How to Remove Rust Stains From Clothes (Whites and Colors) 

Updated June 1, 2022
woman holding shirt with rust stain

Don't throw away a favorite piece of clothing just because you notice a rust stain on the item. While rust isn't likely to wash out of fabric without a little extra effort, there are several simple ways to remove most rust stains from apparel. Discover how to get rust out of clothes with pantry staple ingredients that you probably already have in your home!

Use a Hydrogen Peroxide Paste (White Clothing Only)

If you are trying to remove rust from a piece of white clothing, hydrogen peroxide is a good ingredient to try. However, this technique could fade the color of fabrics that aren't white.

Hydrogen peroxide solution in brown amber bottle

Supplies

Gather the following ingredients.

  • 1/4 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Note: This quantity is appropriate to cover a relatively small rust mark. If you the item you wish to clean has a large area of rust, increase each item in proportion as needed. This will help ensure that you have enough paste to cover the mark.

Instructions

Follow these instructions:

  1. Mix the baking soda and cream of tartar in a small bowl.
  2. Add the hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Stir to form a paste.
  4. If the consistency isn't paste-like, add more dry ingredients (equal parts cream of tartar and baking soda) or hydrogen peroxide until it is the correct thickness.
  5. Using your fingers or a spatula, spread the paste over the rusted area on the piece of clothing.
  6. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  7. Rinse the paste off the fabric.
  8. Wash as usual.

How to Remove Rust Stains With Toilet Bowl Cleaner (White Clothes)

You can also try a bit of toilet bowl cleaner to remove the rust stains on white clothes. However, remember to wear your gloves when using this method.

Supplies

Before getting started, you'll want to grab:

  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Toothbrush
  • Powdered detergent

Instructions

Now that you've got your ingredients ready, it's time to get cleaning. Remember, you only want to use this method on white clothes.

  1. Apply a drop of toilet bowl cleaner over the stain or stains.
  2. Allow it to sit for a minute.
  3. Dip a wet toothbrush in the detergent.
  4. Scrub the stain.
  5. Rinse and enjoy.

Add Lemon Juice to the Washing Machine (All Colors)

Adding lemon juice to the washing machine can be a great way to get rust stains out of clothing. According to Mulberrys Garment Care, this technique is not only safe to use with colored clothing; it can even brighten the color.

Supplies

Gather these supplies:

  • 1 cup of lemon juice (can be bottled or fresh)
  • Your favorite laundry detergent (in the quantity required for a load of laundry)

Instructions

Follow these instructions:

  1. Prepare a load of laundry as usual.
  2. Add the laundry detergent as usual.
  3. Pour in a cup of lemon juice.
  4. Wash clothing as usual.

Scrub With a Lemon Juice and Salt Paste (All Colors)

Another option using lemon involves making a paste of lemon juice and salt.

Woman squeezing lemon juice in her hand

Supplies

Gather these ingredients:

  • Salt (regular table salt is fine)
  • Lemon juice (can be bottled or fresh)

Note: Use these items in equal quantities, depending on the size of the area that needs to be covered. For relatively small stains, start with 1/4 cup of each. Increase quantity proportionally as needed.

Instructions

Follow these instructions:

  1. Pour salt and lemon juice into a bowl.
  2. Mix to form a paste.
  3. If the consistency isn't paste-like, add more lemon juice or salt until it the mixture reaches the desired consistency.
  4. Using your fingers or a brush, spread the paste over the rusted area on the piece of clothing.
  5. Rub the paste into the stain.
  6. Allow the paste to sit on the garment for around an hour. (Note: This option may work even better if you allow the item to sit outside in the sun while the lemon juice and salt mixture is on the garment.)
  7. Rinse off the paste.
  8. Wash the item of clothing as usual.

How to Remove Rust Stains From Clothes With Vinegar

When it comes to removing a rust stain, white vinegar can be your best friend. Well, white vinegar and the sun. White vinegar will even help get out dried blood stains and remove color bleeding from your clothes, so keep those tips in your arsenal too.

White vinegar for laundry

Supplies

Before you get that rust stain gone, you need a few things from your pantry.

  • White vinegar
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • White towel
  • Toothbrush

Instructions

Grab your white vinegar and detergent. You are ready to crush that stain.

  1. Add an ample amount of straight white vinegar to the rust stain.
  2. Allow it to sit on the garment for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Blot with a white towel.
  4. Lay it out in the sun until the white vinegar dries completely.
  5. Dip a toothbrush into the detergent.
  6. Scrub the area.
  7. Rinse and wash as normal

Mastering the Art of Removing Rust From Clothing

If you try one of these methods and it doesn't work the first time, don't despair. Depending on how severely the apparel item is stained or how long the rust mark has been there, it may take a few tries with different methods for removing old stains from clothes to get the best results. If these super-cheap natural remedies won't work, you may even want to purchase a commercial rust cleaning product appropriate for use with clothing. Just don't use bleach because it will set the rust in permanently and could cause its own bleach stains. And since clothes aren't the only items that can be affected by rust stains, you might like some tips on removing rust from concrete too.

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How to Remove Rust Stains From Clothes (Whites and Colors)