How to Treat Rust in a Dishwasher Rack

Maria Scinto

Dishwashers are great inventions. You just load them up with dishes, add some soap powder, flip a switch, and voila! Clean dishes. The machine itself can take quite a beating, though, and one of the occupational hazards it faces is rust, due to the fact that it's constantly wet.

Keep your dishwasher racks smooth-sliding and rust-free

When your dishwasher rack starts to show a little rust, however, there are steps you can take to keep the rust from spreading. You'll want to do this quickly--if your dishwasher rack gets so rusty it needs to be replaced, it may cost you upwards of $100, but you should be able to fix it yourself for under $20.

  1. Sand any rust spots off your dishwasher rack as soon as you notice them. You may use fine sandpaper to do this with, and finish it off with steel wool.

  2. Use a rust neutralizer or converter product to keep the rust from spreading any further. Rust neutralizers usually contain phosphoric or tannic acid, which halt the corrosive process so the metal part can be painted over.

  3. Buy a bottle of dishwasher rack touch-up paint from a hardware store or online. This vinyl paint usually comes in a small bottle and can be painted on like nail polish--a little goes a long way, and different colors are available so you should be able to find one to match your rack.

  4. Replace any rusted tines with rubber repair tips. These are often sold in kits along with the rack touch-up paint, and also come in different colors to match the paint scheme.


Do not just re-paint and replace tine tips without first sanding and neutralizing the rust! If you skip Steps 1 and 2, the corrosion process will continue underneath the new paint and rubber tips.