Removing Rust Stains from a Variety of Surfaces


Rust is caused by a chemical reaction of iron with water.

When iron or steel gets wet, it reacts with oxygen, causing the iron to oxidize. This oxidization begins to eat away at the iron or steel, creating the rust that causes us so many problems.

Rust can be difficult to remove, but if the right treatment is used, you’ll have success.

Rust removal is a piece of cake in my home. I don’t see it happen much, but when I do, I zap it the moment I see it—which also makes it easier to remove.

There are various ingredients you can use to make your rust stain removers. Some of them are items you probably already have in the house.

Removing Rust Stains with a Baking Soda Paste

Make a paste with baking soda and water; apply and rub the mix over the entire rusty surface. If the rusty surface has a grain to it, make sure you rub with the grain to avoid scratching.

This method has a pretty good success rate when removing surface rust from items.

How to Use the Baking Soda Paste

  1. Put 2 tablespoons baking soda in a small bowl. Add just enough water to mix a thick paste.
  2. Use an old rag or cleaning pad to apply and remove the rust.
  3. Once you’ve rubbed the mix onto the rusty surface, let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then, using the rag or cleaning pad, rub the surface again, applying a bit more pressure this time, until the rust has been removed. You may have to repeat these steps depending on the rust stain.
  4. When you’ve removed the rust, rinse with water and dry completely.

If, you still see some stubborn rust clinging on after repeating the steps above, create the mixture again, but replace the water with hydrogen peroxide (just the regular strength you buy in the grocery store).

Using a Pumice Stone to Remove Rust from Porcelain and Ceramic

Hard water or high levels of iron in your water can cause a rusty ring to form around the toilet bowl, tub, or sink (you may experience this if you are on a well system). Rust stains can also happen from old rusty, galvanized pipes.

The sooner you get to these stains, the more success you will have. If they are older stains, you may be able to remove all or most of the rust stains, but it will require a little elbow grease, time, and patience.

When using a pumice stone, keep one thing in mind: to avoid scratching the surface you’re working on, keep the stone and the surface wet.

Steps for Removing a Rust Stain Using a Pumice Stone

  1. Wet the pumice stone and rub the stain with a gentle, consistent pressure.
  2. Continue rewetting the pumice stone and wetting the surface and rubbing the stain until it’s gone.
  3. The pumice stone leaves a grainy residue on the surface, so when you’re done be sure to rinse well.

If you have severe rusting, and the above steps only helped remove some of the rust, wet the surface then sprinkle on some baking soda or make a paste as outlined above.

Rub this into the stain and let it sit for a bit. Then come back and scrub with the pumice stone.

If your porcelain or ceramic surfaces are colored, you may want to hire a professional. The glaze can be scratched if you’re not careful.

Lemon and Salt Rust Stain Removal

Lemons are a fantastic piece of your rust stain removal toolkit. Mixed with a little salt, they can be used to remove rust stains on just about anything! Don’t be shy when applying the salt, and make sure you don’t wash it away by adding too much lemon juice.

Do not use lemon juice or any acidic product on stone surfaces such as granite, travertine or marble surfaces, as it could etch and damage the surface.

Getting Rust Out of Fabric

Whether it’s a tablecloth or a piece of clothing with a rust stain, lemon juice and salt should be able to remove the stain.

This method is not recommended for delicate fabrics.

It’s always a good idea to test the fabric in an inconspicuous spot first. Lemon juice can sometimes stain clothing, especially when left in the sun, so be sure to rinse thoroughly after removing the stain.

  1. Rinse the rust-stained area with cold water.
  2. Place the item on paper towels or a clean cloth.
  3. Pour on some of the salt.
  4. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze on some lemon juice.
  5. Scrub the stain with your fingers, an old toothbrush or another clean rag. Rinse thoroughly with cold water and let air dry. If the rust stain is removed, wash as usual.

If there is any remaining stain left, you can use the lemon juice full strength, let sit until it dries.

If it happens to be a sunny day, set the item in the sun to dry.

This method is not recommended for colored fabric, as the lemon juice will lighten the fabric as it sits in the sun.

Removing Rust from Scissors

If you have a pair of scissors with a little rust on them, combine 1 tablespoon lemon juice with salt to make a paste.

Apply to the rusted areas with a dry cloth and rub the rust away. Repeat if necessary.

This will also work on kitchen knives and household tools that might have a little rust on them.

Commercial Rust Stain Removers

If your rust stains are extra tough, there are many rust stain removers (that work on many surfaces) on the market that will dissolve your rust away.

Naval Jelly Rust Dissolver

Heavy rust deposits on metal surfaces can be cleaned completely using Naval Jelly. The gel adheres to the surface and removes rust in no time at all.

Whink Rust Stain Remover

Whink Rust Stain Remover is safe for pipes and septic systems. It can also be used on colorfast fabrics and white toilet bowls and sinks.

Super Iron Out Rust Stain Remover

This is a multi-purpose rust stain remover. Super Iron Out changes rust into a soluble state that rinses away without scrubbing.

Preventing Rust Stains

Removing rust, especially rust that’s been allowed to sit for a while on surfaces, can be difficult at times. Luckily, once the rust is removed, prevention is easy:

  • When you are cleaning metal surfaces in the kitchen or bathrooms, dry them immediately after cleaning. Fix any leaky faucets you may have.
  • Keep bikes, tools, and other metal items out of a wet environment. Bring bikes in during the rainy season, keep tools stored properly, and cover outdoor furniture to help keep rust away.

Though removing rust can be tough, it’s not impossible, as the methods and suggestions above have shown.

Since rust is damaging to surfaces, not to mention unsightly, it’s important to act quickly to remove it.

I hope these tips will make it easy for you to keep your home rust-free and sparkling!


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