It’s not uncommon for dishwasher racks to begin rusting after years of use. The dark, wet environment offers the perfect breeding grounds for rust. Unfortunately, this can reduce the dishwasher’s effectiveness while tainting your dishes with small particles of rust. Unless you want to pick rust off your plates and dishes, you should take some additional steps to preserve your dishwasher racks.
Most modern-day dishwasher racks are made of metal, such as steel, and feature a synthetic vinyl coating. This synthetic coating serves two main purposes, the first of which is to protect the dishes. If a dishwasher contained racks made strictly of metal and no vinyl coating, dishes would likely scratch or even break.
The vinyl coating also protects the dishwasher racks from rusting. Without this coating in place, the metal racks would be directly exposed to moisture, at which point rust would settle in and begin eating through the metal. Rust forms when metal is exposed to water, so you want to keep the vinyl coating intact to prevent this form happening.
Nine out of ten times, rusting on dishwasher racks occurs when the vinyl coating is nicked. Even if it’s just a small hairline nick, the exposed metal surface will encourage the formation of rust and corrosion. Rust typically begins with a small, nearly invisible copper-colored patch, but it can quickly spread and grow out of control if left untreated.
The first step in protecting your dishwasher racks from rust is to use gently load your dishes. Far too many people try to load their dishwashers as fast as they physically can, paying little-to-no attention to its capacity, how the dishes are arranged, and whether or not dishes are touching the racks. Ideally, you want to keep sharp knifes, forks, and other dishes away from the racks.
If you happen to notice rust forming on one or more of your dishwasher racks, you might be able to repair it using a kit. Dishwasher manufacturers sell repair kits designed specifically for this reason, and using one is a more affordable alternative to purchasing a brand new rack. Another option is to clean the rusted portion of your dishwasher rack and apply a small amount of liquid electrical tape to the affected area. Since it’s designed to withstand heat and moisture, you don’t have to worry about it falling off in the dishwasher.