How to get rust stains out of clothes

Rust stains on clothes can be annoying, but with this handy guide you can rid of them without too much hassle! Read on to find out more.

Updated 28 June 2019

How to get rust stains out of clothes: newly washed colour clothes hanging on airer

Key Steps to Tackling Rust Stains

  1. Pretreat with a natural acid, like lemon juice, on the stain.
  2. Blot, don't rub.
  3. Wash as normal with a good detergent, like Persil.
  4.  Don't dry the fabric until the stain is fully removed. Repeat steps as necessary. 

When the weather is nice, and we’re out and about enjoying the great outdoors, it’s no wonder if the last thing on our minds is how to get rid of rust stains. However, iron and steel are used to make many everyday items, from railings to gardening tools – and when these materials come into contact with air and water, rust is sure to follow.

Rust is composed of iron oxide, and because of the stubborn nature of this particular mark, it can be difficult to know how to remove rust stains from clothes. Flaky and easily smeared into a larger stain, rust looks a lot worse than it is – so there’s no reason to let rust stains on clothes ruin your day. 

Commercial rust cleaner is available to buy in most hardware stores and is designed to remove rust stains from clothes on most materials. However, the chemical solution of these products is often strong, and you should be extremely careful to test it on a small, inconspicuous area of your clothing item first. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and follow up the stain removal process with a laundry cycle with quality laundry detergent to remove any residue.

How to Get Rust Out of Clothes

The obvious answer is to steer clear from rust altogether; but we all know that when the sun is out, no stain is going to keep us from flipping some burgers on the barbeque. Instead, learning how to remove rust stains from clothing means you will know exactly what to do when the inevitable happens. Bear in mind, however, that this is one of the more difficult stains around, so complete removal may not be possible – defer to the skills of a professional dry cleaner if this is the case.

  1. Move fast. The quicker you can start to remove rust stains from clothes the less chance it will have at sinking and setting into the material.
  2. Lemon or white vinegar are rust’s worst enemies. Lay your garment on an old towel and saturate the affected area with white vinegar or half a cut lemon.
  3. Blot the stain with a clean white towel or sponge to absorb the red discolouration.
  4. Place your clothing item in direct sunlight so that the stain continues to fade.
  5. Wash as normal with a good quality commercial laundry detergent. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and launder at the recommended setting, as detailed on the clothing care label.
  6. Leave to dry and repeat steps two to five if necessary.

So, now you know how to get rust stains out of clothes easily! Cleaning is often a question of having the right know-how rather than scrubbing for hours: once you understand what you’re dealing with, coming up with a solution is easy. And if you find you have rust stains in other parts of your home then we can help with that too! Check out our articles on tackling rust stains on carpets or even how to remove rust from your bathroom and kitchen.

Originally published 19 July 2018