There are plenty of ways that rust can find its way into your bathtub. Whether it’s from you using it for cleaning or rusty pipes, rust stains can be unsightly, especially when you want to take a nice relaxing bath.
So, this leads us to the subject of this article: how to remove rust stains from a tub. There are plenty of options, all of which are suitable for plastic or enamel bathtubs.
Most modern baths are made from acrylic or coated fibreglass or steel. Older baths might be enamelled cast iron, although this is just as easy to clean.
Bear in mind that other materials (copper, marble, etc.) might require different cleaning methods.
If you have a bath made out of something that’s not acrylic or enamel, base your cleaning options on the specific material.
For “standard” bathtubs, you have the following cleaning options.
Method 1: Rust Remover
We’ll start with the most obvious solution: rust remover. Rust removal products such as Jenolite Rust Stain Remover are solvents that’ll basically melt off rust stains.
You’ll want to ensure the space is well ventilated before applying because you might find you get a bit lightheaded otherwise.
Also, make sure the product you choose is suitable for your needs. Multi-surface cleaners should be fine, but check the surface you need to list it on is specifically mentioned.
As for instructions, they’re pretty simple. Steps may vary, but they should consist of spraying it on, leaving it to soak, and washing it off.
Method 2: Pumice Stone
If your bathtub is made of porcelain, you can be a bit more heavy-handed with your cleaning options.
An effective and environmentally-friendly solution is pumice stone. Simply scrub the stain with pumice and it should lift it right out.
Rinse it off with water and repeat until the stain is gone.
Avoid using pumice on acrylic baths because it’s too abrasive. You could end up scratching the bath rather than removing the stain.
Method 3: Lemon Juice or White Vinegar
Lemon juice and vinegar are weak acids that can help remove light stains. If possible, just pour some directly onto the stain and leave it to soak. You should be able to rinse the stain off, or repeat until it’s gone.
However, if the rust stain is coming from the tap, you’ll need to mix up a paste that you can apply instead.
The best thing to use is salt, although this might be too abrasive for an acrylic tub. Either way, leave the paste to sit for 20-30 minutes and then remove with a scouring sponge.
Alternatively, you could soak a cloth in lemon juice or vinegar and cover the stain with it. This is a good option for acrylic tubs as it doesn’t require any abrasive products.
You might see some tips that suggest mixing vinegar or lemon juice with bicarbonate of soda to make a paste. There’s no point in this, as the products neutralise each other, leaving you with salty water and carbon dioxide, none of which is helpful for removing rust!
Method 4: Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a cleaning solution used for all kinds of purposes. It can help with stain removal as well as disinfecting. As with the method above, we’ll mix it with a powder to help form a paste.
In this instance, we’ll use bicarbonate of soda. Mix one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts bicarbonate of soda and apply to the rusty areas. You might want to try a patch test first on a hidden part of the bath.
If you’re happy to go ahead, leave it for 30 minutes and then rinse off. Check all the paste is gone before you try cleaning the area, as you don’t want it to be abrasive. Repeat this process until the stain is gone.
Method 5: Citric Acid
Citric acid is the compound in lemon juice that makes it an effective cleaner. If you need a more concentrated acidic hit, you can buy pure citric acid as powder (such as Cillit Bang citric acid).
Mix it into a thick paste using water and then apply it to the stain. Leave it to sit for 20 minutes and rinse away with clean water. Wipe down with a soft cloth to remove any remnants and repeat until the stain is gone.
As with the other options above, it should be fine to use on an acrylic tub. However, avoid scrubbing the paste itself to avoid scratching your bathtub. Make sure it’s completely rinsed off before you start applying elbow grease.
Hopefully, one of these options will help you remove rust stains from tub. Unsurprisingly, rust remover will be the most effective, but the other products are arguably a bit safer to use around the home.
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.