How to Get Rust Stains Out of Clothes and Carpets: 5 Clever Methods

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Pixabay

If you notice an orangish-brown stain on your laundry or carpet, there’s no need to panic. You can remove rust stains from fabric with a few simple home remedies. We’ll look at how to get rust out of carpets, upholstery, and clothes. 

Rust on clothing can come from a variety of sources. You may have accidentally rubbed up against a rusty car or pipes, or perhaps the issue is the washer itself. If rust stains keep appearing on your clothes, it’s best to get someone in to service your laundry machine.

Home remedies are great for removing rust stains because you almost always have the ingredients on hand, they’re inexpensive and they’re often more environmentally friendly than aggressive cleaners.

Note: Make sure you read the instruction labels on your clothing and try these remedies in small, inconspicuous spots first to see the reaction.

How to Get Rust Out of Clothes

how to get rust out of clothes
Lemon juice and salt make a great team when fighting rust stains. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Nery Montenegro )

When it comes to stained clothing, time is of the essence. Your best chance of removing rust stains from clothes is while the stain is still fresh.

  • Lemon juice or citric acid make great remedies for rust stains. Mix lemon juice (or citric acid) and warm water together, then dab the mixture on the stain and wait a few minutes. The stain should come out after the next wash cycle. 
  • Buttermilk works best on delicate textiles. Simply soak the affected piece of clothing in buttermilk for at least an hour. Then you should be able to brush out the rust stain from your clothes and throw it in your laundry machine to wash the rest of the buttermilk out. This method is great if you have extra buttermilk in the fridge that you weren’t going to use. 
  • Rhubarb is a lesser known household remedy for removing rust stains from clothes and other fabrics. The oxalic acid contained in the leaves removes rust quite easily, just be sure to wear gloves as oxalic acid is toxic. Simply make a brew from the stalks and leaves and soak affected garments in it, then wash in the laundry machine.

Removing Rust Stains from Carpet and Upholstery  

how to remove rust stains from clothes
Baking powder and cream of tartar are pantry staples when it comes to home remedies. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Azzaryiatul Amar)

As with any stain that isn’t machine washable, it’s best to gently scrape the affected area with a knife to remove any loose particles. You can then vacuum up the loose rust before starting to remove the rust stain.

  • For most carpet and upholstery stains, the first course of action is to dampen the affected area and add a drop or two of dish soap, then let it soak for 5 minutes or so. This will help to loosen the stain, and make it more susceptible to further treatment – it may even get rid of the rust stain altogether!
  • Salt and Vinegar: while this duo sounds more like a chip flavor than a rust removal remedy, the combination can be quite effective at removing rust stains from clothes as well as carpets or upholstery. Soak a rag in white vinegar and wring dry. Generously sprinkle salt on the stain, cover with the rag, and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Repeat the process until the stain disappears, then vacuum up the salt.
  • Cream of Tartar, Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide: combine 1 teaspoon cream of tartar with 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. Apply the paste to the rust stain, and let sit for half an hour before rinsing with warm water. You may have to try a few times before the stain disappears.
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