How to Remove Rust Stains From Clothes

Often, you have no idea how your shirt or pants got stained with rust -- you just know you want to know how to remove rust stains from your clothes. Rust stains are among the trickiest stains to remove; most laundry detergents are powerless against rust stains, while chlorine bleach can set them forever, even on white clothes. There are laundry rust removers on the market, but most of these recommended rust removers are safe only on white clothes. Removing rust stains from washable clothing can be done, however, but it may take multiple tries. When it comes to dry clean only clothes, it's best to leave those to the professionals -- always take rust stained items labeled dry clean only to a professional cleaner.

remove rust stains from clothes

How to Remove Rust Stains From Washable White Fabrics Using Laundry Rust Remover

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Laundry Rust Remover
  • Heavy Duty Laundry Detergent

If you've got rust stains on your white washable clothing, you're in luck -- it's easiest to remove rust stains from clothes that are white. Most laundry rust removers are safe only on white clothes and fabrics; never use laundry rust removers on colored clothes and fabrics, as they will permanently discolor the fabric.

  1. Use laundry rust remover according to label directions.
  2. For heavily rust-stained fabrics, or fabrics with multiple rust stains, soak several hours or as directed by the laundry rust remover label.
  3. Wash as directed with laundry rust remover.
  4. Allow the clothing or other item to air dry; heat from the dryer can permanently set rust stains.
  5. Check to make sure the rust stain(s) is removed; if not, repeat steps 1-4 until the stain is gone.

How to Remove Rust Stains From Washable White Fabrics Using Lemon Juice and Salt

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • A lemon or lemon juice
  • Table Salt
  • Laundry Detergent

If lemon juice and salt seem like an unlikely stain-fighting combination, think again -- it's how to remove rust from clothes the old fashioned way. Lemon juice and salt combined create a chemical reaction that can remove rust from clothes and fabrics; however, this stain removal method is only recommended for white fabrics, as it can bleach colored fabrics, especially bright or darker fabrics.

To use salt and lemon juice to remove rust stains:

  1. Soak the stain with lemon juice, either freshly squeezed or bottled.
  2. Rub the stain with salt.
  3. Expose the article of clothing or fabric to bright sunshine, if possible -- bright sunshine enhances the ability of the lemon juice and salt solution to remove rust stains from fabrics.
  4. Allow the lemon juice and salt solution to dry. Rinse the stain with cold water.
  5. If any stain remains, repeat steps 1-4 until removed.
  6. Wash according to label directions.

How to Remove Rust Stains From Washable Colored Fabrics

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Powdered Oxygen Bleach
  • Water
  • Laundry Detergent

Rust stains can be especially difficult to remove from colored fabrics. The best removal methods, laundry rust removers and lemon juice/salt solution, will discolor or bleach colored clothing and other fabrics. In some cases, powdered oxygen bleach can remove rust stains from colored fabrics, so it's worth a try if you want to save your clothes.

Here's how to remove rust from clothes that are colored (remember to always read clothing labels before treating with any chemical):

  1. Dampen the rust stain with cool water.
  2. Make a solution of powdered oxygen bleach and water according to package directions.
  3. Apply the solution directly to the stains, and allow to sit for 1-5 minutes.
  4. Rinse the stain with cold water. If any stain remains, repeat steps 2-4 until the stain is gone.
  5. Wash according to label directions.

If you live in an area that has sulfur or other minerals in the water, or live in a home with old pipes, knowing how to get rust out of clothes is a must, and so is knowing how to prevent these stains from forming. Periodically using a rust remover in your washing machine, according to the rust remover's label instructions, can prevent the rust that often comes with hard water or old pipes from settling in your washer and showing up on your clothing. Always check your clothing before you throw it in the dryer to make sure no rust has settled on the fabric during the wash.

If there's one stain that everyone dreads seeing on their clothing, it's rust, as rust has earn it's reputation as one of the toughest laundry stains to remove. Don't give up on your rust-stained clothes yet, though -- using the right products, it may be possible to remove rust from clothes without destroying the fabric.