How to Wash Clothes in Rusty Water

Mary Ylisela

Rusty water usually happens as a result of iron deposits in your pipes or water. In rural areas, where the water source is a well, rusty water is a common issue with which to deal. Rust stains have a tendency to transfer to most anything they come in contact, especially items that are made of porous material, such as your laundry. Use simple preventive and maintenance measures to ensure that when your laundry is washed in rusty water it doesn't come out with orange discoloration.

Rust transfers easily to many surfaces.
    Clear the washing machine lines of rust by running your washing machine prior to doing laundry.
  1. Reduce the amount of rust in the wash water by running your washing machine through a full cycle with no laundry or detergent added. Running an adequate amount of water can help flush the plumbing lines of rust particles that have been sitting since you last washed. Turn on faucets near the washing machine, as well, and allow the water to run for five to 10 minutes to clear rust from the lines.

  2. Wash your laundry in cold water, with a phosphate detergent and all-fabric oxygen bleach. The phosphate detergent and oxygen bleach remove and reduce the rust in the water much in the same way as a water softener does.

  3. Add one cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle along with your detergent and bleach. Vinegar is known to be a natural rust remover and inhibitor and will keep any traces of rust in the water from penetrating your clothing.

  4. Pour one cup of white vinegar into the rinse cycle, as well. The presence of vinegar in both water cycles of the wash machine will keep rust from transferring to your laundry.

  5. Check your laundry for rust stains prior to placing it in the dryer. The heat from the dryer will set a stain. If any traces of rust transferred to your clothing, dab at the rust with a cotton ball and vinegar to remove the stain.