How to Clean Galvanized Metal and Make It Shine

Published October 14, 2020
Air duct treated with hot dipped galvanizing

It's essential to know how to clean galvanized metal so you don't hurt the coating. Get a list of cleaners approved for cleaning galvanized steel, along with tips for getting it clean. Learn how to clean galvanized metal pipes, roofs, and more.

What Is Galvanized Metal?

So what is galvanized metal anyway? Well, galvanized steel is metal with a protective zinc coating that hinders rust corrosion and oxidation. It makes it last longer. However, this means that it's important to use cleaners that don't hurt the coating when cleaning galvanized metal. The American Galvanizers Association recognized several cleaners that worked for cleaning galvanized metal like Comet, bleach, Simple Green, The Rust for Must, and Stainless Steel Cleaner. It also noted that vinegar and ammonia affected the appearance of the coating.

How to Clean Galvanized Metal

One of the best and most effective ways of cleaning galvanized metal of organic matter is through good ol' soap and water.

Materials for Cleaning

  • Dish soap

  • Water

  • Bucket

  • Soft-bristle brush

  • Cloth

  • Metal polish

Step by Step Instructions for Galvanized Metal

  1. In a bucket, mix 2 gallons of water and a half cup of dish soap.

  2. Dip a bristle brush in the mixture.

  3. Use circular strokes to scrub the surface.

  4. Rinse and dry with cloth.

  5. Apply a bit of metal polish to a cloth.

  6. Rub in small circles.

  7. Wipe and enjoy that shine.

For stubborn stains, you can add Comet or Simple Green to the mix. However, it's essential to follow the instructions on the container.

Clean galvanized metal

How to Remove Rust From Galvanized Metal

When it comes to galvanized metal that has rusted, you're going to need to remove the rust and recoat the metal. Why? Because galvanized metal isn't intended to rust. The coating protects against corrosion.

Old Rusty Galvanized Iron Plate Texture

Rust Fighting Materials

Steps to Removing Rust on Galvanized Metal

  1. Clean the galvanized metal to remove any dirt and debris.

  2. Dip a wire brush in vinegar and scrape off rust areas using firm back and forth motions.

  3. Using fine sandpaper, sand off any remaining areas of rust.

  4. Use the broom to clean the area.

  5. Dampen a cloth and wipe everything down.

  6. Allow it to dry completely.

  7. Apply two or three coats of iron rich paint to galvanize the metal.

  8. Allow to dry and buff with cloth to make it shine.

    Industrial worker wearing protective mask while cleaning metal

How to Clean Galvanized Steel Before Painting

Are you planning on painting your galvanized metal? Well, then you need to prep it right first.

What You Need

How to Prep Galvanized Steel for Paint

  1. Pick your cleaner and scrub the galvanized metal with a cloth to remove dirt, residue, mold, and debris.

  2. Dry the area with a microfiber cloth or air dry. Allow the entire area of metal to dry completely.

  3. Using circular motions, gently buff away any white rust or film.

  4. Add straight white vinegar to a rag and coat the entire area of steel. The vinegar etches the coating making paint stick better.

  5. Allow it to sit for several hours.

  6. Prime and paint the steel.

How to Clean a Galvanized Metal Roof

To extend the life of your galvanized steel roof, it can be essential to clean it. And it can make it look great!

Roof Cleaning Materials

  • Cloth

  • Bristle brush

  • Bleach

  • Dish soap (Dawn for degreasing)

  • Hose

  • Gloves

Steps for Cleaning Galvanized Roof

  1. Use the hose to spray the dirt, dust, and debris off your roof.

  2. Mix 4 cups of bleach, ⅓ cup of Dawn, and three gallons of warm water.

  3. Dip the bristled brush into the mix and scrub any stains, mold, or mildew.

  4. Continue to work your way around the roof.

  5. Rinse all the cleaner away and enjoy it!

Remember, roofs can be dangerous. Therefore, if you don't feel comfortable cleaning your roof, it is better to have a professional do it.

How to Clean Galvanized Steel

Cleaning galvanized steel around your home isn't as hard as you think. However, like anything else, it can take a bit of elbow grease and ingenuity to get it clean. Once your galvanized steel surfaces are sparkling, then you can start cleaning your aluminum surfaces next and make them look equally lovely.

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How to Clean Galvanized Metal and Make It Shine