6 Ways to Remove Rust Stains from Clothes

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This article is part of a series on how to remove all sorts of stains from your clothes, in this case, rust. So if you want to remove other types of stains from your clothes check out the following articles:

How to Remove Ink Stains from Clothes
How to Remove Oil Stains from Clothes
How to Remove Grease Stains from Clothes
How to Remove Deodorant Stains from Clothes
How to Remove Coffee Stains from Clothes
How to Remove Blood Stains from Clothes

1. Causes of Rust Stains

Rust is one of the worst types of stains you can encounter on your clothes. It may seem impossible to get out at first, but don’t worry, there are still some tricks to try if the usual methods don’t seem to work. If you don’t take care of rust stains on your clothes, you might realize that some marks are permanent.

While some stains can have a rust color, which is often the case with caramelized sugar, it’s important to understand the cause of your real rust stain. It may seem obvious that the source of your rust stain comes from metal corrosion which can be found on various objects such as furniture pieces or cars.

Sometimes you might realize that rust stains don’t have a clear source. In that case, you will probably have to check the pipes or water heaters for rusty signs. The water source itself can cause rust discolorations if it’s full of iron and that can be noticed on other items as well, such as bathroom fixtures.

2. Treating Rust Stains

Just as a precaution, try to avoid rubbing the stain as you risk to set it harder into the fabric. There are multiple methods for tackling rust stains, some of them relying on commercial products, while there are also some techniques involving natural products. You could try the simpler methods before moving on to stronger chemicals.

3. Lemon Juice and Salt

This is a winning combination for eliminating rust stains in a natural style. Add some salt to the stained area and then squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top of it. Let it sit in the sun to dry completely. This is a fairly mild treatment so your garment should be fine as opposed to using toxic chemicals.

Delicate fabrics such as wool, suede, and silk will not really benefit from this treatment. In this case, it’s best to take the clothes to a professional cleaning service. If you don’t have lemon juice available, you can also substitute it with vinegar.

Make sure you don’t leave the garment to dry for too long in the sun. Three hours should be the maximum limit. Check it regularly to see if the stain disappears. To finish the cleaning process, rinse the shirt with cold water. It’s recommended to toss the clothing piece into the washing machine to clean it as usual, especially if it’s a white fabric which can be stained by the lemon juice.

4. Cream Tartar Paste

A great mixture with stain-fighting properties, the cream tartar paste is another recommended solution if commercial cleaners aren’t available. You will need to mix some drops of hydrogen peroxide with one teaspoon of tartar cream and another of baking soda. The resulting concoction can be used to take care of the rust-stained area. Let it do its job for a half an hour then rinse it with cold water.

5. Rhubarb Juice

A less known method to remove rust stains from clothes makes use of rhubarb juice. In a large pot, you should add plenty of water with some rhubarb stalks and boil it for approximately 20 minutes. The next step involves soaking the entire stained shirt into the pot after the stalks have been disposed of. Let the garment sit in the rhubarb juice for a couple of hours.

Rhubarb juice won’t affect the fabric and can take care of rust stains in a safer manner compared to commercial products. It doesn’t dye fabrics and the rust stain should disappear after a long enough soak. This is a recommended method if your rust stains are particularly large and hard to clean individually.

6. Commercial Rust Cleaners

When nothing seems to offer satisfying results, the last thing to try is to go for some powerful rust cleaners available on the market. While they can cost some extra money, at least you can expect to destroy even the toughest rust stains on your clothes. Make sure you follow the directions carefully to prevent any damage to the fabric.

While there are many general purpose stain removers out there that are pretty decent for rust stains, it’s recommended to get a product that’s specialized on this type of stain. Rust is harder to eliminate from clothes compared to other stains. This is why we recommend the Whink Rust Remover which can be found on Amazon. It can work well on multiple rust issues, including fabric stains.

Be careful when you use any kind of strong rust remover product as they are very toxic and can burn the skin. It’s recommended to go for powerful chemical products only when you’ve exhausted all the other options.


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