How to remove rust stains

Rust in your car or on your outdoor furniture is a pain, but when that stain seeps on to clothes or furniture, it’s a shocker. Rust stains don’t respond to usual stain treatments, so here’s how you can get that red stain out of your clothes and furnishings.

How to remove rust stains from clothing and washable fabrics

If you’ve got rust on clothing it can be removed with either white vinegar or lemon juice.

  • Lay the clothing or fabric out on an old towel and pour a small amount of white vinegar directly on the stain – or rub a cut lemon half on the stain.
  • Saturate it thoroughly, then blot it with a clean white towel.
  • Lay outside in the sunshine until the stain starts to fade, then launder as usual.
  • More extensive or stubborn stains benefit from a dose of commercial rust remover, found at hardware stores.

How to remove rust stains from non-washable fabrics

If non-washable fabrics have been affected by rust, you have two options: take it to a professional cleaner, or try the following method:

  • Combine lemon juice and salt into a thick mixture. Test in an inconspicuous area, and if the fabric reacts well then you can treat.
  • Apply the mixture to the stain and place in the sun.
  • Moisten regularly with lemon juice until the stain disappears.
  • Brush off residual salt.

How to remove rust stains from carpet or furnishings

If you have metal furniture chances are you’ve experienced rust stains on the carpet when you’ve tried to move furniture around. Don’t stress, here’s how to remove those pesky rust stains with ease.

  • Soak a cloth in white vinegar and wring out.
  • Sprinkle the rust stain with salt, and then lay the vinegar-soaked cloth over the top.
  • Leave for 30 minutes before checking the stain.
  • Reapply a clean cloth and repeat process until stain has disappeared.
  • Leave to dry and then vacuum up any remaining salt.
  • If stain is stubborn, repeat these steps or attempt to remove stain using a commercial rust remover.
  • If the rust stain is around the drain on a porcelain sink or on a stainless steel draining board, the solution is still the same – use lemon, vinegar or salt to remove it.
  • Don’t use chlorine bleach, as this is an oxidising agent that will oxidate the rust even more!

Stain remover notes

  • The quicker you deal with a stain, the more likely you are to remove it.
  • Unless it’s a fat stain, cold water is best for rinsing a stain, so as not to set it and make it harder to remove later.
  • Before using a cleaning solution, test on an inconspicuous section, such as the inside of a sleeve, to check it won’t ruin the fabric.
  • Always rinse out one cleaning solution before trying another to remove a stain as certain chemicals are not supposed to be mixed.
  • Read the care instructions on the item of clothing before attempting vigorous stain removal. Some clothing may be too delicate to attempt stain removal and are better taken straight to the drycleaners.
  • Don’t rub fabric harshly to remove stains as this can abrade fibres and cause fading.
  • The white towel blotting method is often recommended for stain removal. Simply fold a clean white towel and, once you have treated the stain with water, gently dab it with the towel and check to see how much of the stain has transferred to the white towel.
  • If using commercial stain removers and detergents, always follow the product label to understand the proper use and safety precautions you may need to take.
  • It’s always easier to treat a stain on a washable fabric.

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