How to Remove Rust Stains [9 Easy Ways]

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Have you ever left stainless steel utensils in your sink overnight? Have you ever accidentally forgotten to bring your gardening tools inside before a rainstorm? Have you ever spotted dark or orange stains on the drains in your tub or shower?

If so, you already know just how frustrating it is to discover rust and just how impossible it can be to clean. Rust can form easily on metal objects or metal surfaces in and around your home, but the good news is that there are some easy ways to clean it!

With a little elbow grease and the use of a few common household items, you can get rid of rust in a matter of minutes.

Ready to learn how to remove rust stains?

Here are nine different ways and DIY hacks to try when removing rust stains from your clothes, metal items around the house, bathtubs and more. 

Related: How to Pay for Costly Home Repairs [Without Going Broke]

How Does Rust Form?

Rust is an iron oxide, and it forms when certain metals are exposed to moisture and oxygen for an extended period of time. Technically, the only metals that can rust are iron and steel, but other types of metals can corrode, creating a similar dark, rusty look and feel.

Anytime you leave metal exposed to water and air, you’re creating the perfect conditions in which shiny silver finishes can turn dark and rusty in color. But all hope is not lost! Rust can be removed from all sorts of objects, and it’s not that hard to get rid of.

Of course it’s always better to prevent it from forming in the first place, which you can do by drying metal objects before that nasty rust has a chance to settle in!   

How to Remove Rust Stains From Clothing

Technically, rust only forms on steel and iron, so you’ll never have to worry about rust forming on your favorite jeans or brand new cashmere sweater. But you can stain clothing with rust if you drop a rusty object on yourself or accidentally brush up against one.

Washing rusty clothing with chlorine bleach and throwing it in the dryer will only help the stain set in even more. That can ruin your garment forever!

Instead, try these two ways to remove rust from clothing. You can also use these methods to clean carpets and upholstery that might suffer the same fate. 

1. Lemon Juice and Salt

When used together, lemon juice and salt are a powerful combination! First, sprinkle some table salt on the rust stain. Then, squeeze lemon juice onto the salt. Let it sit until the lemon juice dries and then rinse it off. You can speed up the drying process by putting your garment out in the sun to dry. This method works best on white and lightly-colored clothing, as lemon juice sometimes causes discoloration when used with darker garments.   

2. Hydrogen Peroxide Paste

For more stubborn rust stains that develop on clothing, turn a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of cream of tartar and a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into a thick paste. Spread the paste over the stain, let it sit for about half an hour and then rinse it out. The next step is to wash the garment according to the care instructions on the label.

If you see any remnants of the stain when you remove the garment from the washer, repeat these steps. For best results, hang dry or air dry your garment so as to not set the stain in even more.

How to Remove Rust Stains From Concrete

Metal flower pots out on your deck… 

The propane tank tucked under your patio grill… 

The legs of your metal deck chairs…

Lift them up and there’s a good chance you have a round rust stain underneath at least one of these surfaces. Luckily, you can remove rust stains from concrete in a variety of ways.

3. White Vinegar

White vinegar is a great cleaning agent, and it works well on outdoor rust spots that have developed on concrete driveways, walkways, garage floors and patios. First, scrub the stain with a wire brush to remove as much of the rust as possible. The next step is to rinse down the concrete to get rid of any grease or dirt.

Once your concrete is primed and prepped, pour a generous amount of white vinegar over the stain and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. After 15 minutes have gone by, scrub the stain again with a wire brush. Rinse your concrete surface with water and the stain should disappear!

4. Rust Remover With Oxalic Acid

There are all sorts of commercial rust removers available at Lowe’s, Home Depot, local hardware stores and Amazon. If you’re looking for an all-natural cleaning agent, these aren’t for you. But if you do decide to go with a heavy-duty cleaner, make sure it contains oxalic acid.

Products such as Iron Out Liquid Rust Stain Remover and Goof Off RustAid are perfect for use on outdoor concrete surfaces.  

Related: How To Clean Your Oven [And Always Keep It Clean]

How to Remove Rust Stains From Stainless Steel

Stainless steel sinks, appliances, utensils, frying pans and kitchen gadgets can easily corrode with rust, especially if they’re not completely dried upon washing and cleaning. And even when you do think you’ve dried them fully, rust often forms in those little crevices around handles… 

So annoying! But if you want to keep your kitchen tools looking their absolute best, here are some ways to clean rust from stainless steel objects in your kitchen.

5. Baking Soda

Baking soda is abrasive yet natural, making it the perfect way to clean all sorts of ugly rust spots, both big and small. Combine one tablespoon of baking soda with two cups of water and mix it into a paste. Rub the paste onto the rust spot using a clean, soft cloth. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, and then grab a soft-bristle brush and start scrubbing.

With a little bit of elbow grease, the rust should disappear. When you’re done, rinse and dry the item thoroughly to prevent more rust from forming.

6. Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar isn’t just for making meringue and whipped cream. When combined with lemon juice, cream of tartar can also remove rust. Combine a tablespoon of cream of tartar with a few drops of lemon juice and mix it into a paste. Rub the paste onto the stained area and then scrub it gently with a soft, damp sponge. Once the rust spots are gone, wipe the paste away, rinse the item and dry it with a soft rag or cloth. 

How to Remove Rust Stains in Your Bathroom

Stainless steel faucets and drains in your bathroom sink, shower and tub are prime spots for rust formation. And that’s because these areas are often wet, making them prone to moisture.

It’s best to get in the habit of drying metal bath fixtures after every shower, even though most people don’t do this regularly let alone at all. If you see rust stains forming in your bathroom, here’s how to tackle them.  

7. Pumice Stone

A pumice stone can get rid of all sorts of disgusting spots and tough stains that develop on hard surfaces, such as porcelain toilets, tubs and sinks. Pumice stones are naturally abrasive, so you should never use them on soft surfaces, like acrylic or fiberglass. They are, however, an excellent way to clean different types of hard bathroom surfaces.

Just wet the stone, scrub at the stain and rinse it off. Stubborn stains might require a bit of elbow grease, but if you tackle stains as soon as you spot them, the removal process is super easy to do. 

8. Powdered Cleansers

Powdered cleansers, such as bleach-free Bar Keepers Friend and bleach-based Comet Cleanser, are highly effective on rust stains. Powdered cleaners are abrasive, so when applied via a wet sponge, you can remove all sorts of stains, including rust, mildew, soap scum and other nasties that easily form on bathroom surfaces.

When using a powdered cleanser with bleach, make sure you open a window. Powdered cleansers with bleach often have a strong odor, so you’ll definitely need ventilation!

Related: How To Season And Clean A Cast Iron Skillet [Complete Guide]

How to Remove Rust Stains From Your Car

The older your vehicle, the more likely it is to develop rust. Severe rust spots on your car can actually eat away at the metal and expose internal car parts to the natural elements, which is never a good thing.

There’s not a whole lot you can do to remove massive, stubborn rust stains from a decades-old car that has been in the rain for years, as you’ll need an auto body pro for that. But at the first sign of a few small rust spots, you can make them disappear on your own… And you might already have what you need in your fridge.

9. Coca-Cola

Believe it or not, Coca-Cola is a rust stain remover that is safe for use on cars. Since it’s carbonated and also contains both citric acid and phosphoric acid, Coca-Cola makes an effective rust remover, particularly for rust that has accumulated on chrome. 

The carbonation, paired with the other ingredients, works to break up the metal oxides in rust rather quickly. To clean rust spots with Coke, just add a small amount of soda to a sponge and start scrubbing at the rusted area. 

Make sure you use a soft sponge so that you don’t leave scratches on the metal. Keep a few clean rags on hand as well. Coke is rather sticky, so you’ll need some clean cloths to wipe it off when you’re finished.

What Are the Best Ways to Remove Rust?

There are all sorts of stain removal techniques that you can use on rust, but certain products are best used on specific surfaces. When removing rust, commercial rust removers do often work, but if you’re looking for something more natural or you need a cleaner that you can whip up immediately at home, open your fridge or your pantry. There’s a good chance your kitchen already has what you need to remove rust, no matter what surface it is on!

You might also be interested in: How To Use Baking Soda As Carpet Cleaner And Deodorizer

How To Remove Rust Stains [9 Ways]:

  1. Lemon Juice and Salt 
  2. Hydrogen Peroxide Paste 
  3. White Vinegar 
  4. Rust Remover With Oxalic Acid 
  5. Baking Soda 
  6. Cream of Tartar 
  7. Pumice Stone 
  8. Powdered Cleansers 
  9. Coca-Cola

Jessica Heston

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