Removing Rust Stains from Cotton

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated December 13, 2010)

Removing rust stains from cotton can often be a difficult task for many people. One of the reasons for this is actually really simple in that cotton, while a fairly durable material, can be a difficult one to clean sometimes. Add to this the fact that rust seems to never truly go away (at least when it is on fabric) and you can easily see how difficult removing these kinds of stains can be at first glance. However, removing rust stains from cotton isn't that difficult if you use one of these methods.

Use a little caution before you use any of these methods though. Some of them can quite easily discolor cotton fabric if you are not careful. Always test out the method on a scrap piece of cotton, or in an inconspicuous location prior to actually implementing. If there is any discoloration then you know not to use that particular method.

  • Chemicals can help. Many higher end camera shops carry some chemicals that you can purchase to develop your own photographs, or if you are creative, use to help remove rust stains from cotton. You can use one of two chemicals to help remove iron (rust) stains from cotton. These two chemicals are called sodium thiosulfate, and potassium thiosulfate. Simply add a teaspoon full of the chemical to a glass of water, and stir until it has dissolved. Soak the cotton fabric in the solution for several minutes, and the rust will slowly fade away. Rinse the fabric clean in water.
  • Make a paste. Many department stores carry a cleaning product that is called Iron Out, which you can use to help remove rust stains from cotton. This cleaning product usually comes in a powder form, so you will need to make a paste out of it. Apply the paste to the stained area, and allow it to dry out. Gently scrub and rinse the paste away, and you should notice that the stain is dissolved as well.
  • CLR will work. CLR Calcium, Lime, and Rust Remover) is a product that is surprisingly gentle and effective at removing things like rust stains. Simply soak the stained cotton fabric in some CLR for a few minutes, and then remove. Once you have removed the stained fabric from the CLR wash it as you normally would.
  • For white cotton only. Use a little bit of Dawn, or Plain Palmolive dish detergent, CLR and warm water to wash the rust stains away. On the average you will only need to use six cups of warm water, one shot glass of detergent, and one shot glass of CLR. Be sure that you are wearing some rubber gloves, and begin hand washing the stains away. The rubber gloves will help protect your hands from the CLR, and allow you to get a better grip on the material while you are washing it. After you have rinsed the material until you only see clear water, soak it in a solution that is 50% warm water and 50% hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes. Rinse well after that time has passed. Now, wash the material as you normally would in the laundry. Dry the cotton outside if you are able too. If you use this method on any cotton fabric that has colors, be aware that those colors will fade.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

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