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How to remove rust stains from clothing

Garden tools with rust

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Whether you’ve just used dirty gardening tools or cleaned the barbecue, you might be facing rust stains. Rust stains on clothing happen more easily than anyone would like. Unfortunately, rust stains are not so easy to remove from clothes, but with the right approach you can quickly get clothes and other textiles clean again. Find out how to remove rust stains from clothing. 

Remove rust stains from clothing—step by step

These stains on clothing or textiles are a nasty side effect of an annoying household nuisance—rust. Although there is no guarantee that rust stains can be completely removed, the following treatment is definitely worth a try.

The sooner rust particles are removed from the fibers, the better the results. Unfortunately, if left for a long time, rust stains can worsen once you try and wash them out. If possible, wash your clothes or textiles as soon as you spot the stain. Here’s how to remove rust stains from clothing:

  • Get a stain-fighting detergent, such as Persil® ProClean® Plus OXI Power.
  • A stain remover can help with removing rust stains, so try and find a powerful one.
  • Pretreat the rust stains according to the instructions on the products you have chosen.
  • Wash the pretreated garment in the washing machine at the highest possible temperature according to the care label on the garment.
  • If the rust stains are not completely removed on your first try, repeat the first few steps.
  • If pretreatment and washing don’t work, you can also take your garment to a professional dry cleaner. Rust stains can be removed chemically, but only professionals will be equipped to do so.

Important steps for removing rust stains—pretreatments

Make sure to choose a stain remover and detergent according to the fabric type of your garment and the stain you want to remove. If pretreating using liquid detergent, it is best to briefly test the fibers and color of the fabric on an inconspicuous spot to make sure it won’t stain your clothes. It is best to let the stain remover of your choice soak in for at least half an hour.

Removing rust stains from clothes by washing them

Pretreatment is only half the battle, and you’ll need to follow up pretreatment with a good wash—these steps follow the same essential steps as washing jeans, for example, so if you’re already a laundry pro with a great laundry routine, this will be second nature to you:

  • After pretreatment, put the rust-stained clothing in the washing machine and select a washing cycle with the highest possible temperature suitable for the garment. The temperature at which a garment can be washed is indicated on the care label.
  • Choose a detergent that matches the type of material and color of the garment. Colored fabrics are best washed with a color detergent, and light or white fabrics with a heavy-duty detergent such as Persil® OXI Power.
  • Very delicate fabrics, such as silk, should not be machine washed. It is best to soak them in lukewarm water after pretreatment and then wash them by hand to remove the rust stains.
  • If the rust stains have not disappeared after the first wash, it is best to repeat the procedure before sending the item to the dry cleaner.

How to remove rust stains from white clothing

Especially on white clothing or light-colored fabrics, rust stains are hard to miss. It can be really challenging to completely remove rust stains from white clothing. It is possible that only dry cleaners can help you here—but it is still worth trying to remove the rust stains by using a stain remover and a washing machine. If nothing helps to get your white clothes white again, you can also consider dyeing the garment so that the stains are less noticeable.

Hopefully this was helpful. Got more stains? Check out our many laundry tips and tricks for all sorts of tough stains and spots. And make sure you register with Ask Team Clean to get more advice and rewards sent to you!