How to Remove Rust Stains With Stuff That’s Already in Your Home

How to Remove Rust Stains With Stuff That’s Already in Your Home
Photo: Knolios, Shutterstock

Rust may form on certain types of metal, but it can damage more than that. Its distinctive, deep reddish-brown colour easily transfers to other materials, resulting in stains. Unfortunately, getting rust stains out of clothing, carpet, and off of surfaces like porcelain and ceramic requires some effort. Fortunately, you (probably) already have what you need for the task at home. Here are a few ways to remove rust stains using stuff from your pantry or under your sink.

Don’t start with the washer/dryer

Even if you have a rust stain on white material, the experts at The Maids say that using bleach on the spots could make them permanent. Similarly, if you pop rust-stained clothing or material in the washing machine (without spot-treating it first) and then in the dryer, that can also set the stain. Basically, don’t put something in the washer or dryer without removing the stain by hand first.

Homemade solutions for removing rust stains

Here are a few specific rust-removing combinations and techniques using stuff you probably already have around the house:

Salt and vinegar

Best for: Carpet

Dab a clean cloth soaked in distilled white vinegar on the stain until you no longer see rust on the cloth. Then sprinkle some salt over the spot on the carpet, let it sit for 30 minutes, dab the area again with a dry cloth (to absorb any excess moisture), and vacuum up the salt.

Lemon juice and salt

Best for: Clothing/fabric and carpet

To get rust stains out of light-coloured clothing, sprinkle salt on the spot, pour lemon juice on top of that, and then lay the garment/material flat to dry. Leaving it out in the sun can make the process go faster.

To get rust stains out of carpet, mix two teaspoons of salt in a bowl with lemon juice. Then dab the stain with a clean white cloth dipped in the solution. Don’t rub it, but do firmly press the cloth/solution into the stain to ensure it penetrates through the carpet fibres. Take a five-minute break, then dab the rust stain with a clean cloth dampened with water, followed by a dry cloth.

Hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar

Best for: Ceramic or porcelain

Use a solution of one part 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed with two parts cream of tartar to remove rust stains on ceramic or porcelain sinks, tubs, and other fixtures. Apply it to the rust stains using a sponge or cloth, then let it sit for an hour or two. Next, scrub the stain using a brush with stiff bristles (although not made of something too stiff, like wire, that would scratch the surface). Finally, when the stain is gone, rinse or wipe the area.

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