How to remove rust stains from clothes

Where can rust appear? On pipes, plumbing, metal utensils and car parts. Unfortunately, this list also includes woven items: curtains, bedspreads and, of course, wardrobe items. These are difficult stains to remove, but often you can wash rust off clothes without resorting to strong means.

How to remove rust stains from clothes; Do’s and Don’ts

How does rust get on wardrobe items? Of course, through contact with objects containing iron. Most often, the culprits of unsightly stains and streaks are:

  • fittings oxidized after washing;
  • keys or coins forgotten in a pocket, getting wet along with clothes;
  • rusty central heating pipes;
  • old swings and slides on the playground, as well as benches with iron oxide protruding from the metal parts.

If rust stains are found after a walk or when sorting laundry after drying, do not try to wash them out locally, or soak or wash the entire item. Rust loves water, or rather the oxygen it contains. Therefore, contact with it will further aggravate the situation.

To save damaged clothes, you need to do the following:

  1. Remove buttons and metal decorations from the model, which may oxidize when in contact with cleaning agents or water.
  2. Determine the composition of the fabric, focusing on the label. The more delicate the material, the more gentle the cleaning agent will be needed for it.
  3. If an item, such as jeans, is prone to fading, you should avoid products with a clear bleaching effect and stock up on a cleaner for colored fabrics (possible options will be presented below).
  4. Be sure to test the selected product on an inconspicuous area on the back of the model, for example: on the inner seam. If nothing has happened to the material, you can move on to combating rust stains.

Universal cleaning methods

Rust stains are among the most difficult to remove, as they can only be removed with acid or acid-containing compounds. However, before resorting to radical cleaning methods, it is worth trying to remove traces of rust with one of the following, relatively gentle, means:

  • Toothpaste. The composition is squeezed out of the tube onto the fabric and, having spread it over the red stain, is allowed to dry completely. Then the fabric is cleaned with a brush. This product is the weakest and will only cope with fresh contamination.
  • Citric acid or ascorbic acid. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of crystals in hot water (you will need 100 or 200 ml, depending on the intensity of the stain). Pour the resulting mixture into a small container and dip the fabric with the stain into it several times, or rub the mixture into the rusty mark with a cotton pad. Then rinse the treated area with clean water.
  • Oxalic acid. The product is mixed with water, as in the previous case, and then the stained fabric is cleaned in the same way. It can be washed with clean water mixed with a few drops of ammonia to neutralize the action of the acid.
  • Lemon juice. It is squeezed out, heated and immediately applied to the dirty area. After that, the clothes are placed on an ironing board, and the rusty mark is covered on both sides with thick white material and ironed with a warm iron. If necessary, the procedure is repeated, each time replacing the dirty material with a fresh one or moving the dirty area to the side. The cleaned surface is washed with water at room temperature.

If the garment cannot be ironed, the rust stains are generously doused with juice and left for a quarter of an hour. Then the rust residue is washed off under running water.

Saving white clothes

You can remove rust from white items using either specialized industrial cleaners or substances that are not intended for fabrics.

If you choose to buy cleaners, you need to carefully study their composition and purpose. The fact is that only some products will help remove rust stains (and only fresh ones). Incorrectly chosen detergents will at best not live up to expectations, and at worst will give the opposite effect. So, the following are not suitable for resuscitating white things:

  • laundry and any other soap;
  • washing powder, including enzyme-based detergent;
  • oxygen and optical brighteners.

Good results in the fight against rust are shown by:

  • chlorine bleaches, for example: “Belina”, “ACE”, “Vanish”;
  • stain removers, for example: Dr. Beckmann “Expert”, “Antipyatin”, Clean Home.

It should be noted that chlorine, interacting with iron oxide, leaves dark spots on some fabrics. Therefore, the bleaching process should be approached with extreme caution.

No less (and sometimes even more) effective on rust stains are “folk” remedies. The best of them is hydrosulfite . This method can be used to remove rust stains from white clothing of any kind. One teaspoon of the substance is dissolved in 200 ml of water. The solution is heated and the contaminated areas are treated.

For white items made of thick cotton, you can use with caution products for removing rust and limescale from plumbing, for example: “Silit”, “Domestos”, “Sanita”. The substance is applied to the area moistened with water, and after a few minutes after the foam appears, it is washed off with plenty of water.

The above compounds are extremely aggressive, so they should only be used as a last resort and in a well-ventilated area. In this case, it is necessary to wear a fabric mask and rubber gloves.

We remove it from colored items

At home, it is best to clean brown rust stains from colored clothing using pharmaceutical products and substances that can be found in any kitchen. Let’s look at the most effective recipes:

  • Apply a cotton pad soaked in table vinegar to the dirty area several times. When the top layer of rust is removed, if necessary, soak the clothes in a vinegar solution (half a glass per 10 liters of water). After 2-3 hours, wash out the stain and rinse the item thoroughly.
  • Vinegar mixed with ammonia will remove rust from fur products within half an hour.
  • Prepare a paste of table salt and 9% vinegar. Apply the mixture to the fabric for 2-3 hours.
  • Add glycerin and water to tooth powder or crushed chalk to make a thick paste. Apply the mixture to the dirty area and wait 8 hours.
  • Prepare a mixture of glycerin and dishwashing gel (1:1 ratio). Rub the cleaner into the rust stain, and after 2-3 hours wash the item in any way.

Thus, it is quite possible to deal with rust stains that have appeared on things without resorting to expensive professional dry cleaning services.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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