Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated January 27, 2020)
Rust is not an attractive addition to any home decor, especially in the bathroom. Follow these simple procedures and you will not only be able to clean these stains from your home, but prevent them from ever coming back. There is a warning that you must be made aware of though: Be sure that you do not use any form of chlorine bleach. Chlorine has a tendency to set iron stains into whatever surface they are on. Avoid also utilizing harsh abrasives as they may discolor or harm the fixture.
If the stains are relatively new, meaning that they were deposited within the past week, removing them is an extremely easy task. These fresh stains are easily removed if you use some form of heavy-duty cleaning solution or compound that includes heavy concentrations of tri-sodium phosphate in its ingredients. Using this material, all that you are required to do is apply the cleaner with a moist cleaning pad. Rub the area until the stain is removed, then rinse and wipe the area dry. Polish the fixture as needed.
Stains that are heaver and more set-in are a different story. These are typically the stains that have been around for a while longer, say about a month or more. Such stains will need a stronger cleanser, but one that is still safe and friendly towards your bathroom. The main ingredient that you are looking for in this cleaner is called tri-chloro-melanine. Products such as Zud and Bar Keeper's Friend contain the necessary ingredient and work quite well—just be sure that you follow any directions on the packaging. For hard set-in stains, dissolve the cleaning compound in hot water to the consistency of a paste. Spread this paste onto the stained area and let it dry. Remove the dried paste, then rinse off and polish the area.
Once you clean the stains you then have the job of preventing the return of those nasty rust spots. Since these stains come from the iron content in the water, from local normal concentrations or the iron pipes, the only real way to prevent any recurrence is to install an iron filter on your water supply. The filters are easy to install; simply follow the instructions that are included with your purchase. This piece of equipment is expensive (it can run between $600 and $700 uninstalled), but is worth it for those who are adamant about never having to go through the process of cleaning again.
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