How to Clean Metal Shelving the Right Way

Metal shelving is a great way to store things.  It is sturdy and strong, meaning it can hold a lot of items and keep your area neat and organized.

However, depending on what you are storing on your shelves, there can be spills and other dirt and grime.  Of course, you want to clean your metal shelves, whether it’s at home or in an industrial setting, on a regular basis.

What You’ll Need

*You have several options for what cleaner to use on your metal shelving.  They are:

The best option to clean metal shelving is using a vinegar solution.  It is easy to find, does not contain chemicals, and does a great job of getting the shine back on your metal shelving.

metal shelf


  1. Remove all the items on your shelf.  Make sure to do so safely, not carrying more than you can reasonably handle.
  2. When cleaning, start at the top shelf and work your way down so that any dust and debris is going to fall on the shelves that have not been cleaned yet.  You certainly do not want to do the same shelf more than once!
  3. Dust the shelf with a soft cloth or Swiffer duster to remove loose dust.
  4. Use your selected cleaner (see above) and wipe down the shelf with a soft cloth and your cleaner.  DO NOT USE STEEL WOOL.  That will damage and scratch your shelves.
  5. Rinse if necessary. Do not use too much water – you do not want your shelves to rust.
  6. Dry with a soft cloth.
  7. Repeat with the remaining shelves.

What about wire shelving?

Wire shelving is a bit more difficult to clean than a straight shelf.  There are little nooks and crannies to clean; it can be a bit of a pain.

You should use citrus-based cleaner to remove sticky messes.  Wipe the shelves down with a dry paper towel or a soft cloth to remove dry dirt.

Pour a little vinegar onto a damp sponge and wipe down the entire shelf for a more thorough cleaning. Dry with paper towel.

metal shelving

What if your metal shelving is already rusted?

Metal shelving is chosen because it is sturdy.  However, that doesn’t mean that it can withstand anything.

When water and iron come together, rust can form.  Left untreated, it can destroy your metal shelving.

Luckily, it is not difficult to clean and does not take a lot of time.


  1. Use sandpaper to brush away loose rust.
  2. Sprinkle coarse salt on the rust.
  3. Mix equal parts lemon juice and white vinegar. Pour the mixture over the salt.
  4. Allow the solution to sit on the rusted area for five to seven minutes and then wipe away with a dry towel.
  5. Rinse the area and dry again to remove moisture.
Whether your metal shelving has collected dust, has become very dirty, or has rusted, with a little bit of hard work and basic tools, you can get the shine back on your metal shelving.
For some though, finding the time to keep metal shelving clean can be difficult.  A professional cleaning service can easily add that to their list of duties so that you have one more thing off your to-do list.