How to Clean Rust Stains

rust1 When iron starts to corrode, it forms rust, a substance that often causes unsightly brownish stains. If you accidentally brush up against a rusty surface, you’ll be rewarded with a serious laundry stain. There are 2 methods of how to clean rust stains.


Chemically, acids are the preferred way to remove rust stains. Believe it or not lemon juice (citric acid), or the “stronger” white vinegar (acetic acid) are mild ACIDS which may resolve the problem. In the corner of an affected area, I would test both acids to determine which one is most effective. With a clean sponge side of a white, nylon scrub pad backed sponge, apply the acid to the area. Agitate with the scrub pad side. Oxidation is actually the reason for the rust stains. Rinse thoroughly afterwards and blot dry.

If the rusty stain is on clothes, you can try to use a waterless hand cleaner like Goop or DL. Just work it into the spot, then wash it. I advice you first test an inconspicuous spot first to make sure it doesn’t fade the fabric. This is a thing that you have to test for colour-fastness always. Also you should know that certain stains are permanent.

Balham cleaners gave me a few advice about how to clean certain items.


To remove rust stains from carpet (synthetic and wool)

  • Apply lemon juice and salt to the stain.

  • Flush with water and blot well.

If any stain remains, try the following steps:

  • rust2

    Test a fabric-safe rust remover, such as Bar keepers Friend Cleanser and Polish; if the fabric is not damaged, apply according to label directions.

  • Flush thoroughly with water; blot excess liquid.

  • Allow to dry.

Ceramic or Porcelain:

Follow these steps to remove iron and rust stains from Ceramic Tile, Porcelain Dishes, or Porcelain Fixtures.

  • On the tub, sink, ceramic tile, or toilet, wet a pumice bar, and rub the iron stain. Do not use this pumice stick on the ceramic glass found on cookware or ceramic cook tops, as it will scratch the surface.

  • A paste of borax and lemon juice also is effective on iron stains.

  • Rub the paste into the stain and allow it to dry.

  • Rinse with clear water, then repeat if necessary.

  • Dry with a clean cloth.

Cotton or Linen:

Follow these steps to remove rust stains from Cotton or Linen:

  • Rub liquid dish-washing or laundry detergent into stain.

  • Rinse with water, then launder as soon as possible.

  • If stains remains, test fabric for colour-fastness, then use a fabric-safe rust remover, such as Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser and Polish, according to package directions.

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