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How To Clean Discolored Chrome Faucets

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may receive a small commission for made purchases.

There are many different types of finishes for faucets out there, and there’s a style for everyone.

Nickel has always been a classic finish for most homes, but chrome has become an increasingly popular choice because it looks great and it is super easy to maintain.

The only downside to having chrome faucets is that over time a soft metal like chrome will begin to oxidize and you’ll find where it once had a beautiful and lustrous finish, it has turned into a gloomy, discolored mess. 

Discoloration, also known as tarnish, is a thin layer of corrosion that hasn’t yet penetrated the surface, which is where it differs from rust.

This means that the chrome is still savable and it can easily be restored to its original state with a deep cleaning.

All it takes is the right cleaning products and a little bit of hard work on your part. 

What Cleans Chrome The Best?

You may be thinking that the best cleaner for chrome will be the most expensive one, but that’s where you’re wrong.

You can go to your local store and simply buy an inexpensive cleaner which will get the job done, however, that may not be necessary, with a few items you’ll most likely have sitting around in your house you can make a dazzling homemade chrome cleaner that’ll leave your faucets looking better than the day you got them! 

Now, you may be wondering if vinegar will damage the chrome fixtures, but the answer is that white vinegar is one of the most gentle abrasive cleaners for discoloration removal.

Here is a simple recipe to get your chrome faucets sparkling again: 

  • Mix 1:1 parts white vinegar and water
  • Use baking soda to help scrub the discoloration

How Do You Get Rid Of Oxidation From Chrome?

Metal oxide (metal sulfide) can be left behind on the chrome due to a chemical reaction between the chrome and nonmetal compounds (air and moisture).

This is a product of oxidation, for example, if you’ve ever had silver cutlery that has become discolored, tarnish is your culprit. 

An abrasive agent is needed to restore the luster of a tarnished faucet.

The method stated above using baking soda and vinegar will usually get the job done, but if it doesn’t, here are some other different agents used to remove tarnish. 

Popular Alternative Agents To Remove Tarnish

  • Lemon- The powerful citric acid found within lemons acts as a strong abrasive agent. 
  • Glass cleaner- It is good for getting rid of light discoloration and small blemishes on the chrome faucet. 
  • WD-40- As it was made for industrial use, it has the strength of removing any tough discoloration without damaging the fixture. 
  • Any chemical cleaners- These should be used as a last resort for stubborn tarnishes that won’t budge due to their toxicity, they use oxalic or phosphoric acid to get rid of the toughest stains, which make them handy if you’re struggling to remove the tarnish.

*Do not use bleach at all costs, as it can destroy metals.

How Can I Make My Faucets Glisten Again?

There will be a few methods listed below, and the one you use will depend on how badly your faucet is discolored.

How To Clean Discolored Chrome Faucets (1)

Light discoloration takes some gentle wiping and maybe the help of a non-toxic cleaning solution.

Follow these steps below to remove discoloration from your chrome faucet.

What You’ll Need

  • Warm water
  • Soft cloth
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • A toothbrush (or any brush with bristles)
  • Silver polish 


  1. Start off with a light, easy cleaning and use warm water and soap to thoroughly clean the faucet.
  2. Make the vinegar solution we mentioned earlier, 1:1 parts solution of water and vinegar.
  3. Lightly sprinkle some baking soda on the chrome.
  4. Leave the solution on the faucet for no longer than 15 minutes.
  5. Start scrubbing the faucet and make sure to get into all the crevices.
  6. Finally, use water to rinse the faucet and use chrome polish to have a squeaky clean shine. 

Stubborn Stains That Just Won’t Go

If you’ve tried the method above and are having no luck and are dealing with a heavily discolored faucet, then you may have to turn to harsh abrasives and toxic chemicals.

We’ve compiled some tips to help you take on the most persistent of stains. 

Some Other Ways To Get Those Persistent Stains Off

If you’re struggling with the solution being not abrasive enough, then use a more acidic solution.

Try using a 3:1 ratio of white vinegar to water, or you could even use the acidity of a lemon to help. 

Try letting the solution sit longer than 15 minutes, or try soaking a cloth in the solution and laying it over the faucet.

This will help to loosen the tarnish so it can be removed with ease. 

Using a harsher scrubbing agent such as a green scouring pad may help in easing those stains off. Or you could try using more baking soda or salt for a heavier paste. 

If all these methods have failed you and you’re still left with discolored faucets, then you may be inclined to use a chemical cleaner. Just ensure you have thoroughly read the instructions before use as each cleaner will differ.

Be aware, most chemical cleaners will need to sit on the chrome for several hours before you start scrubbing them off.

author avatar
Anthony Barnes
Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age


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