rust stain on carpet

How to Remove Rust Stains from Carpet

Noticed a reddish-brown mark on your carpet? It may well be a rust stain. These are caused by iron or steel components like sofa legs, radiators or even parts of children’s toys being exposed to moisture and oxidising.

This results in metal corrosion and the formation of rust which can flake off onto your carpet and cause discolouration.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to tackle the problem. Learn how to remove rust stains from carpet in six different ways below, from gentle home remedies to tougher chemical solutions.


Natural Fibre Carpets

Provided your carpet can be wet cleaned, you have several options for removing rust stains.

However, you should never use strong chemicals or acidic cleaners like white vinegar, as these are generally too harsh for natural fibre carpets.

Likewise, if you’re working with a delicate wool carpet, don’t soak or scrub the fibres, as this could permanently alter the fabric’s texture.

Washing up liquid or wool detergent

remove rust carpet stain with washing up or wool detergent

  1. Before applying any cleaning products to the stain, you’ll want to remove as much of the excess rust particles from the fibres as possible. To do this, use either a blunt butter knife or spoon to gently work out the visible flakes, then vacuum up the freed particles.
  2. Next, select a light coloured or clear washing up liquid to prevent any further staining. Fairy Liquid Lemon is a good option, as is Ecover Camomile & Clementine Washing Up Liquid. Otherwise, you can try a gentle wool detergent like Persil’s Silk and Wool Washing Liquid that is specially designed to lift dirt from delicate fabrics.
  3. To apply the soap, first mix 1 tablespoon of washing up liquid or detergent with two cups of warm water to create a sudsy mixture. Then dab it onto the stain using a clean, squeezed out sponge to avoid over-wetting the carpet fibres. Once covered, leave the soap on the surface for 5-10 minutes to help loosen any remaining rust.

Tip: resist the urge to rub the stain, as this may spread it around or push it in deeper.

  1. When time’s up, take a dry white towel or some kitchen paper and blot the stain to remove the excess moisture, soap residue and the rust. Continue blotting with clean, dry sections of the towel or fresh kitchen paper until the rust stops transferring.
  2. To dry, put some paper towel over the damp spot and a heavy book on top to help it absorb the moisture. When dry, use a vacuum to pull the fibres back up into place.


Carpet stain remover

vanish carpet stain remover

If you can still see some discolouration after trying the soap and water method, a carpet stain remover may be your best option.

For example, Vanish Oxi Action Carpet Stain Remover Spray is safe for use on most carpet fabrics and upholstery, and especially effective on light coloured carpets.

With that said, always do a patch test on a discreet area to check for colour fastness.


Synthetic Carpets

If your stained carpet is synthetic, there are even more cleaning options available to you. From natural solutions to more heavy duty formulas, here’s how to remove rust stains from carpet:

White vinegar & salt

clean carpet with white vinegar and salt

White vinegar is a natural and affordable household cleaner that has a range of different purposes. It’s high acidity also makes it ideal for dissolving rust stains on synthetic carpets.

  1. Start by scraping off and vacuuming up any loose debris as above.
  2. Next, dampen the stain with a small amount of warm water on clean white cloth.
  3. Then apply several drops of white vinegar to the cloth (or dip it in) and use it to blot the stain. Keep dabbing at the rust mark until the brown-reddish colour stops transferring.
  4. Next, sprinkle a layer of table salt over the damp patch and leave to sit for half an hour.

Tip: if you’re cleaning a light coloured carpet and the stain is particularly dark, try adding a few drops of lemon juice on top of the salt to create a paste with natural lightening power.

  1. After that time, blot the stain again and the salt’s mild abrasiveness should dislodge any leftover rust particles. The salt will also absorb excess moisture to help prevent mildew.
  2. To complete the process, vacuum up the salt and rust particles and fluff up the fibres.


Hydrogen peroxide

clean coffee stain on carpet with hydrogen peroxide

For tougher rust stains, apply undiluted hydrogen peroxide directly to the stain and leave it to soak for 10 minutes.

Then use a soft brush to agitate the dirt and help work it out of the fibres. Try not to scrub too firmly as this can cause pilling or create fuzz – particularly on nylon carpets.

Finish off by sponging on some Vanish Carpet Shampoo, then use a wet-dry vacuum cleaner to suck up the residue and dry the carpet. Or you can blot it with a towel and leave it to air dry.

Tip: Always do a patch test in a non-visible area first as hydrogen peroxide can lighten dyes.



remove carpet stains with ammonia

Ammonia is another great multipurpose cleaner that can be used to remove rust stains from carpet.

Simply mix 1 tablespoon of ammonia with two cups of warm water to dilute, then apply to the stain with either a spray bottle or sponge (wearing gloves).

Leave it to soak in for 5 minutes, then blot with a towel until the rust stops transferring and the carpet looks clean.

Finally, clean the area with soap and water or carpet shampoo to remove lingering odours from the ammonia, then blot dry. This will also help to make sure the fabric is safe for pets and kids.

Discover more ways you can use ammonia for cleaning, plus tips for using it safely on our blog.



clean carpet with wd-40

One final method for how to remove rust from carpet is with WD40 – yes you read that right!

This well-known all-in-one rust remover, degreaser and lubricant works to displace set-in carpet stains by loosening the bonds between the fibres and the caked in rust.

All you need to do is spray on enough liquid to coat the stain and leave it to sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Once the WD40 has been absorbed, use a damp sponge to work the stain out of the carpet.

The oil in the formula will make it easier to wipe away the debris, while helping to drive out moisture too. When you’re done, take a clean rag and blot out the leftover residue.

And that’s it! Explore our site for more carpet cleaning hacks and clever uses for WD40, plus a host of stain removal tips for common spillages like coffee and red wine.