10 tips for removing rust stains from most surfaces

Rust is unsightly and destructive. When metal reacts with air, rust proliferates — affecting iron, steel, chrome, bathtubs, toilets, sinks concrete, garden tools, outdoor metal furniture, carpets and fabric, among other things. But with a little know how it is possible to remove it from most surfaces.

10 tips for removing rust stains from most surfaces

1. Banish rust from iron and steel

  • Use fine sandpaper or steel wool for the removal job.
  • If more drastic measures are needed, dip your abrasive in kerosene.
  • And then repaint.

2. For rust on bathtubs, toilets and sinks

  • Rub with automotive rubbing compound on a clean rag.
  • If the rust is really thick, use a pumice stone to penetrate the rust, along with more rubbing compound.
  • Rubbing compound and pumice are readily available from most hardware and home improvement stores.

3. If your stainless steel sink gets rusty

Rub it with lighter fluid. Be careful though, because this stuff is highly flammable.

4. Remove rust from metal baking dishes

  • Sprinkle powdered dishwasher or laundry detergent onto the spot and scour with the cut edge of a raw potato half.
  • Another method is to pour cola on the rust and let it work its magic overnight. Then wash the cookware in the morning.

5. To tackle rust stains on concrete

Sprinkle dry cement powder on the rust and use a small piece of flagstone (what patios are often made of) to rub out the stain. The combination of powder and stone acts like pumice and will often eradicate the rust.

6. To remove rust stains from patio stones

  • Wet the area with a hose and cover it with powdered lemonade mix (from the drinks and cordials section of supermarkets).
  • Cover that with a piece of plastic (to prevent the moisture from evaporating) and hold it down with something heavy.
  • Let it stand for 10 minutes or so.
  • Scrub with a stiff-bristled brush and rinse with the hose.
  • Repeat if necessary.
  • If the lemonade mix does not work, or you'd rather drink the lemonade, use CLR (Calcium Lime Rust Cleaner), available from large supermarkets and hardware stores. This product is corrosive, so wear rubber gloves and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • You can also first rinse the area with water and then apply a solution of 1 part muriatic acid (from pool shops) to no fewer than 5 parts water. Let the solution stand for a few minutes and then rinse with water. Again, wear rubber gloves and eye protection when using muriatic acid, and do not breathe in the fumes.

7. When metal deck and porch furniture is badly rusted

  • Wrap the rusted part in a kerosene-soaked cloth for a few days.
  • Then sand with medium-grit sandpaper.
  • Wash, rinse and dry thoroughly and then paint the furniture with a rustproof paint.

8. If your carpet or rug has rust stains

  • Try mixing water with baking soda into a paste.
  • Apply the paste to the stain, allow it to sit 3–4 hours, and then use a commercial carpet shampoo according to the instructions on the package.

9. For rust stains on clothing

  • Apply a paste of lemon juice and baking soda to a hidden spot to make sure the colour holds.
  • If all is well, apply the paste to the rust stains.
  • Let it sit an hour before hanging the clothing outside to dry, then launder the garment as usual.

10. For rust on white clothes

  • Mix cream of tartar with lemon juice and apply it to the stain.
  • Let the garment dry and then rinse thoroughly before washing as usual.
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