How To Remove Rust Stains
Rusty iron stains have been a real problem with laundry since man began wearing coverings of woven fabric rather than animal skins. That is, they were problems when man began wanting to wear clean garments rather than old, dirty, and greasy moth-eaten clothes.
You’d think rust stains would not be such a problem in today’s world where technology surpasses itself every day. Scientists came up with cookware that food won’t stick to, can’t they come up with clothing that is not just stain resistant but stain proof?
Case in point, just before I sat down to write this help on removing rust stains from clothing, I received a call from daughter #2. “Mom, the rust stains are coming back in my toilet. How can it get them out?”
Like me, my daughter’s water comes from a well. We both have filtration systems that eliminate a lot of the unwanted minerals and hardness from our household water but some stains will build up after time.
In the case of the toilet bowl stains, I use a very handy gadget made by Shaw’s Pads called a Toilet Ring Remover. It has a soft spongy pad laminated to a rough net material that could rub a hole in concrete! Well, maybe not, but it sure cuts through the grimy, rusty mineral scale that plagues toilet bowls. Best part is, for the environmentally conscious folks, you do not need to use any abrasive or toxic cleaners. My toilet ring remover has a short handle and the pad is attached to that. You just use elbow grease with short hard strokes and you can quickly flush the scale away.
Rusty Spots On Garage or Concrete Floors:
Garage floors are stain attractors – from mud and grime, to oil and grease, to rust and who knows what else. Normal mud and grime, loose leaves, etc., can all be swept up easily the concrete floor can even be scrubbed. Unfortunately, grease, oil and rust must be treated differently to remove them from the concrete.
Here’s a tip for removing rust stains from concrete that you’ll view with a skeptical eye … but give it a try anyway. After all, as they say, what have you got to lose?
If you don’t already have it on your kitchen shelf, buy a package of unsweetened lemonade Kool-Aid. Buy enough to make 2 quarts, then boil a half gallon of water on the stove, and mix in the package of Kool-Aid.
Pour the mixture on the rusty stained concrete and then scrub with a stiff-bristled brush. Keep at it until the stain comes off. You may need to flush the area with clean water in a clean sponge, and repeat the Kool-Aid solution and scrubbing a few more times. Unless the stain has been on the concrete for a long, long time, it should come out.
Rusty Stains and Spots On Fabric:
The most common problems with rusty iron stains are the spots that appear out of no where – especially when the man of the house has been busy in the garage, working on the car, or lawn tools. Guys are rust stain magnets.
Too often, you don’t see the stain on the white or light colored t-shirt until after it’s been laundered and then dried in the dryer. While the dryer heat may set the stain over time, it’s usually not such a calamity that it can’t be removed.
While you’re usually more successful at removing rust stains immediately after they show up, this will also work on stains that have been around for a while.
- Moisten a clean household sponge with full-strength (right out of the bottle) white vinegar and thoroughly wet the stain. (You may even fill the cap from the vinegar bottle with vinegar and pour it directly on the stain.)
- Grab your salt shaker and sprinkle a healthy dose of salt on the vinegar. Then rub it in to the stain.
- If the sun is shining brightly outside, lay the vinegar/salt soaked garment in the sun and let the sun help draw the stain out. If it isn’t sunny, allow the vinegar/salt to air dry on the garment.
- Now toss it into the washer and wash according to manufacturer’s directions for the fabric.
Treating Rust Stains On Laundry
If you have a whole batch of laundry (towels, wash cloths, dish towels, linens, underwear, t-shirts, etc.) that all suffers the blight of yellowing or rusty iron stains, try a home remedy first before resorting to commercial preparations.
Use a five gallon bucket and pour in a gallon of white vinegar with 2-3 gallons of hot water. Add two cups of salt and mix thoroughly. (You’ll want to set this bucket of vinegar either out on in the back yard or in the garage because it will smell pretty vinegary!) Then put the clothing in by batches – 4-5 t-shirts, dishtowels with wash cloths – use your own judgment. Just be sure there’s enough solution to thoroughly soak all of the stained items.
Allow the garments or fabrics to “brew” in the vinegar solution overnight. Then drain and launder according to manufacturer’s recommendations for the fabrics.
Commercial Rust Stain Removers:
There are a number great products on the market to remove iron and rust stains. One of my particular favorites that works in toilet bowls, sinks and colorfast fabrics is called “Rust Stain Magic.” It’s available at most grocery stores. Be sure to follow the directions explicitly and avoid contact with skin. That’s one of the down sides in using commercial products because they are not very kind or forgiving to skin and some fabrics.
Another product that works very well for loads of laundry (white sheets, towels, pillow cases, white shirts, blouses, etc.) is “Yellow Out”. It advertises that it makes your dingy whites bright and it does. It removes yellowing, and iron rust stains from whites.
Again, if you buy a commercial preparation to remove iron stains from your clothing, be sure to follow the directions to the “T”. These products contain lots of harsh chemicals and acids. Always use them in well ventilated areas and avoid breathing the fumes.