Stainless Steel Sinks – Can They Rust?

Stainless steel sinks are beautiful, stylish and functional additions to any modern kitchen. From their sleek good looks to their easy care, they are the perfect industrial accompaniment to stainless appliances and fixtures, and complement the natural, organic aesthetic of a granite or quartz countertop.

One question many homeowners share is — are stainless steel sinks prone to rusting? The simple answer is yes. While stainless steel is a versatile, useful metal, it comes in many grades. The common grade for kitchen sinks is Austenitic stainless steel. Classified as 304 by the American Iron and Steel Institute’s AISI, it is used in the manufacturing of kitchen sinks and other appliances. When investing in a new sink, it is important to realize that not all 304 grade stainless products are created equal.

304 Stainless Steel Grades

18/8 is the most commonly used steel in sinks, meaning that it is composed of 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel by weight. The chromium creates a barrier against oxygen and moisture, which causes corrosion and rust. The chromium content must be at least 18 percent to effectively safeguard against rust. It also provides resistance to stress corrosion and cracking.

Rust Prevention

Stainless steel sinks can, and do rust. Prevent damage by caring for your new sink properly.

  • Leaving cast iron cookware in your sink for any length of time will because iron particles to attach to the sink, causing the appearance of rust. Instead, promptly wash the cookware, dry it and remove it from your sink.
  • Always air-dry dishes on your countertop, not in the sink.
  • Never use steel wool to scour your stainless sink – steel wool breaks apart and will leave particles behind that will cause rust.
  • Opening a can of vegetables or soup and leaving it in the sink will cause a ring to appear. Your best bet is to make an effort not to leave items in your sink.
  • After using your sink, clean it with the cleansers specifically formulated for stainless sinks, which will keep particles from attaching to the sink and giving the appearance of rust.
  • Always rinse cleaning products away thoroughly to keep them from drying on the surface and degrading the finish.
  • If your sink has yet to be used, but already displays small, scattered rust stains, Clean the sink immediately after installation.

Even with care, your sink may develop rust through no fault of yours. Purchasing quality sink products that don’t opt to use less nickel, or replace it with other cheaper alloys will ensure that your sink lasts and provides years of rust-free beauty in your kitchen.