How to Get Rust Out of Clothes: Simple DIY Stain Removal Tips

Got rust stains on your favorite duds? Don't sweat it. We have all the options to get it out.

Updated June 3, 2024
woman holding shirt with rust stain

No matter how careful you are with your favorite clothes, there's always some stain just ready and waiting to mar them. And rust stains are some of the most obnoxious because they can appear on your clothes seemingly out of nowhere. From brushing up against something rusty outdoors to hidden rust in your washing machine, if you find your clothes with rust stains, don't panic. We have all the info you need about how to get rust out of clothes so you can keep enjoying them. 

How to Get Rust Stains Out of White Clothes

All is not lost if your whites wind up a little rusty. The mineral stains caused by oxidized iron (rust) will come out of your white clothes with these methods.

Use a Hydrogen Peroxide Paste 

If you are trying to remove rust from a piece of white clothing, hydrogen peroxide is a good ingredient to try. Only use hydrogen peroxide on white clothes. 

Hydrogen peroxide solution in brown amber bottle


  • ¼ teaspoon hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
Need to Know

This quantity is appropriate to cover a relatively small rust mark. If the item you wish to clean has a large area of rust, increase each ingredient in proportion as needed. This will help ensure that you have enough paste to cover the mark.


  1. Mix the baking soda and cream of tartar in a small bowl.
  2. Add the hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Stir to form a paste.
  4. If the consistency isn't paste-like, add more dry ingredients (equal parts cream of tartar and baking soda) or hydrogen peroxide until it's the correct thickness.
  5. Using your fingers or a spatula, spread the paste over the rusted area on the piece of clothing.
  6. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  7. Rinse the paste off the fabric.
  8. Wash as usual.

Use Toilet Bowl Cleaner

You can also try a bit of toilet bowl cleaner to remove the rust stains on white clothes only. Since toilet bowl cleaner is caustic, be sure to wear gloves. 


  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Toothbrush
  • Powdered detergent


  1. Apply a drop of toilet bowl cleaner over the stain or stains.
  2. Allow it to sit for a minute.
  3. Dip a wet toothbrush in the detergent.
  4. Scrub the stain.
  5. Rinse.
  6. Wash as usual.

How to Get Rust Out of Any Clothing Color

The following methods will work on any fabric color, including whites.

Add Lemon Juice to the Wash Cycle

Adding lemon juice to the washing machine can be a great way to get rust stains out of clothing. According to Mulberrys Garment Care, this technique is not only safe to use with colored clothing; it can even brighten the color.


  • 1 cup of lemon juice (can be bottled or fresh)
  • Your favorite laundry detergent (in the quantity required for a load of laundry)


  1. Prepare a load of laundry as usual.
  2. Add the laundry detergent.
  3. Pour in a cup of lemon juice.
  4. Wash clothing as usual.
Quick Tip

If your clothes are coming out of the washer rust-stained, your washer may need cleaning. Don't run the clothes through the dryer until you've treated the stain and rewashed them (and cleaned your washing machine). 

Scrub With a Lemon Juice and Salt Paste

Another option using lemon involves making a paste of lemon juice and salt.

Woman squeezing lemon juice in her hand


  • Salt (regular table salt is fine)
  • Lemon juice (can be bottled or fresh)
Need to Know

Use these items in equal quantities, depending on the size of the area that needs to be covered. For relatively small stains, start with ¼ cup of each. Increase quantity proportionally as needed.


  1. Pour salt and lemon juice into a bowl.
  2. Mix to form a paste.
  3. If the consistency isn't paste-like, add more lemon juice or salt until it the mixture reaches the desired consistency.
  4. Using your fingers or a brush, spread the paste over the rusted area on the piece of clothing.
  5. Rub the paste into the stain.
  6. Allow the paste to sit on the garment for about an hour. This option may work even better if you allow the item to sit outside in the sun while the lemon juice and salt mixture is on it.
  7. Rinse off the paste.
  8. Wash the item of clothing as usual.

Related: How to Remove Old & New Rust Stains From Concrete

Quick Tip

Never use bleach to remove rust from fabric because it will set the rust in permanently and could cause its own bleach stains

Remove Rust Stains From Clothes With Vinegar

When it comes to removing a lot of stains, white vinegar can be your best friend. Well, white vinegar and the sun. White vinegar will even help get out dried blood stains and remove color bleeding from your clothes, so keep those tips in your arsenal, too.

White vinegar for laundry


  • White vinegar
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • White towel
  • Toothbrush


  1. Add an ample amount of straight white vinegar to the rust stain.
  2. Allow it to sit on the garment for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Blot with a white towel.
  4. Lay it out in the sun until the white vinegar dries completely.
  5. Dip a toothbrush into the detergent.
  6. Scrub the area.
  7. Rinse and wash as normal

Master the Art of Removing Rust From Clothing

If you try one of these methods and it doesn't work the first time, don't despair. Depending on how severely the item is stained or how long the rust mark has been there, it may take a few tries with different methods for removing old stains from clothes to get the best results. If these super-cheap DIY remedies won't work, you may even want to purchase a commercial rust-cleaning product appropriate for use with clothing.

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How to Get Rust Out of Clothes: Simple DIY Stain Removal Tips