Rust stains are unsightly and can make an otherwise clean sink or tub appear dirty and neglected. If you’ve tried in the past to remove these stains with no luck, you may be convinced they are there to stay, but with our two-tiered approach, rust stains can become a thing of the past. Read on for tips on rust stain removal using a variety of do-it-yourself and commercial cleaners, from the helpful professionals at Mr. Handyman.
What Causes Rust Stains?
Rust stains can be challenging to remove and may become permanent over time. Possible causes include:
A rusty or deteriorated water heater, fixtures, or pipes can cause rust particles to be present in your water supply. In addition to the damage to your home, this is a health concern that should be addressed as quickly as possible by a professional, licensed plumber. If the issue stems from rusty pipes or a water heater, they will need to be replaced.
If the water entering your home has a sufficiently high iron content, the water may look and taste normal—but in areas where there is often standing water, such as the toilet bowl, rust stains may appear. One option is to have your water tested or contact a professional, licensed plumber. If an abundance of iron deposits is the problem, a softener or filter is recommended.
How to Remove Rust Stains
Your success at removing rust stains will depend on factors such as the material your surface is made from (acrylic, porcelain, or enamel) and the length of time the discoloration has been there. In cases of chronic staining, the color may have permanently etched itself into the porcelain making it impossible to remove. Before you attempt any of the methods listed below, conduct a spot test in an inconspicuous area of the sink, tub or toilet to prevent damage. Rust stain removal options include:
Lemon and Salt
Use either bottled or fresh lemon juice, add enough salt to form a wet paste and apply it to the affected area(s). While this solution is ideally suited for flat surfaces, it can also be successful in the toilet bowl, although the application may be tricky. Once applied, allow the mixture to sit for several hours or overnight before scrubbing with a toothbrush or microfiber cloth, and rinsing with clean water.
A pumice stick or stone is an option for removing rust stains from porcelain, although it is not recommended for fiberglass. Simply wet the stone and apply enough elbow grease to effectively rub away the stain. As you continue to work, the dampened stone will create a paste which will aid in the cleaning process by lifting and removing the stain. Once you are finished scrubbing, rinse the area with clean water.
Make a thick paste of baking soda and water and apply to the affected area(s). Leave the mixture to sit overnight and scrub with a toothbrush or microfiber cloth, and rinse with clean water.
Abrasive Scouring Pads
For light, stains try scrubbing the area with the rough side of a sponge or scouring pad that has been slightly dampened.
There are several cleaning products on the market that are formulated to remove stains, including rust. Avoid products that contain bleach as it may only exacerbate the problem. Options include:
Bar Keepers Friend®