The Home Staple That'll Help Prevent Rust Before It Builds Up

Nobody likes the task of scrubbing rust from metal pots and pans, but it has to be done so that your kitchenware continues to look fresh and new. However, instead of scrubbing away with all your might and potentially causing scratches, reach for tea bags to stop rust from appearing at all. Less expensive than a specific rust cleaner but extremely effective, a used tea bag can be wiped over the pot or pan you've cooked with to stop rust build-up.

The method is also incredibly easy to carry out. Once you have finished enjoying your cup of tea, simply squeeze out any excess liquid from the bag (until it isn't dripping), making sure to keep it a little damp. Then, just put it aside until you're ready to wash up. Clean the pot or pan as normal and then take the tea bag and wipe it all over the surface. Dry the pot or pan as usual. You'll want to carry out this step whenever you cook so that the rust doesn't get a chance to form.

Tea bags to the rescue

It may sound strange, but there is a reason this secret ingredient works. The tannins within tea effectively stop the metal construction of your pots and pans from oxidizing. Experts also swear by this rust-preventing method. Speaking to Ideal Home, Lily Cameron, cleaning supervisor at Fantastic Services, revealed that "the compounds in the tea will help loosen sticked-on food leftovers and grease and make the items easier to clean with only a little scrubbing. Black tea, specifically, is very effective for that and can also prevent rust from forming on your cookware." 

In a 2019 study from Progress in Organic Coatings, the effectiveness of tannins was tested against corrosion. Tannins were found to inhibit corrosion growth in aluminum, both coated and uncoated. As reiterated by Cameron, you'll want to reach for black tea bags to achieve best results. While all teas naturally contain tannins, the Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research conducted a study in 2015 that found, out of three different types of tea, black tea contained the most tannins. It was followed by oolong tea, with green tea having the least amount. 

This hack will help keep your cast iron rust-free

Basically, if you're looking to nip rust in the bud, black tea should be your go-to (and you'll get to enjoy a nice cuppa in the process). This hack is a great way to prevent rust from taking over your kitchenware, but there are a few things you should know to ensure you're carrying it out properly. Firstly, you should never leave a pan to air dry after the tea bags have been used. Once you have covered all parts of your pan with the tea bag, always thoroughly dry away any excess liquid. 

Rust forms when metal is exposed to excessive moisture, whether that's liquid that hasn't been dried off properly or humidity from a moisture-filled cupboard. Additionally, even if you carry out this hack perfectly, your pots and pans may still rust if they aren't dried and stored properly the rest of the time. Ensuring you're looking after your kitchenware is the first and best way to prevent rust and other irreversible damage.