Skip to content
A group of children getting dirty digging and playing in a muddy trench.

How to Remove Rust Stains from Clothes

When it comes to laundry, most of us know how to resolve common problems like wine stains on cotton, but how often do you have to think about how to remove rust from clothes?

Rust stains are more common than you might think. Metal fittings like poppers and studs occasionally rust in the washing machine, and adventurous kids might rub against rusty patches while riding their bikes or playing around in the yard. Bright orange rust stains don’t seem to come out on a normal wash cycle, and you may be tempted to throw away the clothes in despair – but don’t! Read on to find out how to get rust out of clothes.  

Getting rust stains out of clothes with natural remedies

Rust is mostly made up of iron oxide, which just so happens to chemically react with certain common pantry items. Try one of these pre-treatments before you wash with OMO to help shift those stubborn marks.

Remember - always test the method on a hidden area of the fabric before continuing.  

White vinegar

A natural color preserver and odor remover, white vinegar can be used to help treat rust stains.

  1. Lay the rust-stained part of the clothing in a shallow tray, and cover with about one cubic centimeter of white vinegar.
  2. Massage it in for a few seconds, then place it outside in the sun.
  3. When the stain has started to fade, it’s time to rinse the fabric in cold water, and add it into your usual wash with OMO.


It might sound strange, but the starch in potatoes can help draw out stains like rust.

  1. Cut a large baking potato in half, then cover the cut face of one half with baking soda or salt.
  2. Rub this into the rust-stained fabric until you see the stain start to fade
  3. Wash as usual with OMO


Another food that can be used to remove rust stains, the citric acid of lemons can be used to help tackle rust stains.

  1. Cut a lemon in half, and cover the cut face in salt.
  2. Rub the salt and lemon juice into the stain until you start to see the stain fade.
  3. Rinse in cold water, and repeat as many times as necessary.
  4. Wash the soiled item of clothing in your normal load with a little OMO.

Top tip - If you’re trying to remove a rust stain from upholstery or a non-washable fabric, then you can use the lemon and salt method overnight. Just brush off the excess salt in the morning and dab with a clean cloth and a little plain water.  

How to remove rust From clothes when natural solutions fail

So, how do you get rust out of clothes when natural remedies have failed? Or what if you simply don’t have time to test one of these pre-treatments on your clothes?

While these methods will help to remove rust stains, you may need to repeat the process or wash your clothes a few times to get rid of the stain entirely. Alternatively, you can try applying OMO Auto Powder in a thick paste mixed with water. Let it stand for 30 minutes before rinsing clean and washing the item in the washing machine on a cool cycle. To give yourself the best chance of achieving great results when getting rid of rust stains, don’t forget to follow these final tips:

  • DON’T use bleach! It contains an oxidising agent, which will make the stain worse
  • DO use cold water when rinsing the garment. Hot water can “set” the stain, making it worse
  • DO treat the stain as quickly as possible – it can make it easier to treat

Rust may seem like a tough stain to beat, but follow these tips and you'll be rid of that orange mess in no time.