots, pans, and good silverware in the dishwasher. The extreme heat will cause the metal to expand and contract, causing stress points that can become the seeds to rust.
  • Wash your knives after each use and dry them off. The oxygen in water can easily bond to the iron and this is the most common source of rust.
  • Avoid salt water. If you are going to work in a salt water environment, use a titanium or ceramic knife.

Once a knife has rust, the rust can be removed but the knife will always re-rust in the same spots. It is best to prevent rust since removing rust is only a temporary situation.

How to Remove Rust from Knives

There are a few methods you can use to remove rust from knives. They will remove the sight of rust but the rust will never be cured. Basically, you need to use something that is acidic to free the oxidized iron from the rest of the metal.

With Lemon Juice

Take a lemon, slice it in half, and run one side on the rusted metal. If the rust is small, you can remove it with a scrubbing pad. If it is large, you might need to leave the lemon on the spot for 30 minutes before it will start falling off.

With Vinegar

You can also soak the knife in white vinegar (apple cider vinegar might leave a stain) for 30 minutes. Afterward, use a scrubbing pad to remove the rust.


Rust is best treated with prevention. Once rusted, a knife is forever scarred. You can remove rust spots by soaking a knife in a non-toxic acid like lemon juice or vinegar. This can be used on all types of knives from machetes to pink pocket knives.

About The Author
Hey Knife Up gang! I'm Pete, and I'm just another man like you in a small rural town who loves the outdoors as much as the other million internet users that cruise sites like every day. The difference is that I like to share what I know and research what I don't totally know so that YOU can have all the info you need to feel confident and prepared for all things outdoors-related! And, for those who care, I have 42 years of wilderness canoeing and bushcraft experience in Northern Ontario and spend most of my Summers covered in mosquitos and fish slime, but hey, it's a lifestyle choice, eh?

2 comments on “How to Remove Rust from Knives”

  1. I work a lot with water. I use a Fixed Blade Utility Knife. Carbon Steel Blades rust. I bought some Utility Blades with Titanium Coating. Rust is no longer a problem. They cost more but they last so much longer and they’re Rust Proof. In the long run they’re actually cheaper.

  2. Use a pencil eraser! I work in the dental field and that is an old trick we use all the time on our instruments when they get a spot of rust. Works like a charm!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search This Site:

KnifeUp was founded in 2010. Today, KnifeUp is the home to knife experts who provide clear, unbiased, practical advice on buying and maintaining knives to make your life easier.

Whether you’re looking to buy a knife, sharpen it or understand the knife laws, KnifeUp’s 11-year strong library of over 300 pieces of professionally researched content will answer your questions with straightforward answers.

"I've been looking for knife law guides for a while and your articles are amazing. I haven't found such clear law advice anywhere else. I'm really happy I found KnifeUp."
Chuck N
"KnifeUp's series of knife reviews was really helpful. I found a great knife that did exactly what I wanted to do thanks to them. They also helped me save $30! I love KnifeUp."
Kyle S
"I'm relieved that there is someone out there protecting me and my rights. When something threatens my rights, KnifeUp is the first to inform me."
Justin M is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fee by advertising and linking to Amazon

© 2021 KnifeUp. All Rights Reserved. Sitemap