What are some cleaning tips for chrome surfaces?


Quick Answer

Cleaning chrome surfaces generally requires a cleaning product, soft rag and water. Never use an abrasive cleaner on chrome, as they can easily scratch or dull the surface. Many companies produce products specifically for cleaning chrome, but vinegar, rubbing alcohol, soft metal cleaner, lemons and baby oil perform well too. Likewise, only soft materials should be used to scrub chrome to avoid scratching it. Aluminum foil, a sweatshirt or an old toothbrush work well.

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Full Answer

Chrome is a soft metal generally applied only as a light coating, so damaging it is a constant possibility. It is generally best to remove chrome components before attempting to clean them so that tricky angles are averted. The first cleaning may produce gunk that prevents the chrome from regaining its natural shine. If so, switch to a fresh rag and begin the process again, this time polishing to a shine more than bulk cleaning. Periodic spot cleans can reduce the need for massive cleaning jobs.

Steel wool may be used to polish chrome, but the material has a tendency to scratch it and it takes a lot of elbow grease to get it to work. Aluminum foil is a better alternative because it is softer than chrome (less scratches) and breaks down any rust chemically rather than relying on brute force. Scientifically, rust is made of excess oxygen atoms bound to the chrome. Aluminum attracts oxygen atoms more than chrome does, so the excess oxides "jump" on the aluminum without excessive scrubbing.

Alternatively, a lemon may be used to clean chrome. The fruit itself, cut into halves, is used as the rag, with its natural juices generally proving sufficient to polish the metal. The resulting citrus scent is also preferable to harsh smells such as vinegar or some cleaners.

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