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How to Remove Resistant Rust Stains

When iron corrodes, a crumbly buildup forms that we know as rust. How do you get it off your tools, appliances, and clothes? Try these tips -- some of which were excerpted from "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook."

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

What to Know


In your home, rust is usually caused by iron or manganese in your water supply. The culprit can be a rusty water heater or rusty water lines, so you'll want to have these checked. Obtain a water sample and send it to a water-treatment equipment company or testing laboratory for analysis. To find a local facility, contact your local Cooperative Extension System Office (see a complete list of local offices at

What to Do


On clothes: Try a commercial rust treatment like RoVer Rust Remover and follow the label instructions. For a less toxic alternative, try a citrus solvent.


On tools: Donning work gloves, rub the affected area with motor oil (which acts as a lubricant) using a steel-wool pad (which acts as an abrasive). You can also try using naval jelly as a rust dissolver.


On the carpet: Apply soapy water and rinse. Repeat this process until improvement stops. If stain persists, you may need to call a professional who will have access to more powerful cleaners.


Another favorite hiding place for rust: the outdoors. Martha shows you how to restore rusty patio furniture to its former (shinier) glory: