How to Remove Rust Stains From Clothing or Laundry

Rust stains on clothing can be caused by coming into contact with a rusted object, but they can also originate in your washing machine, either from hard water, faulty or rusted plumbing or even a rusted piece of metal that has been accidentally washed with your laundry. Rust stains are often unsightly, especially on white garments. Traditional methods for removing stains, such as applying chlorine bleach, are often ineffective at removing rust stains from clothing, and in some cases may actually make the rust stains more difficult to remove.

Rust stains in the laundry can be caused by hard water.
  1. Test for colorfastness by wetting the inner seam of a garment with cold water and allowing it to sit for a few minutes; press firmly onto the seam with a white cloth. If no color bleeds onto the cloth, then the garment is colorfast and you can attempt to remove the rust stains. If the garment is not colorfast, then it will need to be taken to a commercial dry cleaner for professional treatment.
  2. Sprinkle the rust stain with enough salt to barely cover it, and saturate the stain with lemon juice.
  3. Allow the garment to completely dry in a sunny area.
  4. Rinse the article of clothing well and launder as usual.

Things You Will Need

  • White cloth
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice


  • If the rust stains remain after the lemon juice treatment, cover the stains with powdered cream of tartar and soak the garment in hot water for approximately five minutes.
  • If your washing machine is the source of rust stains, use an alternate washing machine or launder by hand.


  • Never use chlorine bleach as a means of removing a rust stain.
  • Avoid drying rust-stained laundry in a dryer.

Photo Credits

  • laundry washer image by Vasiliy Koval from Fotolia.com