How to Get an Old Rust Stain Out of Fabric

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Things You'll Need

  • Towel

  • White vinegar

  • Table salt

  • Lemon juice

  • Commercial rust remover

Rust eats away at the surface it is growing on, deteriorating it beyond repair.

Moisture left to sit on metal will oxidize and create rust. When the rusty object comes in contact with fabric, the rust will transfer onto the item and leave a difficult to remove stain. You typically cannot remove rust stains from fabric with a simple washing. Furthermore, the longer the rust is allowed to sit on the fabric, the more difficult removing it becomes. Fortunately, you can still remove the rust stain with the help of a few common household items.


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Vinegar and Salt

Step 1

Place a towel flat on a level surface in direct sunlight. Lay the fabric on the towel with the rust facing upward.

Step 2

Dampen the rust with white vinegar. Sprinkle table salt on the area and rub into the spot with your fingers.

Step 3

Let the rust spot sit in direct sunlight for 15 minutes. Launder the fabric as you normally would.


Lemon Juice

Step 1

Lay a towel out flat on a level surface in direct sunlight. Place the fabric -- rust spot facing upward -- on the towel.

Step 2

Saturate the rust with lemon juice. Use your fingers to rub the lemon juice into the rust stain.

Step 3

Allow the fabric to sit in direct sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse the lemon juice off the fabric under cold, running water. Launder as you normally would.


Commercial Rust Remover

Step 1

Dampen the rust with a commercial rust remover. Familiarize yourself with the instructions and warnings printed on the label.

Step 2

Let the rust remover soak into the fabric for 15 minutes. Hold the fabric under cold, running water to rinse the remover off.

Step 3

Launder the fabric as you normally would.


Check for visibility of the rust after washing. If the rust is still present, repeat the process.


Never pour bleach onto the rust. The bleach will react with the rust and set it into the fabric.

Placing the fabric in the dryer with rust still visible will cause the stain to set.



Amanda Flanigan

Amanda Flanigan began writing professionally in 2007. Flanigan has written for various publications, including WV Living and American Craft Council, and has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. Flanigan completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College.