How to Remove Rust From a Washing Machine Tub

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.
Image Credit: Varvara Kalashnikova/iStock/GettyImages

Rust can find its way to the most undesirable of places, including the washing machine. Like all other appliances, washing machines should be regularly cleaned and maintained to help prevent surprises, such as rust. Finding rust in the drum of the washer means that your clothes may come out with some stains that weren't there when they went in to get washed. Before loading up your machine, take steps to eliminate the rust so that your laundry comes out clean and ready to be dried.


Cleaning With Lemon Juice or Vinegar

The acid in lemon juice or vinegar makes either household product the perfect combatant against rust buildup. They are an inexpensive way to treat pesky rust that has made its way into your washing drum, and the best part is that it requires very little effort to complete the removal process.


Video of the Day

Step 1: Prep the Washing Machine

Before beginning your rust treatment, check the washing machine drum for any stray articles of clothing that may have been forgotten. Socks and other small items can often be overlooked, so make sure to remove all these items. You also need to check your machine for any foreign objects that could have been left in the drum by accident or could have fallen into the washer.

Step 2: Add Vinegar or Lemon Juice

Measure out 2 cups of lemon juice or distilled white vinegar and pour it directly into the drum. Let the liquid sit in the drum for an hour to allow the acid time to work on any rust.


Step 3: Run a Machine Cycle

Run the machine on a regular cycle using the hottest water option on your machine. Do not add clothes during this process. The acidity of the lemon juice or vinegar will work throughout the cycle to remove the rust found in the drum.

Additional Rust Treatment Options

There may be trouble spots in the washing machine tub where the rust is more concentrated and was not removed during the lemon juice or vinegar treatment. If this is the case, apply WD-40 to the troublesome areas and wipe away the excess product with a clean cloth. The WD-40 will work on tougher spots of corrosion in the tub.


If lemon juice and vinegar are not quite doing the trick, it might also be time to try a chemical cleaner. CLR is a rust-removal product that you can use to treat your rusting washing machine tub as well. If you have a front-loading machine, remove all laundry items from the washer, add 1/2 cup of CLR to the detergent dispenser, and run the machine on a normal cycle.

For a top-loading machine, again remove all laundry items first; then begin the regular wash cycle and stop the machine just before the tub begins to toss and turn. Add 1/2 cup of CLR to the full tub of water and then let the washing machine finish the cycle. With both types of washing machines, run an extra cycle without the CLR product to rinse away any remaining product.



Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...