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How to Remove Rust Stains From Lace

Cindy Wynn J.D.

It’s party time and you dig your festive lace blouse out of the closet only to find a rust stain where you left your grandmother’s antique brooch pinned to the collar. Now what do you do? Is the garment forever ruined? Is there any way to remove the rust stain from the delicate lace?

Although many chemical cleaners on the market today claim to remove rust stains, and they are effective at removing stains from bathtubs or lawn furniture, delicate lace is another matter—and commercial cleaners can be too harsh. Grab some lemon juice instead. Acid is the key to making rust water soluble and lemon juice has enough acid to do the job without being too harsh for your lace.

Soak in Lemon Juice

  1. Fill a bowl with lemon juice. You may dilute the lemon juice with water if your fabric is particularly fragile.

  2. Soak the soiled lace in the bowl for one hour.

  3. Rinse and launder as usual.

Lemon Juice and Baking Soda Paste

  1. Make a paste of lemon juice and baking soda.

  2. Apply the paste to the stain.

  3. Sun dry for one hour.

Cream of Tartar Paste

  1. Make a paste from cream of tartar and water.

  2. Apply it to the stain.

  3. Roll up the item tightly.

  4. Soak it in hot water for one hour.

  5. Launder as usual.

  6. Tip

    If possible, test on an inconspicuous spot in the fabric.


    Using lemon juice, particularly in the sun may bleach fabric—if you have cream-colored lace try the cream of tartar method instead. Some persons may be sensitive to even these mild acids—use rubber gloves as a precaution. If your lace is on a treasured antique such as your grandmother's wedding gown, you may want to consult a professional dry cleaner rather than trying to clean the item yourself.