How to Remove Rust Stains from a Tub

The key to removing rust stains from a tub is to remove the stains as soon as they appear. The longer you wait, the more rust will build on the stain. Increased rust requires more time and effort to thoroughly remove. Integrating regular rust removal to your tub cleaning schedule helps you maintain a sparkling white tub that begs you to enjoy a long, hot bubble bath.

Remove Rust Stains from a Tub

Using Pantry Items to Remove Rust Stains from a Tub

Many items found in your kitchen pantry will effectively remove rust stains from a tub. 

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Clean, white towels
  • Lemon Juice
  • White Vinegar
  • Borax
  • Cream of Tartar
  1. Pour lemon juice over the rust-stained area of the tub. Lemon juice contains citric acid, a gentle acid that is effective at removing rust. The citric acid solubilizes the iron oxide based rust, removing it from the surface of the tub.
  2. Allow the lemon juice to penetrate the stained area for up to 24 hours. The removal may take a few minutes or it could take the entire 24 hours, depending on the amount of rust. 
  3. Rinse the tub thoroughly with water. Acids will continue to work, even though the rust is dissolved. Once the stain is no longer evident, rinsing the tub removes the acid. 
  4. If the rust is not removed after 24 hours, pour white vinegar over the rust stain. Vinegar contains acetic acid. The vinegar works in the same manner as lemon juice, but the acid is slightly more powerful. 
  5. Allow the vinegar to remain on the rust stain for up to 24 hours. You can reapply the vinegar during this time if the rust stain is severe. 
  6. Rinse thoroughly with water. 

Stubborn rust stains may require stronger cleaners. Combine 2 tablespoons of borax with 2 cups of warm water. Use a towel to apply the mixture to the stain. Allow to remain overnight. Rinse well with cold water.

If the rust still remains, create a thick paste of cream of tartar and water. Apply to the rust stain. Allow to rest on the stain for up to an hour. Use a damp towel to gently work the cleaner into the rust stain until it is removed. Rinse the tub well with fresh water.

Removing Rust Stains Using Oxalic Acid

Oxalic acid is a dry material that closely resembles sugar. Once dissolved in water, it effectively removes rust and other oxidation from surfaces. It is a mild acid that requires the use of rubber gloves when it is handled.

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Bucket
  • Hot tap water
  • Oxalic acid
  • Rubber gloves
  • Clean, white towels

Put on the rubber gloves and fill a plastic bucket with one gallon of hot water. Pour in approximately 1/8 cup oxalic acid crystals. Avoid inhaling any of the dust from the crystals or the fumes from the mixture. Once the crystals dissolve, you are ready to remove the rust stains from the tub. 

  1. Dampen a clean, white towel in the oxalic acid mixture. 
  2. Generously sponge the cleaner onto the rust stains. 
  3. Allow to penetrate for five minutes. 
  4. Reapply the acid until the stains are removed. 
  5. Rinse the tub thoroughly using warm water. 

While it is not necessary, it would be a good idea to thoroughly clean the tub with a mild dishwashing liquid to ensure that all of the acid is completely removed before the tub is used. 

We often turn to our bathtubs as a nice way to relax after a long, hard day. The last thing you want to see in your tub is brown stains. Acids dissolve the rust stains, allowing you to relax in a clean, white tub. Cleaning rust stains as they first appear results in quick and easy removal. However, even difficult rust stains can be removed with the proper products.