8 Ways To Remove Rust Stains from Sinks, Toilets, and Tubs

8 Ways To Remove Rust Stains from Sinks, Toilets, and Tubs

The ghastly orange and red rust stains on the bathroom sink, toilet, and tub drive you crazy! You may have important company coming over and want to make a good impression. Maybe you are just tired of looking at them. Whatever your reason, there is no time like the present to remove those unsightly stains. However, the question remains, how do you go about it? Keeping unsightly rust stains away requires cleaning with the right products, like acid-based cleaners. Unfortunately, an all-purpose bathroom cleaner won’t do the trick, and chlorine beach can make the stains permanent! Luckily, the expert team at CAM Total Service has just the advice you need to teach you how to remove rust stains from sinks, toilets, and tubs. The best part? These methods meet the 3 Es: cost-effective, efficient, and easy! 


What Causes Rust Stains on Sinks, Toilets, and Tubs

Rust usually appears on uncoated metal surfaces when oxygen and iron react with moisture forming iron oxide. That is why rust stains typically appear on the edge of your sink, where you might leave a razor blade or shaving cream can. However, rust can also form near the tub and sink drains and toilet bowels if your water has high levels of iron bacteria, iron particulates, iron plumbing pipes, untreated metal components in your toilet tank, or rusty water heaters.

Stains often appear in homes with a lot of hard water – like Southwest Florida, where the water has between 121 and 180 milligrams per liter of hard minerals. Iron bacteria combine with minerals to create rust particles that cling to porcelain or enamel surfaces (the material your sink, tub, and toilet are usually made from). Sadly, the stains will continue to reappear after cleaning unless you fix the root cause: what’s in your water. 


How Often Should I Clean Rust Stains on Toilets, Tubs, and Sinks?

We recommend giving your bathroom a good scrubbing once a week. During this weekly clean, pay extra special attention to the areas of your bathroom fixtures that tend to accumulate rust. In addition, try thoroughly drying your showers, sinks, and tubs after each use. Doing so will help prevent rust particles in the water from settling on the surfaces and sitting long enough to form a rust stain.

Pro Tip: Strive to remove all metal toiletries, such as your razors, shampoo bottles, or shaving cream cans, from the shower area and sink to prevent oxidation (the process that leads to rust).   

Pro Tip 2: When removing rust stains in the toilet bowl, flush your toilet and immediately turn off the water. You want to prevent the toilet bowl from refilling as this will make cleaning the rusty areas easier and prevent your cleaner from becoming diluted.


What Equipment Do I Need To Clean Rust Stains?

Luckily, removing the rust stains in your house does not require a lot of expensive materials or tools. In fact, you may have many of these items already! 


  • Toilet bowl brush
  • Scrub brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Spray bottle
  • Shaw’s pads


Cleaning Items 

  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Cleaning vinegar
  • Cream of tartar
  • Baking soda
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Pumice powder or stick
  • Commercial rust remover
  • Plastic food wrap 


How To Remove Rust Stains 


1. Lemons, Limes, and Grapefruits

You can buy powdered citric acid from the grocery or drug store. You can also use fresh citrus fruit to scrub away the rust stains in your bathroom.

If you use a fresh citrus fruit, follow these steps:

  1. Slice the lemon, lime, or grapefruit
  2. Dip the cut edge in salt or baking soda
  3. The salt or baking soda provides a gentle abrasive to help remove the stain.

If the area is heavily stained:

  1. Mix up a paste of lemon juice and baking soda and apply it to the rusty area.
  2. Cover the paste with some plastic wrap to keep it moist
  3. Leave it alone for two hours to help break down the rust particles.
  4. Scrub it off with a scrubber brush

This is an inexpensive and easy way to remove the rust with materials you already have around the house!


2. Shaw’s Pads

Suppose you feel like getting a little arm workout in and applying some elbow grease. In that case, Shaw’s pads are an excellent, effective, and environmentally friendly choice for cleaning stains on ceramic and porcelain surfaces. We swear by them because they work well and don’t scratch your surfaces. Look for Shaw’s Pads or order them online at your local hardware store!


3. Distilled White Vinegar

The acetic acid in distilled white vinegar is a great rust stain fighter! Like citric acid, you can use it weekly to keep rust stains from sticking around. You can use food-grade distilled white vinegar or cleaning vinegar (which has a much higher acidity level for those persistent stains). 

  1. Every week, spray the vinegar on the rust stains in your toilet, tub, or sink.
  2. Use a scrub brush to clean the area.
  3. Rinse well

If the stains are very old, let it sit for at least two hours (overnight is best) before scrubbing and rinsing with fresh water.


4. Cream of Tartar 

Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) is basically a powdered form of tartaric acid (a rust fighter)! Commonly used to stabilize whipped egg whites, it is also great at removing rust. 

  1. Sprinkle the cream of tartar on the rust-stained areas of tubs and sinks
  2. Scrub it with a damp nylon-bristled brush
  3. Rinse it off


  1. Make a paste with a few drops of water into a few teaspoons of cream of tartar
  2. Apply it to the stains
  3. Again, keep it moist by wrapping it in plastic wrap.
  4. Leave it for several hours so it can work its magic. 

If you have a particularly stubborn stain, you can also make a paste by combining cream of tartar with hydrogen peroxide, scrubbing it into the rusty red stain, letting it sit for several hours, and then scrubbing again!


5. Pumice, Anyone?

Pumice is a naturally occurring volcanic rock and comes in powder or stone form. They are gentle enough to prevent scratches to your porcelain, enamel, or fiberglass while letting you get the desired results. Wet the stained surface with water and the powder or stone. Make sure to keep the area wet while using the abrasive.  


6. Baking soda and Vinegar

If you have a particularly stubborn stain, try to make a thick paste using three parts baking soda to one part white vinegar. Apply the mixture to the rusty surface with a scrub sponge, and let the combination sit for at least an hour. Hopefully, the first time’s the charm, and the stain will disappear after you rinse it off! However, if it is incredibly persistent, you may need to repeat the process several times! 


7. Use Commercial Rust Removers 

Yes, this one is pretty obvious, but a commercial rust remover can work wonders! If you’ve gone down your supermarket or hardware store’s cleaner aisle, you know there are many products to choose from! Indeed, rust removers will immediately oxidize the rust without any scrubbing! Just apply the remover, wait, and rinse it away!  

However, many homeowners are not fans of commercial rust removers due to the harsh chemicals they contain that give off horrible fumes, making you lightheaded. In addition, they can cause burns on your skin if you do not handle them properly. Finally, they are not a good choice for the health of our planet. Some brands are harsher than others. If you opt for a commercial rust remover, time to read the labels carefully, follow the directions, and store and dispose of the products properly.


8. Time To Change Your Pipes! 

Typically a deteriorated water heater or rusty pipe will cause rust particles to enter your water supply. In addition to causing unsightly stains in your bathroom, these rusty pipes also pose a health concern. If you think the rust issue stems from rusty pipes, call a local, professional plumber you can trust today! Chances are you need to replace your pipes. A plumber can recommend the correct type of pipes for you and help you through the process.


Keep Rust Stains Away With CAM Total Service!

If you find that the rust is just a byproduct of a more significant plumbing issue and need to call in a professional, give our licensed, experienced, and knowledgeable team at CAM Total Service a call! To learn more about the best approach for dealing with hard water problems and ways to improve the overall health of your pipes, contact us today! We help hundreds of homeowners get their pipes in tip-top shape. Hopefully, these simple tips helped you remove rust stains from sinks, toilets, and tubs in your house!

If you are interested in seeing what’s coming down the pipes in the world of plumbing, follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Published: February 6, 2023
Author: suiteedge
Categories : Uncategorized