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How to Remove Rust Stains from Clothes

Everyone loves a bike ride, but rust stains from greasy chains can be tough on clothes. Find out how to remove rust stains with our 3 easy steps!


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

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On sunny days, it’s great to get out with the family for a bike ride, but we sometimes bring home an unwanted visitor – rust. Old bicycle chains are notorious for leaving rust stains on clothing, but the good news is they’re not as difficult to remove as you may think. If you want to know how to remove rust stain marks from your favorite bicycle clothing, here is a simple step-by-step guide to follow.

Use an acid-based rust stain remover on stains before washing, with a powerful detergent that’s gentle on your clothes. Breeze with ActivBleach tackles more stains than any other Breeze detergent, with patented whitening technology that will help get your clothes clean. Always test stain removers on an inconspicuous area first to avoid fabric damage or discoloration.

Key Steps for Rust Removal

Rust stains are much easier to remove from clothing when they’re pre-treated with an effective rust stain remover, and then washed as normal in the washing machine with a good quality laundry detergent. Here’s how to get your clothing looking fresh and clean:

  • Step 1: Apply a Rust Stain Remover

Acid makes a great rust stain remover because it helps to dissolve rust and makes it easier for the stain to be washed away with water. Some of the safest acids to use are those that are found naturally – like lemon juice. For best results, mix lemon juice with a small amount of salt – just enough to make a paste. Apply this paste to your clothing and leave for 30 minutes. The salt acts as a mild abrasive, which helps to gently lift the stain from the materials.

  • Step 2: Rinse with Vinegar

Another excellent acid-based cleaner that works great on rust stains is vinegar (make sure you use white vinegar for white clothing or you may have another stain on your hands). Before popping your clothing in the washing machine, rinse the lemon and salt paste off the material with some undiluted vinegar. This will help to dissolve the rust further. Don’t worry about the strong smell – this should disappear completely after a good wash in the machine.

  • Step 3: Wash with Detergent

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The final step when it comes to rust removal is to wash your clothing in the washing machine with an effective laundry detergent like Breeze. Simply pour Breeze into your washing machine drawer or drum and wash your clothing in warm water of around 30 degrees – these cooler temperatures are great for the environment, and for your bills. Always check to ensure the stain is completely removed before drying. If necessary, repeat steps 1-3.

Now that you know how to remove rust from your favorite items of clothing, there’s no need to worry about rusty bicycle chains when you’re out cycling with your family. Rust may look bad – especially on white clothing – but it’s really not that difficult to remove. So get out there and have fun – but be sure to keep some lemon juice, vinegar, and Breeze in your cupboards at home, just in case.

Do you want to learn which household cleaning tasks cause the most stress?  Then read our Heated Household data analysis. 

Frequently asked questions about removing rust stains from laundry

How do you remove rust from your washing machine?

If you wish to remove rust from washing machine interiors, the best solution is made with equal parts water and white vinegar. Spray this liberally over the rusty areas and leave it to work for around 5 minutes before using sandpaper to sand off the rust layer.

Why are there rust stains on my clothes after drying?

Rust stains on clothes after drying could be due to the presence of rust inside the machine itself which is transferring to your clothing during the washing or drying process. Take care to not overload your machine and check the drum seal for signs of rust which may need cleaning using a rust remover.

How do you remove zinc stains from clothes?

There are 5 easy steps to follow for how to remove zinc stains from clothes. First, lay the clothing out on an old towel. Next, pour a small amount of white vinegar or the juice of half a lemon onto the stained area. Third, ensure that the stain is thoroughly saturated and blot it with a paper towel. Then leave the clothes in direct sunlight until you see the stain begin to fade. Finally, run your clothing through a normal wash cycle.

How do you remove copper stains from clothing?

Learn how to remove copper stains from clothing using these steps. Start by turning your clothing inside out. Then flush the area with cold water to remove the copper stain from the clothing fibers and wash as normal. If your clothing still shows signs of staining, try soaking in an all-purpose stain remover. Remember – the longer you leave a stain, the harder it will be to remove so try and treat it as soon as you notice it.

How do you remove iron stains from clothes after ironing?

There is no magic way to learn how to remove iron stains from clothes quickly: it takes time, patience, and a little elbow grease. First, you need a stain removing paste. We recommend a teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide and a touch of tartar cream or non-gel toothpaste. Use a soft cloth and your paste to rub the stain gently, ensuring you cover the entire stain. Rinse it off, and check if the stain is removed. Repeat as needed.

Originally published