How to Remove Rust Stains From Toilets, Tubs, and Sinks

person cleaning bathtub

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Rust and other stains on bathroom fixtures occur from hard water mineral deposits. This can be more evident in homes using well water, or city water with high iron content. Staining also occurs from rusty galvanized iron water pipes leaking into a sink, malfunctioning toilet components leaking into the back of a toilet bowl, or a metal item left sitting on a wet surface.

These rust stains can be difficult to remove. Chronic staining may be irreversible as rust may have etched itself into the porcelain. However, most rust stains can be successfully removed with the right products.

Regular toilet bowl cleaners, powdered chlorine-based cleansers, or regular household food stain cleansers with chlorine bleach will not be effective on rust stains. You can try removing hard water stains naturally. But you'll want to learn how to remove iron stains using these commercial cleaners meant for rust problems.

  • 01 of 04

    Scrub Pad

    ShawsPads scrubbers

    ShawsPads are a simple, safe, and effective chemical-free solution to remove toilet rings and rust stains. The pads are safe for septic systems, but you'll need to use some good old-fashioned elbow grease to make the product work.

    Purchase the pads and the optional attachable plastic handle. The handle makes it easier to position the pad under the rim of the toilet. 

    Wet the pad and scrub the rusty area with short, vigorous strokes. The pad removes the scale and rust from the porcelain. Rinse the area with clean water when finished scrubbing. 

  • 02 of 04

    Pumice Stick

    Pumie heavy-duty scouring stick
    US Pumice

    Pumie Scouring Stick, from the United States Pumice Company, is a pumice product that works well for removing rust stains from porcelain. Wet the pumice bar under running water, then rub it back and forth on the stain. This abrasive rubbing action creates a pumice paste that cleans and polishes the surface. In addition to rust, it'll remove mineral deposits, scale, toilet rings, and even removes kitchen grease buildup in ovens and cookware. Rinse away the residue once the stain is gone.

  • 03 of 04

    Chemical Scouring Cleanser

    Zud cleanser
    Malco Products

    ZUD by the makers of Spray-n-Wash works because it blends oxalic acid with finely ground quartz and pumice abrasives to rid rust stains. The combination is potent, and not recommended for septic systems. 

    Squirt or sprinkle ZUD directly on stains, then scrub with a toilet cleaning brush, abrasive sponge, or pad. Add more water to the bowl or sink to cover the stain with ZUD solution. It may be difficult to add enough extra water in the toilet bowl to cover the stain, in which case ZUD offers a "cream cleanser" version. Wait for 60 to 90 minutes, then clean the area with the brush or sponge. Flush the toilet or rinse away the solution.

  • 04 of 04

    Chemical Liquid Cleaner

    The Works cleaner
    HomeCare Labs

    The Works is a line of cleaning solutions that's over 50 years old. The products won't require that much work on your part, but they are are strong, fast-acting, and can cause serious skin and eye irritation if not used carefully and correctly. You'll find sprays and liquid toilet bowl cleaners formulated to remove rust stains.

    Apply or spray the product on, leave it on for a few minutes, and then rinse the rust away. Products contain two types of acid (sulfamic and oxalic) and should not be used in septic systems. Once you learn how to get rid of rust stains from sinks and toilets, you'll want to use these products for rust stains in all of your appliances, pots, pans, coffee makers, showerheads, and even outdoors on cement, brick, and exterior siding.