Just about everyone has dealt with rust stains on clothing or upholstery at some point. Fortunately, there are several home remedies that are effective in removing the stains, making it possible to restore the appearance of the material. Most of these remedies use household items that are found in most pantries and storage areas around the home. Citric acid, vinegar, baking soda, and cream of tartar may all help remove rust stains.
One way to remove stains caused by rust is to use citric acid. Keep in mind that the concentration of the acid must be somewhat high, so you may want to look for a cleaner that contains citric acid as a main ingredient. Most supermarkets and pharmacies will have at least a few household cleaners that contain this ingredient.
In order to test for colorfastness on the garment, apply the product to an inconspicuous place, such as a shirttail. If the citric acid does not cause the color to fade, apply some of the product to the stains, allowing it to set for a moment, then use a dry cloth to pat the area dry. Repeat until the rust is lifted.
An alternative is to use white vinegar, since its acidic content can lift rust stains with relative ease. Moisten a cotton ball with the vinegar and dab the stain, being careful to not rub it into the fabric. As you dab the stains, you will notice the rust transferring to the cotton. When most of the rust is gone, rinse the area thoroughly. If you see any remnants, repeat the process.
Another home remedy for treating rust stains involves combining white vinegar with baking soda. This approach is sometimes helpful when the stain has set for some time. Apply a liberal amount of baking soda to the rust, then use an eyedropper to slowly add vinegar. The combination will begin to foam. Using a clean damp cloth, begin to gently but firmly dab the area until the rust is lifted.
Cream of tartar can also help remove rust from clothing. Mix the product with a small amount of water, creating a paste, apply it liberally to the stain, and allow it to set for a few moments. Using damp washcloth or sponge, gently rub the stained area, then rinse with clear water. The stain should be lifted after one or two applications.
Keep in mind that rust stains will not come out of some types of fabric, especially the more delicate fiber blends. When you suspect this may be the case, it is better to take the garment to a professional cleaning service. Attempting to remove rust from fine clothing using home remedies is likely to ruin any chances you may have of salvaging the garment.
It is important to wash and dry the fabric after using any type of stain removal product. For upholstery, use a clean dry cloth to soak up any remaining moisture, then vacuum the area where the stain was.