How to remove rust stains on clothes

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

That said, all is not lost if you notice rust stains on clothes after washing them. 

You'll need to be patient with your stain removal methods - meaning you may have to treat a rust stain several times before you see results. But your efforts will be rewarded with clothes you can actually wear again.

Here are the most effective methods for removing rust stains from clothes.

Remove Rust Stains on Clothes with a Targeted Laundry Product

There are targeted laundry products specifically designed to remove rust stains on clothes available at grocery stores and online. 

The main ingredient in these rust stain remover products 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.

How to Remove Rust Stains With Baking Soda and Laundry Detergent

Start by brushing off any excess rust on the fabric's surface. Now mix a baking soda and laundry detergent solution by combining 3 tablespoons of baking soda per gallon of cold water, then adding a capful of laundry detergent to it. Apply the solution directly onto the rust stain, and let it sit on the stain 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.

Lemon Juice and Salt Rust Stain Remover 

You can also use lemon juice with a spoonful of salt or baking soda to remove rust stains on clothes. Create the mix, and apply directly to the rust stain. Allow to sit for up to two hours (in the sun, if possible.) Then rinse the mixture from the garment, and wash as usual.

Using Cream of Tartar Powder for Rust Stain Removal

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 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.

Vinegar and Salt Solution to Remove Rust Stains

Vinegar - a staple in most kitchens - is another effective rust 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.

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