How to Repair a Rusted Steel Tub Drain

Steel tub drains are recognized for their durability, resistance and longevity. They, however, are not impervious to deterioration. Exposure to water, carbon dioxide and oxygen causes scratched or damaged steel tub drains to eventually rust. Rust starts as small reddish-brown specks and gradually spreads through metal until objects and surfaces are completely marred. Promptly eliminate rust to preserve the drain's structural integrity and shiny appearance. Repair a rusted steel tub drain using basic supplies and techniques.

Rust can ruin a steel tub drain's aesthetic appeal.
  1. Spray all-purpose nonabrasive household cleaner onto the drain. Follow the manufacturer's directions.

  2. Wipe the steel surfaces with a microfiber cloth to remove grime particles. Frequently rinse the cloth with fresh warm water to avoid reapplying abrasive particles to the steel.

  3. Turn on the tub faucet to flush the drain with water.

  4. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of salt onto the drain. Pour 3 tbsp. of lime juice directly onto the salt. Only use enough lime juice to slightly dampen the salt.

  5. Keep the salt and lime juice mixture on the drain for two hours.

  6. Scrub the drain with a clean toothbrush to remove the rust. Frequently rinse the toothbrush with fresh warm water to prevent reapplying grime to the drain.

  7. Turn on the tub faucet to rinse the drain with water. Wash the salt and lime mixture down the drain.

  8. Inspect the drain for remaining rust. If stubborn rust persists, apply naval jelly to the drain using a clean rag. Follow the instructions provided on the product's label. Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses for protection.

  9. Keep the navel jelly on the drain for 30 minutes to completely dissolve the remaining rust.

  10. Rinse the drain with water from the faucet.

  11. Wipe the drain with a clean terrycloth towel until completely dry.


  • Steel wool and abrasive cleaners can scratch steel drains and initiate rust.
  • Rust will return if any specks are left remaining on the drain.

About the Author

April Dowling first started writing in high school and has written many news articles for newspaper and yearbook publications. She is currently pursuing a career as an online writer and affiliate marketer. Dowling writes for several websites and keeps many blogs.