How to Prevent Dish Racks From Rusting – Complete Guide in 2021

How to prevent dish rack from rusting

A lot of people prefer metal dish racks over plastic alternatives, and stainless steel is the most commonly used material in them. However, steel appliances are always susceptible to rust. Dish racks go through a tough cycle of wear and tear throughout their lifetime, and the steel used in them isn’t always high quality and may rust easily. In this article, we’ll be looking at reasons dish racks get rusty and how we can prevent that.

What is Rust?

Rust is an iron oxide, a compound of iron and oxygen. Oxygen is highly reactive; in the presence of water and moisture, it binds with iron and produces iron oxides aka rust. So rusting requires both oxygen and moisture to be present, or else a piece of steel will never rust.

Manufacturers use different techniques to tackle this problem. Most commonly, they make racks from stainless steel, an alloy of iron that is rust-resistant. Stainless steel is produced by mixing iron with little carbon and approximately 11% chromium. This added chromium creates a protective layer of chrome oxide on the surface.

Another method is to add a coating of chromium or zink to the surface. This process is known as galvanizing. In some cases, Plastic or other materials are used for the protective layer. It’s comparatively cheaper than other methods, but the steel is still vulnerable to rust if the layer gets damaged.

Ways to Prevent Dish Racks From Rusting

Now that we know why rust forms, let’s cut to the chase and explore things we can do to prevent rust:

Know What You are Buying

While you may be tempted to buy that rack you saw in your friend’s kitchen, you should always learn the specifications. That’s because not all racks are made equal, and each has unique pros and cons.

Most manufacturers use steel, but there are variations in quality. Budget racks generally use cheap and low-quality steel that’s not fully rustproof. The most common among these are plastic coated dish racks. They use flimsy steel wires with a protective plastic coating for longevity. Although they’ll only last a year or two, they generally don‘t rust unless the plastic is damaged. 

There are also high-end stainless steel ones. Most of these use 204 and 304 stainless steel components. Although they can be a bit expensive, they’ll last a few good years and won’t rust.

Eco-friendly Alternatives

If you’re looking for something more natural and eco-friendly, go for a bamboo or wooden dish rack. The caveat here, is that water can potentially damage the bamboo or wood. Nonetheless, some companies are creating high quality bamboo racks that last long.

Clean and Dry Regularly

As a dish rack’s sole purpose is to dry and hold dishes, it gets dirty a lot. They also accumulate dirt and grease from kitchen air. To prevent rust from your dish rack, you need to keep it clean and dry.

Clean The Rack Regularly to Prevent Rust:

  1. Disassemble all the parts of the dish rack. The rack should come with a user manual; read it and carefully separate all the components.
  2. Scrub all the parts with a cleaning agent. Use a scrubber or a brush and apply the cleaning agent thoroughly all over them. You can use a rack cleaner brush if you’ve got one. However, a normal brush will work just as fine. Don’t use metal scrubbers if your dish rack has a protective coating.
  3. Rinse everything under running water. Make sure you clean all the smaller and tricky areas equally well.
  4. Dry the rack before using it again. Put it over some rags or a dish drying mat, or sun-dry if possible. Use it only when it’s completely dry.

The Vinegar Method

This is purely optional, but there’s this popular vinegar method. Many people think it prevents rust, which isn’t just true. Diluted acetic acid aka vinegar can’t prevent rust, but it can remove already accumulated rust from your kitchenware. Just soak a piece of absorbent cloth in white vinegar and put it over the rusted area of the rack. The rust will slowly dissolve in the acid. Give it some time and wipe the area properly.

Even if you don’t have a rusty rack, doing this on a regular basis may help prevent molds and bacterial growth.

Preserve The Outer Coating

Nowadays, many dish racks have a plastic coating on them to prevent rusting. But even slight damage to the coating will make it vulnerable to rust, as it regularly gets in contact with water. If you own one with plastic coating outside, you should take extra care while handling it.

  • Be gentle: Most dish racks are flimsy. So be gentle when picking up and placing them.
  • Handle Dishes with care: Be careful with knives and other sharp tools. When putting dishes in the rack, handle them carefully. Don’t overload the rack and put too many dishes.

Use Mechanical Tape in Damaged Areas

If your rack has a protective plastic coating on it, regularly check for any damaged region. If you find any, use some mechanical tape. Cover all the affected area with tape; it will provide good protection against water or moisture. A good bit of tape can save your rack from rusting and prolong its service life.


Most Dish racks are made to be durable, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever. Over time it will take a lot of damage, and having a faulty appliance for too long is never a good idea. So do look for a replacement if necessary.

If your rack has already rusted and you are looking for a way to get rid of rust, watch this video:

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