How to Remove Surface Rust From Chrome

by Chris Weis

The gleam of a pristine chromium finish is an attractive addition to almost any possession. Appreciation for the shiny stuff may be most heart-felt among auto and motorcycle enthusiasts. Car collectors treasure mirrored surfaces of bumpers and grilles, while elaborate motorcycles are said to be dripping with chrome. Automotive paste wax may be a suitable means to protect new finishes, but more stringent measures are necessary to restore the lost luster of more weathered adornments. Surface rust, light crazing, and milky hazes are easily removed by proper polishes and a little "elbow grease."

Rust Busting


Ensure the surface to be polished is cool to the touch, and out of direct sunlight. Use a creamy liquid metal polish, like the types found in hardware stores. Shake the container vigorously, to stir the contents.


Place a quarter-sized dab of the polish onto a clean terrycloth rag. Apply the polish to a small area at first, to gain acclimation to the process. Massage the polish into the surface with back-and-forth motions, until the polish darkens in color.


Turn the rag over and use a clean, dry portion to remove the darkened polish. Buff away any remaining traces of polish with a soft cotton rag, such as an old tee shirt. Turn the buffing rag frequently, to keep the completed area free of used polish. Repeat the process at the same site, if necessary, to remove lingering deposits.


Continue in this manner across workable portions of the entire piece. Slightly overlap completed areas to acquire a uniform luster. Buff the entire surface repeatedly after polishing, to even the reflective and protective qualities.Make sure no residue remains.


  • check Remove heavier rust scales with extra-fine steel wool, before polishing. You may want to use rubber or latex gloves to keep your hands free of polish odors or steel wool filings.


  • close Keep your hands clear of your face when using any polish or abrasives. Prevent steel wool filings from entering engine carburetors or crankcases, to avoid engine damage. Do not use watery tarnish remover compounds, as they can stain or spoil the finish of chrome-plated parts. Follow all manufacturer's warnings printed on the polish container.

Items you will need


About the Author

Chris Weis is a freelance writer with hands-on experience in accident investigation, emergency vehicle operation and maintenance. He began his writing career writing curriculum and lectures in automotive mechanics at New York Technical Institute. Weis has contributed to "Florida" magazine and written procedure and safety guidelines for transportation concerns.

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