How to Remove rust stains on clothes

White laundry basket filled with clothes, and laundry detergent bottle.

Rust stains on clothes are among the most challenging to remove. 

That said, all is not lost if you brush up against a rusty gate or bicycle in your favorite jeans or sundress this summer. 

You will need to be patient with your stain removal efforts here.

You may have to treat the rusty area several times before you begin to see the clear results.

But if you're determined to remove the unsightly blight - you'll be glad you took the time to treat, treat, and treat again. Here are five of the best rust stain removers to get the dirty job done come wash day.

1. Products to Remove Rust Stains on Clothes

There are laundry products specifically designed to remove rust stains that can help get the really tough jobs done.

The main ingredient in these stain removers is usually an acid - oxalic or hydrofluoric  - that loosens the iron from the fabric so it can be removed and washed away in the rinse water. 

These products, such as Whink Rust Stain Remover, are aggressive and can be toxic to the skin, so it is important to follow usage instructions carefully and keep them away from the kids.

For that reason, here are a few less-toxic alternatives you can use to remove rust stains on clothes at home.

2.  Baking Soda and Laundry Detergent Mix

A homemade rust stain remover of laundry detergent and baking soda is handy in removing rust stains from clothes. Start by brushing off any excess rust from the fabric surface.

Mix 3 tablespoons of baking soda into a gallon of cold water, then add a capful of laundry detergent and mix all together. Apply the solution directly onto the stain. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

Without rinsing the detergent solution, place the stained garment in the washing machine and wash as usual in the warmest laundry temperature safe for the fabric.

3.  Lemon Juice and Salt

Mix one tablespoon lemon juice and a spoonful of salt or baking soda into a paste to remove rust stains on clothes.

Apply the mix directly to the stained area. Allow it to sit and do its stain-busting work for two hours (in the sun, if possible.) Then rinse the mixture from the garment, and wash as usual.

4.  Cream of Tartar Powder

Cream of tartar powder can also remove rust stains on clothes. Here's how:

Boil a solution of 10 teaspoons of cream of tartar to one gallon of water in a pot large enough to hold the rust-stained garment. 

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

To remove really tough rust stains from clothes, follow this treatment with an overnight soak in laundry detergent and hot water. Once the rust stain has lifted, wash the clothing in the hottest water safe for the fabric. 

5.  Vinegar and Salt

Vinegar - a staple in most kitchens - is another effective stain remover. Apply white vinegar directly to the stained area, and cover it with a layer of salt. Leave it to dry in the sun.

When dry, rinse to remove the vinegar and salt and check to ensure the stain is gone. Then wash the garment, as usual, choosing the hottest temperature that is safe for the fabric.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.