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how to remove rust stains on clothes

How to remove rust stains on clothes?

Oxalic acid (a mineral blight remover) is one of the most effective rust stain removers for clothes. It is potent household cleaner that removes rust and stains caused by iron, water and tannic acid on myriad home surfaces - not just clothes.

It comes in a dry crystal or powder form that you dissolve in warm water for use. Be sure to read and follow the package directions and precautions.

Oxalic acid is most commonly used as a wood bleaching agent, so don't be surprised when you search for it that this is its primary listed use. That said, oxalic acid's use as a household cleaner is more common than you might think. Bar Keepers Friend is just one example of a household cleaning containing oxalic acid.

It's strong, to be sure - and it works. (You can shop for oxalic acid here. Navigate to the laundry page from the main menu and you'll find it.)

using cream of tartar to remove rust stains on clothes

Cream of tartar can also remove rust stains on clothes. Try this rust-buster solution: Boil a solution of 10 teaspoons of cream of tartar to one gallon of water in a pot free of any rust (using enough water to submerge the garment).

Place the stained item in the boiling water and soak for 10 to 20 minutes. If some rust remains, empty the water and repeat the treatment.

For really tough rust stains, follow this treatment with an overnight soak of the garment in laundry detergent and hot water.

Once the stain has lifted, wash the garment in the hottest water safe for the fabric. And be sure the stain is gone before tossing it into the dryer, as any remaining stain will set in the dryer cycle.

how to prevent future rust stains

Next, try a bit of detective work to determine just where those yellow, orange, or brown rust stains or spots are coming from. Generally, rust stains on clothes are caused by one of three things:

  • You've got iron in the water going into the washing machine, or;
  • You've got leaking pipes, likely caused by an older water heater.
  • You hung your blouse or jeans on a rusty hanger or leaned against a rusty handrail.

Let's start with the easy one first: Take care that you toss a rusty hanger before anyone inadvertently hangs something on it.

And beware the rusty handrail - or anything else with rust on it. 

how iron in the water creates rust stains on clothes

The going is about to get a bit more complicated here. It's iron that has made its way into your wash water, creating a rusty stain on some of the clothes inside.

How to remove rust stains on clothes.Rust stains on clothes are generated during the washing process.

Water in the laundry process helps dissolve soils and stains and carries them away from the fabrics. In short: water quality directly affects how clean clothes get.

Hard water, or water that contains mineral salts such as calcium and magnesium ions, limits the ability of your laundry detergent to get sudsy, whisk dirt from your clothes, and send it down the drain with the wash water.

Clothes can easily get rust stains with even minute concentrations of iron in the wash water.

If iron in water is the problem, substitute oxygen bleach for chlorine bleach. Oxygen bleach doesn't react with iron to cause staining. 

other ways to minimize iron's affect on your laundry

  • Use a water softener - often labeled water conditioner - at the beginning of the wash and rinse cycles.
  • Install a water softener system.

preventing rust stains caused by a leaky pipe or an older water heater

Have your washer checked by an appliance professional to rule out any less expensive problem - like a problematic drum.

Until you get this under control, use oxygen bleach in place of chlorine bleach to keep iron stains to a minimum or eliminate them entirely.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for rust stain removal products and all the laundry supplies you need to keep you laundry clean and bright.

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› How to Remove Rust Stains on Clothes


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