How to clean all the crannies of my rusty can opener?
October 7, 2007 3:27 PM   Subscribe

How can I clean a rusty can opener?

I left my can opener in the sink and it got all gross and rusty. All the little bits that are hard to reach with normal cleaning implements are filled with nasty.

The best thing that Google gave me is that Pepsi probably doesn't work. Should I....boil it in something?
posted by lemuria to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
You can use a diluted vinegar solution, and simmer the opener in it (assuming it's all metal).

Or, go the other way pH-wise, and use a baking soda paste or solution.

You can try a toothbrush to get at the nooks and crannies.
posted by chengjih at 3:49 PM on October 7, 2007

Bon Ami might be your friend. I'm fond of it as a non-toxic, non-scratching kitchen clean-and-polish product. Indeed, they cite can opener cleaning as an application. And yes, an old toothbrush is your tool of choice.
posted by mumkin at 3:57 PM on October 7, 2007

If it's rusty, you can spray it down with WD40 and take a wire brush to it (it's like a toothbrush but with copper/brass bristles instead of plastic). Wash well afterwards with detergent and lots of water.
posted by porpoise at 4:20 PM on October 7, 2007

white vinegar will dissolve surface rust pretty well,though it can take a while (from a few hours to a few days).Just fill up a container and let the can opener soak in it, shaking once in a while (every couple hours is more than enough). Scrubbing with a wire or hard bristle brush will help was well, so can cleaning with steel wool (in a pinch, brillo pads will work).
posted by alikins at 5:10 PM on October 7, 2007

Spray with 409 or the like. Wipe all you can, then crumple up a paper towel, put it between the teeth and crank the handle until the paper passes through. If a lot of gunk comes off, do another pass.
posted by O9scar at 6:02 PM on October 7, 2007

Rust remover comparison chart.

I've used Magica rust remover on rust stains in laundry, and have heard it works for any rust removal application. It seems fairly non-toxic.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:53 PM on October 7, 2007

Wax paper does wonders for can openers too, fold it up a few times and crank it good...
posted by pupdog at 6:57 PM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I'm going to try letting it sit in vinegar first. (I guess I need to buy some white vinegar...balsamic doesn't seem like a good idea.)
posted by lemuria at 7:46 PM on October 7, 2007

Go to dollar store.

Buy new can opener.

Throw old can opener away.

Voila! Non-rusty can opener that costs less than some of these solutions.
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:18 PM on October 7, 2007

My chemistry is a little rusty (sorry, couldn't resist) but my understanding was that weak -- which is to say, mostly water -- acid solutions will actually make metals rust faster; it's only very strong acid solutions that will dissolve the rust and leave the rest of the metal intact. Can anyone confirm or deny?

I just think that there's a good chance that by putting a half-rusty part into vinegar (a weak acid), what you may get out is a completely rusted part...

Maybe the best option is to experiment first on a nail or some other object first? (Steel soup / cat food cans rust fairly quickly.)

A page on how to rust metals suggests that dilute acids are just great for accelerating rust...
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:51 PM on October 7, 2007

A guy I know uses something called Armorphos acid to treat the rust on his car.
posted by Solomon at 1:34 AM on October 8, 2007

Emery cloth.
posted by bricoleur at 4:22 AM on October 8, 2007

I would go with Innocent Bystander's solution but also suggest switching to a "safety lid can opener" (google on that) which cuts around the edge instead of through the top, thus avoiding contact with food. The SLCO's stay clean without special effort. I would feel uncomfortable using wd-40 or other toxic ingredients even if cleaned thoroughly.
posted by Kevin S at 4:26 AM on October 8, 2007

I've found baking soda works better than vinegar solutions. Dust it heavily tonight while it's wet, leave it overnight. You're looking for a moist paste covering the rust spots. If you have a wire brush or steel wool that will take off the rust a lot faster than a toothbrush. You'll probably only get off the brown rust, leaving gray shadows behind if it was deeply scarred. YMMV.
posted by joemax at 9:57 AM on October 8, 2007

Kadin2048: in my experience, it's both actually. Letting something soak in vinegar will dissolve lots of the rust, but it can also make the part flash rust quickly once exposed to air if the vinegar is not cleaned off completely.
posted by alikins at 12:55 PM on October 8, 2007

Response by poster: Several days in vinegar and a toothbrush did it. Thanks!
posted by lemuria at 5:22 PM on October 11, 2007

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