A rusted wok is no reason to throw out the pan and start from scratch. Careful cleaning will remove the rust. You can also prevent rust from forming in the future. While a nonstick wok is not prone to rusting, a steel wok is, and it is important to properly care for it to extend its life.
Removing the Wok’s Rust
To remove the rust on a wok, use a fine steel wool pad and some dish soap to scour its surface until the section that is rusted feels smooth to the touch. Rinse the area well, and using a fine sandpaper, go over the area once more to get it really smooth. It is important to rinse the wok well under hot water to remove all the rust and residue. Because water helps create the rust, completely dry the wok, place it on a burner and heat it until hot.
Seasoning the Wok
To season the wok, coat it with about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, using a paper towel to spread it in a thin coat. Heat it slowly over a low heat until the pan is hot, but the oil is not smoking. Turn the heat off, allow the pan to cool and then spread the excess oil on its cooking surface using a paper towel. To prevent the wok from rusting in the future, do not scrub it with an abrasive material, but instead wash it in warm, soapy water and thoroughly dry it after use. Keep the wok well-oiled by applying a thin layer of oil with a paper towel before storing.
References and ResourcesChicago Tribune: How to Clean, Season Woks That Have Rusted
The Kitchn: Buy and Season a New Wok