Toothpaste and bicarbonate of soda will both do an adequate job of removing surface rust. However, toothpaste is abrasive and will polish the metal simultaneously, whereas the bicarbonate of soda is slightly alkaline and will neutralize acid corrosion products. Therefore, does toothpaste remove rust?
No. Toothpaste cannot remove rust itself, but it can remove rust stains. All you have to do is apply a little quantity on the spot where the rust stain is, rub with a moist cloth, rinse, and then wash the material the normal way.
It might sound like an old wives’ tale, but in this case, it’s true. Toothpaste can deliver a light abrasive action that can help remove rust from tools or other metal objects, making toiletries and oral hygiene products one of the most versatile items in your home.
Also, the toothpaste has to be a white paste, NOT gel or any other type of toothpaste, or else it will not work. You may need to apply a little pressure and scrub at the rust spot with an old toothbrush for about two minutes.
This article gives more information on this topic by pointing out the steps to follow to get rid of rust from metal. It will also help you understand rust as a photochemical reaction, how it occurs, and how to prevent it on metals.
Rust as an Electrochemical Reaction
Generally, rust is another name for iron oxide. It is a type of corrosion that occurs in metals and iron when iron or metal alloys like stainless steel react with oxygen or moist air in the presence of water.
Rusting is an electrochemical reaction that involves molecules, where electrons move from iron molecules to oxygen molecules in the environment, changing the composition of the metal and transforming it to iron oxides.
With the frequency at which rusting occurs, it is hard to see a metal lying around in the environment that doesn’t have an oxide on it, or showing signs of rust, and that’s because oxygen is found in every environment.
Rusting normally occurs gradually but if water is present, the rate at which the reaction takes place will skyrocket, especially if the water contains a high concentration of electrolytes which helps electrons to move faster. This phenomenon explains why rust spreads faster on iron when salt is present in the medium of reaction.
How Does Rust Occur?
For rusting to occur, both oxygen and water must be present. Scientists have proven that oxygen reacts with metals in the presence of water, to form iron oxides in the form of rust.
This is a process that occurs when water or moisture in the air comes in contact with a metal, which results in a hydrated iron oxide that will start to rust the metal.
At the early stage when the metal is still showing signs of rust, water breaks the oxygen molecules which helps to fasten the reaction between the metal and oxygen; iron loses some electrons while oxygen absorbs them.
The ferric ions and ferrous present in the iron react with water to give hydrogen, hydroxide, and ferrous hydroxide. The hydroxides further lose their water content to enable the iron to produce more iron compounds that will make the metal keep rusting.
These chemical reactions form the rust particles and flakes you see on metals that will fall off the piece of iron, exposing the inner part of iron, making it prone to rusting as well.
How to Remove Rust with Toothpaste?
As someone who owns and uses sink or ceramics in your home, you must have encountered rust stains on any of these household tools and wondered how you can stop the rusting, or even clean the stains.
These stains which can be caused by the constant exposure of the material to water, or aging of the material have some effective ways through which you can remove them, and one of these ways is by using toothpaste.
Here are the steps to follow if you want to use toothpaste to get rid of that rust stain:
- Using warm water and a cleaner that doesn’t bleach, clean and wash the spot or affected surface vigorously. Then, dry with a towel.
- Depending on the size of the rust stain, add some quantity of toothpaste (use the white, non-gel type) on a soft fabric, brush, or scrub pad.
Note that one teaspoon of toothpaste can remove about a square inch of the rust stain.
- Apply a thick lump of the paste and spread it across the rust stain. Then wait for ten minutes to allow the toothpaste to react to the rust stains.
- Use a toothbrush or scrub pad and scrub the toothpaste thoroughly on the spot. Keep scrubbing until you see the rust stain loosening, and eventually wiped off.
- Use cold water and rinse the material.
Note: You can repeat steps 3 and 4 if you didn’t get the desired result.
How to Prevent Metals from Rusting?
Preventing metals from rusting is possible through some processes like galvanization. Galvanization is a process used to prevent the corrosion of metals, and it’s mostly used on stainless steel.
To galvanize a metal, the metal will be dipped in a zinc coating, which coats the metal, thereby inhibiting the reaction of the metal with water molecules and oxygen.
Note that once the zinc coating on a galvanized metal gets scraped or scratched, the exposed part will become prone to corrosion. Additionally, a specially manufactured paint produced for metal coating purposes can be used to coat metal to prevent it from rusting.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
Can Toothpaste Remove Scratches?
Yes, you can remove scratches with a soft cloth and a little toothpaste. Gently take a smear of the toothpaste and rub it on the spot where the scratch is, then use the soft fabric to smoothen the scratches away.
Can Household Items Clean Rust Stains?
Yes, rust stains can be removed with some household items like toothpaste, baking soda, vinegar, etc, and not with chlorine bleach or normal laundering; chlorine bleach will only make them permanent thereby worsening the case.
If the stain refuses to go after the first application, repeat the same steps or try a different cleaner or dissolver.
Toothpaste cannot remove rust, but it can remove stains caused by rusting. Simply apply a smear of toothpaste on the spot where the rust stain is, and use a toothbrush to scrub the stains away.
Repeat the same process if the stain didn’t go on the first trial.