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topic 36584

Rust on new stainless steel appliances

A discussion started in 2005 but continuing through 2019


Q. Hello!

I purchased stainless steel, A-quality kitchen appliances in December 2004. I am very careful cleaning these products using only mild soaps or sometimes simply water and a clean towel.

About three months ago I noticed that the oven door was covered in small rust-colored spots. After careful observation, I also noticed these on the lower edge of the stove top had these marks. I have also found them on the sink rims.

I was informed by the dealer that this wasn't rust but "some sort of a chemical reaction with the water" (?). He cleaned the metal with a product made specifically for cleaning stainless steel. However, these marks have returned. I was also told to clean the metal with White Spirit, but have hesitated to do so as I'm concerned about warranty requirements.

In my opinion, this is rust. Whatever it is, it seems to me that this should not be happening on a supposedly top quality stainless steel surface.

Could you give me information on this problem?
Thanks very much!

Marcia P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
homeowner - Hattiesburg, Mississippi


Q. Your story of rusting of new kitchen appliances is similar to mine and no one is giving a straight explanation. We also purchased our appliances in Nov 2004. We bought a new GE Profile Fridge, Jenn-Air Range, and Fisher-Pakel double drawer dishwasher. Within 6 months, rust spots started showing up on all of them. After months of back and forth with the local reps, we finally got MayTag (Jenn-Air)to agree to replace the rusting panels, only to figure out after he came, that the new panels are steel (that just look like Stainless) magnetics stick to them like glue. Fisher-Pakel came in and replaced the front panels, with what they said was stainless, but they look totally different than what was taken out, and nothing like stainless (magnets don't stick though). The GE fridge, continues to rust away and just looks horrible and we been promised numerous times that "things are on order". So now instead of having 3 appliances that matched, we now have one that isn't stainless (not sure what it is), another that is some tan/gold thing they claim is stainless, and a rusting GE refrigerator. My next step is to contact the States Attorney and file a suit that many of these manufactures are claiming to sell (and charge big $$) for stainless steel appliances, that in reality, aren't. Or at best are made with the cheapest grade of stainless, that you might as well call them unpainted steel, because they rust just like steel.
Good Luck, they haven't hear the end of this from me!

James H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Westbrook, Connecticut


A. Not to dispute your claim that the panels are low quality, James, but it isn't true that just because the metal is magnetic it is not stainless steel. Nickel-bearing stainless steels are non-magnetic, but other stainless steels are magnetic. Check your flatware drawer and you'll probably find some of each. In fact, you may find the knife handles non-magnetic and the knife blades magnetic.

Never use bleach or steel wool on stainless steel, and don't even think about using muriatic acid on nearby brickwork or floors, even in the garage, or the fumes will rust all the stainless in a house.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Q. The stainless front of our Amana dishwasher has developed small rust spots all over it. What can we do to clean the surface? We don't have this problem on our Amana fridge or Jenn-air stove.



Dave Aronson
consumer - Woodinville, Washington


A. There are stainless steel cleaners that may work. But never touch stainless with steel wool, never use bleach on it, and never use muriatic acid in the house at all.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Q. We have the same problem with rust stains on our Frigidaire refrigerator. After investigating, a metal expert told us the problem is in the brushing process the stainless steel goes through to get the brushed finish. A cheap process was used that had dirty brushes. The dirty brushes embedded particles into the steel. The rust is caused by these particles oxidising. He also indicated that too much of these particles in the steel & it can not be called stainless.

With all this being said we still have the problem & Sears is not going to do anything about it, calling it a cosmetic problem or caused by something we did.

Any further suggestion to fix this problem or anyone with luck dealing with manufacture would help.

Brian Johanson
- Kansas City, Missouri


A. Your metal expert has indeed identified one possible cause of stainless steel rusting, Brian. But it wasn't clear whether you are saying that he actually inspected yours, or whether s/he was speaking in generalities.

There are stainless steel cleaners that may work. Stellar Solutions is a supplier of stainless steel "passivating solutions" that manufacturers use to remove this "brushed-in" contamination, and you may want to contact them.

Again, never touch stainless with steel wool, never use bleach on it, and never use Muriatic Acid [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] in the house at all.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


A. We have a cleaner for stainless steel & it works well at taking off the rust. However, within a week it is back. First point stainless steel doesn't rust. What we are seeing is poor quality steel with high levels of carbon, that has not followed industry standard. One way stainless steel is graded is by carbon levels. Too high & it is just polished steel. In my opinion the appliances should not be considered stainless steel.

Brian Johanson
- Kansas City, Missouri


A. Stainless steel is steel with chrome and nickel added... Too little of these and your 'stainless' will certainly rust on you...

When you see "18/8" or "18/10" on a stainless steel item it means 18% nickel^chrome and either 8 or 10% chrome^nickel... this is high quality... What you get on appliances is not this quality...

Steel is iron with the carbon removed ... The more carbon remaining the more rust you will have...

Joe Wood
- Plymouth, Massachusetts

thumbs up signHi Joe. Thanks, but a small correction: 18/8 or 18/10 stainless is 18% chrome and 8 or 10% nickel.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Q. I am having a rust issue with my Jenn-Air side-by-side fridge, but I think it may have to do with the magnets we had placed on the door. Most of the stainless steel doors are fine, but the lower half of the left-side door has developed some rust spots where we had stick some of those flexible magnets that many stores give away as advertisements. They were under the water dispenser, so I am assuming the rust developed due to water dripping down the door from the dispenser, and either causing the magnets to rust and stain the door, or getting trapped under the magnets and then causing the door to rust. Either way, I tried applying some CLR [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] full-strength to the spots to little effect. Anyone have any suggestions on how to get these spots off?

Colin White
- Wakefield, Massachusetts


A. I have a Jenn Air stainless steel side-by-side refrigerator that was showing a few rust spots on the doors. I used a Mr. Clean magic eraser to remove the spots, followed up with Method stainless steel cleaner. Doors looked great.

Christine Ashley
- Southern Pines, North Carolina


Q. I went on line today because I also purchased a sears stainless steel oven and have always used the cleaner sears sold to me to care for my appliances. I have small rust spots all over the front of the oven that I paid 1500.00 dollars for. Nobody seems to care. What can be done legally anybody have suggestions. Mine is off of warranty. Sears I thought was a good company but now I find they could care less. What can I do so my kitchen that was redone doesn't look like a big rust sore.


Karen Bailey
- Brick New Jersey


Q. I live in Brooklyn and gently wiped off my new Maytag fridge and stove with a damp sponge like Maytag said and one week later both appliances have tiny rust spots. When I went back to Home Depot they said someone else was just there with the same problem. These are new appliances and now I see that other have had this problem. No matter what the "experts" say - my stainless steel tools hardly never rust or it takes decades of neglect. What should I do "stop payment"?

George Burke
customer - Brooklyn, New York


A. I can't advise you on stopping payment, George, but I can warn you that bleach is murder on stainless steel. Are you sure that gentle wipe did not include bleach?

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Q. I bought 3 stainless steel Maytag appliances June '06 from Home Depot: dishwasher, gas stove and venting microwave. No more than 6 mos later, rusty specks were showing up and removable. They kept coming back and with a vengeance. I don't use bleach or cleaners w/bleach and I don't own steel wool or muriatic acid. Now that I'm beyond frustrated and sick to my stomach that my $5 k worth of appliances look well... not like they cost $5 k, I'm finding that there are varying grades of "stainless steel" and that a low-quality stainless, 430 , which holds magnets, is susceptible to damage including pitting and rusting. Very frustrating particularly since I just put a magnet on both my dishwasher AND my oven and... they stuck. I am so saddened. So... any tips on cleaning the rust spots until I can remodel the kitchen and sell the appliances off?

Nicole Berry
- Fairfield, Connecticut


Q. We have experienced the same problem with ALL 5 of the Jenn air Products purchased for our kitchen. We purchased them in 2006 and they all have rust spots on them. Two of the panels have already been replaced and the rust is on those as well.
Jenn air's position is WE have an environmental issue!
They refuse to be accountable to this defect. We have tried all avenues and are now going to sue them for the replacement cost and installation of new appliances.
They claim they have never heard of this before and then when pressed, say okay maybe in those areas around the ocean! We live at the base of the Blue Ridge Mtns...go figure..could it be, just maybe a production problem?


Cathy Mysak
- Waterford, Virginia


I am not here to defend Jenn-air, Cathy, or any of the other appliance manufacturers mentioned. But if you have five different appliances that suffer the same problem, probably manufactured in several different factories, it doesn't sound like "a production problem" on the factory floor. To me it sounds like someone used muriatic acid or bleach on a tile floor, brickwork, or concrete floor. I've said it several times on this page, but for the benefit of new readers: don't use or let your contractors use muriatic acid anywhere in or around the house if you have stainless appliances.

You might talk to a supplier of proprietary citric acid passivating solutions like Stellar Solutions about the possibility of correcting this rusting and preventing further rusting in the future. Best of luck.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Dear Ted,

WE NEVER used any muriatic acid or any other kind of acid in our kitchen.
It seems clear from the numerous postings that production of these appliances is the problem regardless of where and when each one was produced. If it is a matter of policy and practice the product will be less than desirable. This seems to be the case with all of these folks. Certainly it is the case with our appliances.
It is never normal for true stainless steel to rust. PERIOD.
I think most people taking the time to write their concerns, also take the time to care for their expensive appliances ... it is not the consumer you should be looking to.

Cathy Mysak
- Waterford, Virginia

I feel for your problem, Cathy. I bought a Maytag dishwasher because of their previous long history of providing reliable appliances to my household. It is plain "crappy" -- paper-thin face panels that the trained installer dented with his knee, a burned out water valve straight from the factory, plastic wheels that broke off the drawers in the first month, and so on. And all the while, I was forced to be the repair co-ordinator for each breakdown: I had to be home to receive the parts by UPS; I had to verify that they were the right parts; I had to call to tell them when the parts came in. I could almost cry when I remember my several engineering trips to the Maytag factory in the heartland of Newton Iowa which used to build icons of reliability.

Swearing off the new Maytag, when my 35 year old Maytag clothes washer finally gave out I switched to a Kenmore washer/dryer combo. It must have been designed by children who never used a clothes dryer, as each turn of the drum pushes clothes into a space under a door protrusion which compresses the clothes, then extrudes them through a narrower gap that catches and rip seams, snags clothes by their buttonholes, and rips buttons off -- it's designed like a shredder, and that's what it does. We kept it less than a year and replaced it with an LG.

Today's highly destructive, sickeningly overpaid CEO's, with their "meatball whoring" (licensing those logos/meatballs for use on garbage) have in just a couple of years squandered reputations for quality that took generations of blood, sweat & tears to build. I am NOT here to defend these leaches! Besides making me spend my hard-earned money on garbage, and putting my friends out of business by moving manufacturing offshore, even worse: today's CEO's have collectively put the security of our nation at utmost peril by deliberately razing the Arsenal of Democracy that won two World Wars ... and built in its stead a People's Arsenal in China -- knowing full well the consequences for our children.

But there are countless inquiries on this site where people ruined their stainless appliances with steel wool, bleach, scotch brite, vinegar, or by letting an installer use tile acid in a bathroom or garage, and where the writer bemoaned that nobody warned them. So that's what I'm doing. It is also becoming obvious that stainless steel appliances look like they are robust when they are the opposite -- and we are also trying to bring that to the attention of undecided readers.

Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


Q. I recently hired a cleaning person at my home. He typically cleans commercial buildings. About one month after he use a product called "damp oil" on my stainless steel fridge (9 years old), stove (7 years old) and dishwasher(brand new), I have noticed tiny rust spots on them. Have you heard of damp oil, and what is in it that could be ruining my appliances? Can I possibly reverse this problem? The damp oil does not seem to harm the office building elevator stainless.

Patricia Palmer
buyer - Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


A. Having read all the responses to the rusting of stainless steel products. I give my conclusions. S/S should be manufactured in a clean environment and most certainly away from carbon steel. Even if during manufacturing a piece of carbon steel touches some S/S, carbide precipitation takes place and rusting occurs on the S/S. Hence why some people have advised against using metal type scrubbers. Indeed one engineer said water can be the cause, yes it can if the water has a high mineral content it can cause rusting. Some manufactures of pressure vessels ask for de chlorinated water to be used for pressure testing thus eliminating the risk of rusting. The only answer I can give to help remove the rusting is to apply some aluminium persulphate (don't know where you would get some) and use this on a cotton cloth to rub away the rust. it may come back but that depends how deep it has penetrated. Good luck.

Brent Huntington
- Goole, England

June 8, 2008



robert Goodwin
- Darwin , northern territory , Australia

June 19, 2008

! I have a fair amount of stainless steel around my house. A few months ago, a Maytag stainless steel front fridge joined the line-up. As you well may have guessed - it rusts. I, too, first suspected anything else other than a manufacturing defect. I also tried about every sensible cleaning method, only for the rust to return within days.

I finally called in the warranty, and along with two other issues that needed addressing; I managed to get replacement doors ordered. I hope that by now there has been enough of a ruckus that the new doors are made properly. While I am waiting for the service personnel to come on site to swap out the doors, I am testing a surface spot with a damp kitchen sponge to catch any early signs of degradation.

Interestingly, my Dacor stove (stainless) has had zero rust issues and sees far more moisture, scrubbing, etc. and has been around years longer. If chemical exposure or aggressive cleaning as an issue, that stove would be first to rust, but not a speck.

Best I can tell, these panels for "better" appliances (yet not "high end") are simply flawed. BTW, that Maytag serviceman from the commercial, a myth, warranty service is outsourced.

JH Blau
- Oakland, California

July 5, 2008

Q. Are you kidding me? About a week or so ago is when I first noticed the little tiny specks of rust on my Frigidaire refrigerator, I couldn't believe my eyes; I called my cousin because he's my go-to guy. I told him that maybe it was because of the magnets I had on it when I first bought it (tax return 2007). He just laughed and said magnets don't stick to stainless steel. I gave Frigidaire and hh gregg a lot of money (for me); the rust doesn't start until the warranty is up even though when you have a warranty it's like pulling teeth to get these people the fix a problem. I'd just bought my condo. in Nov.'06. I'm thinking I'll add some value to my home by small improvements and it will good for resale, I never thought in a million years that I might have to buy all three appliances again. (I can't, I'm on a budget so tight there is no budget!) Speaking of that, I need to check my dishwasher and stove. (All three Frigidaire). If anyone has anything, please continue to share.

Kenya Eldridge
- Los Angeles, California

July 27, 2008

A. Hi Folks,

I've been following this thread after having similar experiences with our SS Amana and Maytag appliances (1 year old to date). All three of these units (DW, Range and Fridge) have shown the same small rust spot problems mentioned here. The DW has been the worse.

I brought in the service guy from the local store where we bought them. He said he'd be happy to change out all the panels, but also advised that the same issue may come back. He recommended I try Noxon 7 [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] to clean the appliances first. If I still wasn't happy, he'd put new panels on. We bought a 4 year service plan, so I have the time.

This stuff is incredible. It smells pretty bad, so be certain to work in a well ventilated area, and put some gloves on. I suggest working on small areas, and put aside a decent amount of time before getting started. It took me about 2.5 hours to do the DW and Range alone, and a lot of elbow grease. You'll see all sorts of black grime come off on your towel. Change your towel often (I went through a roll on each appliance). Just keep applying/wiping off in cycles until you're happy with the look.

It removed all of the spots, and brought the steel back to the same brightness as when they were first installed. It's now 3 weeks later, none of the spots have returned. I couldn't believe how much better the steel looked. It does take a lot of effort and you're not going to like the smell, but it doesn't linger once your done. I wiped everything down with water after, just in case there was residual Noxon on the steel. I didn't want that stuff getting on hands and ending up in food or someone's mouth.

I'll post in about a month or two to let everyone know if it lasts.

joe Boston
- melrose Massachusetts

September 1, 2008

I have been following this listing for a while as well...since we are having these "rust spot" related problems on our stainless steel appliances.

Thank you for suggestions related to the cleaning alternatives.

I am just absolutely appalled at the fact that despite charging such exorbitant prices for kitchen appliances, the material used by most of these companies is so sub standard.

I really think we should consider litigation against some of these companies, since this is consumer fraud.

Any takers?

Sunanda Kishore Cruz
- Washington DC

January 4, 2009

Q. The "stainless steel" tub in our brand new Maytag Centennial washing machine has rusted after the FIRST LOAD, consisting of one, medium-sized blanket. There are also black smudges all over the tub (particularly around the top rim), that just won't quit rubbing off, no matter how many damp paper towels I try to use to get it clean. I am afraid to wash any more clothes in this machine for fear of ruining them. We also just installed a brand new $1800 whole-house iron extracting machine, in addition to our water softener. One hundred percent of the former iron problems we used to have in sinks, showers, and toilets had disappeared before using our new washing machine for the first time. Translation: the rust is positively NOT coming from the water.

Also, I would like to know how one is to avoid using bleach in the stainless steel tub of their WASHING MACHINE. That would be the machine one puts his/her dirty laundry into to clean--and, yes, occasionally BLEACH--so that it can be worn/used again. Please do not tell me we are not to use bleach in the laundry anymore. This machine, in fact, has a bleach-dispensing cup built into it. (And for the record, the one lone blanket I have washed to date was not washed with bleach--just regular old detergent. And no, there has never been muriatic acid used. We are very cautious of chemicals and the environment.)

This wash tub is NOT stainless steel, or anything resembling it. The set goes back to Home Depot tomorrow for a full refund. Back to the drawing board. What is this country coming to? Even if you've managed to hold on to some of your money, you can't buy a quality product in America anymore to save your life. So sad . . .

Sara Girard
- Grand Rapids, Michigan

March 12, 2009

Q. Hi

Interesting thread. I'm having a similar problem. The sink is at least 7 or 8 years old and I've never had a problem.

However my cleaning lady uses Mr. Clean Magic Erasers on the sink. We noticed shortly afterwards that they were covered in scratches. Tons of circular scratches. We suggested that perhaps it was the Magic eraser that was doing it. She said that it was fine on stainless steel and that it was so clean that we were now seeing the scratches more clearly.

Two weeks ago we started seeing spots all over the sink. It is really distressing because it looks like the sink it filthy but it is actually really clean. Reading this column I'm now wondering if it is rust.I'm really starting to wonder if the Magic Eraser is the culprit in this. Could it be stripping the finish off? Or sinking into it and damaging the surface?

Has anyone else used this product and had bad effects?

Marvin Brother
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada

April 3, 2009

Q. I recently bought a KitchenAid S/S fridge and dishwasher.

After about 3 months of usage (and cleaning with a stainless steel cleaner once a month), I began to notice numerous little streaks. In sunlight, they look like soap scum (maybe rust-like) but once the sunlight is blocked, you can't really see the streaks anymore. I run my finger over it and these spots are perfectly smooth. It's like the fridge looks good and all of sudden in sunlight, there are thousands of streaks of 1/4 to 1/2 inch that show up.

I am very dismayed at this and tried cleaning with soap and water, vinegar even WD-40 [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] to no avail. Is my situation similar to what others are describing? Anyone had success cleaning it?

Chris Kwon
- El Cerrito, California

July 17, 2009

A. I found this page a couple of weeks ago when I was seeking a solution to small rust spots appearing randomly on my "stainless" Whirlpool fridge doors. We've never used anything other than those 'magic cloths' and water to clean the fridge, so it was very frustrating when this apparent damage started appearing.

Anyway, I tried 2 or 3 different SS cleaners that I found here to try and clean it up - nothing worked. Then I found 'De-Solv-It Stainless Steel Reviver' (got it from B&Q in the UK) which I didn't really hold out much hope for - it's a fairly innocuous looking white cream cleaner. But it works, almost like magic - hardly any rubbing required, no hint of streaking, etc, and the apparent rust deterioration has completely vanished - the fridge looks as good as new. Can't recommend this stuff enough!

Tony Morley
- Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK

August 23, 2009


April Irvin
- Blanchard Oklahoma

August 23, 2009

A. Hi, April. I would immediately take plenty of pictures, insist that the president/owner of the company visit to look at it, and then wash the floor with dilute baking soda.

I feel you may need to replace all the appliances. If this is what the fumes from the acid did to stainless steel, what do you think they did to the far less robust copper wiring and electronics?


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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