Rust stains on quartz countertops can be unsightly and difficult to remove. Quartz is a very hard, non-porous material that resists stains, but rust presents a stubborn challenge. With some effort and the right products, you can get those stubborn rust stains off your quartz. Here is a step-by-step guide to removing rust from quartz countertops.
What Causes Rust on Quartz?
Rust forms when iron or iron-containing metals undergo oxidation. This often happens when wet metal items are left on quartz countertops. Some common causes of rust on quartz include:
- Leaving iron or steel kitchen tools like pots, pans, and utensils on the countertop. Moisture gets trapped between the metal and the quartz leading to oxidation.
- Using iron or steel wool for cleaning. Tiny particles left behind can oxidize into rust spots.
- Spilling beverages or foods containing iron. Things like wine, vinegar, and tomato sauce can leave behind iron deposits.
- Iron content in water. Well water high in iron can leave rust stains when spilled on quartz.
- Metal pins, bolts, or brackets used in quartz installation. If they get wet, they can create rust marks.
So in most cases, rust forms when iron makes contact with the quartz in the presence of moisture. Acidic foods and beverages can accelerate the oxidation process as well.
How to Remove Rust Stains from Quartz Countertops
Removing rust from quartz requires using the right rust-removing chemical compounds. Here are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Prepare the Quartz Surface
First, clear the countertop of everything – dishes, appliances, rags, etc. Make sure the surface is completely dry. Quartz is highly resistant to staining, but you want to avoid wetting it as much as possible during the rust removal process.
If there are any crumbs, grease, or grime on the surface, do a quick wipe down with a mild soap and warm water. Avoid harsh cleaners which could damage the finish. Dry the surface thoroughly with a soft cloth.
Step 2: Apply a Rust Stain Remover
Specialized chemical rust removers are the most effective products for quartz countertops. Look for ones that contain oxalic or phosphoric acid, which break down rust into soluble compounds. Some good ones to try:
- Bar Keeper’s Friend – Contains oxalic acid plus abrasives to help scrub away rust stains. Comes as a powder you mix into a paste.
- Whink Rust Stain Remover – An oxalic acid solution designed for porcelain and fiberglass. Can also work well on quartz.
- Naval Jelly – A phosphoric acid solution available at hardware stores. Removes rust stains from metal, porcelain, quartz, etc.
Always check the product label to make sure it is suitable for quartz. Avoid bleach or hydrogen peroxide based cleaners as these can damage the quartz sealant.
Follow the product instructions closely. Usually you apply a thin layer over the rust stain, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then scrub with a non-abrasive brush or sponge rinse. Avoid using a metal scouring pad or steel wool.
Step 3: Scrub the Rust Stains
After letting the remover sit, scrub the area to work the chemical treatment into the stain. A soft brush, plastic scouring pad, or sponge works best for quartz. Apply light pressure and scrub in a circular motion.
Stubborn spots may need more time to penetrate. Reapply the remover and let it sit longer before scrubbing again. The rust should slowly break down so you can scrub it away.
Step 4: Rinse and Dry
Once the rust stains have lifted, thoroughly rinse the area with clean water. Make sure to remove all traces of the cleaning products – residue left behind could damage the finish.
Dry the surface completely with a soft, lint-free cloth. Inspect closely and repeat the process if any faint rust stains remain.
It may take several treatments to fully remove stubborn or set-in rust stains, but this oxalic/phosphoric acid method should dissolve them over time.
Tips for Preventing Rust on Quartz
Once you’ve succeeded in removing those pesky rust stains, here are some tips to prevent new ones from forming:
- Wipe up spills immediately, especially acidic foods/drinks. Don’t let liquid sit.
- Never leave wet metal objects sitting on quartz. Towel dry pots, pans, and utensils.
- Use coasters under bottles, vases, etc. to prevent moisture rings.
- Avoid using steel wool or metal brushes which can leave behind iron particles.
- Install a water filtration system if you have iron in your water supply.
- Reseal and polish quartz countertops annually to protect the surface.
- Apply wax paste wax to form a protective barrier. Reapply monthly.
- When cleaning, use a quartz-safe cleaner like soapy water or vinegar. Avoid bleach and hydrogen peroxide.
With prompt cleanup of spills and keeping metal objects away, you can minimize the risk of ugly rust stains forming on your beautiful quartz countertops.
Common Questions About Rust on Quartz Countertops
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about dealing with rust on quartz:
What is the easiest way to remove rust from quartz?
The easiest and most effective way is to use a store-bought rust remover containing oxalic or phosphoric acid. Products like Bar Keeper’s Friend, Whink, or Naval Jelly work well. Apply to the stain, let sit 5-10 minutes, then scrub clean. The acid dissolves the rust so it can be wiped away.
What homemade solution removes rust stains from quartz?
Make a DIY paste with baking soda, lemon juice, and cream of tartar. Mix equal parts of each into a spreadable paste. Apply to the stain for 2-3 hours, then scrub clean with a soft brush. The citric acid helps dissolve rust while the abrasives provide scrubbing action.
What should you not use to remove rust from quartz?
Avoid bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alkaline cleaners like ammonia, and anything acidic like vinegar. These can damage, corrode, or etch the quartz surface. Also avoid abrasive pads, steel wool, or metal brushes which could scratch.
Does CLR work to remove rust from quartz countertops?
CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust remover) is generally not recommended for quartz. It contains lactic and gluconic acids which can damage or etch the quartz. For tough rust stains, stick to oxalic or phosphoric acid-based removers specifically designed for stone and quartz.
Will rubbing alcohol remove rust stains from quartz?
Rubbing alcohol may lighten or reduce some rust staining, but it is not strong enough to fully remove set-in rust stains from quartz. An oxalic or phosphoric acid-based rust remover works better to break down and dissolve the rust so it can be wiped away.
How can I prevent rust stains on my quartz countertop?
- Immediately wipe up spills, especially from acidic foods like wine or tomato sauce.
- Don’t leave wet metal objects sitting on the quartz. Dry thoroughly after use.
- Use coasters under bottles, vases and potted plants.
- Avoid leaving steel wool pads, iron scrub brushes or cast iron cookware on the surface.
- Install a water filter if your supply has high iron content.
- Reseal and polish the quartz annually for protection.
- Apply wax paste regularly to seal the surface.
Removing Rust Stains from Quartz Countertops – Conclusion
Rust stains can be frustrating, but with oxalic or phosphoric acid-based rust removers, some scrubbing, and a bit of patience, you can get your quartz countertops looking clean and beautiful again. Just be sure to follow product instructions carefully and thoroughly rinse the surface afterwards.
Prevent future stains by promptly drying spills and metal items, using coasters, and keeping iron away from the quartz. With proper care, your quartz countertops will stay looking their best for many years to come.