How to Remove Rust Stains from Toilets, Tubs & Sinks

Cleaning Washbasin
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If you’ve ever left a metal-based can of shaving cream on the shower floor, you know how difficult it can be to remove the rust ring that results. Unfortunately, since rust stains may also surface as a result of galvanized pipes or mineral deposits found in iron-rich hard water and well water, avoiding metal-based cans alone won’t prevent rust stains from forming on your fixtures. The good news is that it’s possible to remove bathroom rust stains without a significant amount of time and effort. For the best results, ditch the bleach-based bathroom cleansers — these may actually worsen stubborn stains — and give one of these tried-and-true methods a go.

Barkeeper’s Friend

Barkeeper’s friend, in both powder and liquid forms, is an extraordinarily effective method for removing rust stains from bathroom fixtures. Barkeeper’s Friend will safely remove rust stains and mineral deposits from all toilet bowls and metallic faucet finishes. And, according to the manufacturer, it may also be used to remove stains from sinks, bathtubs and shower basins made of stainless steel, porcelain, Corian, fireclay, ceramic, acrylic, copper, glass, enameled cast iron, fiberglass and solid-surface materials.

Shaw’s Pads

Shaw’s Pads offer a chemical-free, septic tank-friendly approach to rust removal. Equipped with a simple handle and scouring cloth, Shaw’s Pads work on the “elbow grease” principal: Simply wet the pad and gently brush stains away. Use Shaw Pads to remove toilet rings; rust, calcium and lime buildup; grey, green and brown water residue; algae and chemical stains on pool tiles; and hard water and well water residues.

Pumice Stick

Pumice scouring sticks work particularly well for removing rust stains from porcelain. Use Pumice brand sticks to gently scour away mineral deposits, rust, and other stains and scale from sinks, toilets, tubs and showers. And, use them to remove rust and unwanted paint from metal work, piping, tile, masonry and concrete too. Made from 100% natural pumice, these sticks are safe for dermal contact and for use and storage around children and pets.

ZUD Scouring Cleanser

ZUD cleanser employs oxalic acid and a potent combination of abrasives made up of fine ground quartz and pumice to zap rust stains on contact. Available in both liquid and powder form, it dissolves rust, mineral stains, hard water deposits and soap scum. And, according to the manufacturer, it may be used to clean copper, brass, bronze, chromium, iron, pewter and stainless steel. Simply squirt or sprinkle ZUD directly onto rust stains and brush using a toilet cleaning brush or plastic pad. Then, add water to covered ensure that the ZUD solution covers the entire area. Add more ZUD where solution is missing. After the solution has set for about 60-90 minutes, clean the area with the brush and rinse away the solution.

The Works Limeosol

The chief active ingredient in The Works Limeosol is Hydrochloric Acid, which instantly removes rust, hard water stains and mineral deposits from appliances, bathroom fixtures, cement, brick, vinyl, siding, fiberglass, PVC and other materials on contact — no scrubbing required. The Works is tried and true: It’s been around for more than 50 years. And, despite the fact that it contains a dangerous chemical, it’s long been a celebrated favorite among homeowners and home service professionals alike. The Works Limeosol is not recommended for use with septic systems.

Prevent Rust from Coming Back

  1. Install an iron filter or water softener. Because bathroom rust is so frequently the result of iron-rich hard water and well water, installing an iron filter or water softener will go a long way in preventing future stains. Generally speaking, these filters are easy to install, though they can cost upwards of $600.
  2. Keep metal cans away from the bathtub and sink. When in contact with water, cans containing metal rings on their bottoms (e.g., shaving creams, air fresheners, hairsprays, cleansers, etc.) will quickly rust and stain bathroom surfaces. It’s best to store these items in a cabinet away from the bathtub and sink.
  3. Wipe down the bathtub and sink after each use. Rinse and wipe down the sink and bathtub after each use to remove any iron residue.