A girl standing on a bridge surrounded by rust.

How to remove rust stains from white clothes

It’s not always easy to spot rust, whether it’s on the old staircase railing you’re about to grab, the weathered garden bench you’re sitting on, or the bike you’re riding – but when it gets on your white clothes, you’ll know about it. Don’t worry: with luck (and Surf excel) on your side, rust stain removal might not be as hard as you think. Here’s how to remove rust from clothes like a genuine laundry pro.

How to get rust stains out of clothes that are white

Like most stains, rust looks far worse when it’s sitting on a pale backdrop, like your favourite white work shirt. Don’t let this deceive you: removing rust stains from clothes can be a cinch, although really ground-in stains might need some extra work.

Here’s how to banish rust stains from white clothes in six simple steps:

  1. Hands off! You can actually make the stain worse by touching it or rubbing it in, so try not to handle it too much.
  2. Pre-treat the rust stain. There are two pre-treatments that can help you remove rust from clothes: 

    - Lemon juice: You can either squeeze juice straight out of the lemon onto the rust stain, or make a thick paste out of lemon juice and salt and then then (very gently) apply that to the area. 
    - White vinegar: White vinegar is another cupboard staple that works well on rust stains. Pour out a small amount and leave it to work for a few minutes before moving on to the next step.
  3. Leave the garment outside in the sun. Once you’ve applied your lemon juice or vinegar, hang the item out in direct sunlight for an hour or so. This should help to fade the rust stain.
  4. Wash with Surf excel Matic Liquid. Read the care label on the garment for washing instructions.
  5. Check for remaining stains. If you can still see rust marks on your clothes, go back to step 2 and repeat the process.
  6. Let the garment dry. When you’re absolutely, completely certain that the stain is gone, let the garment air-dry – in the sun if possible.

Warning: Remember to read your labels! Check out the advice on your garment’s care label, and the labels of any products you’re planning to use, before beginning any stain removal treatment. Always test your method on a hidden part of the garment before treating a larger area. With delicate materials, it’s usually best to consult a professional dry cleaner.

That’s it – all there is to know about how to clean rust stains from clothes. Just remember to have patience, repeat as often as needed, and you’ll see them off in the end.


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