Go Back to Shop

The Secret to Beating Rust Stains on Clothes

September 30, 2021

It happens to everyone – you drop that dumbbell or rub up against a rusty barbell plate, and boom! Rust stain on your favorite workout gear. Even high-quality activewear can’t dodge rust stains 100% of the time, despite stain-resistant fabric technology.

But removing rust stains isn’t as easy as it sounds. In fact, it’s one of the toughest clothing stains to remove. But there is hope! Don’t toss that stained gear just yet. We’re spilling the secrets to removing rust stains from clothes to help preserve your favorite workout gear.


You Gotta Understand the Stain Before You Treat It

First things first – you need to understand your stain before you treat it. There’s a wide variety of stain types that your workout gear might encounter: sweat, blood, tears, rust, that protein shake – you name it, it can happen. 

The real secret to learning how to remove rust stains from clothes is respecting the chemistry of the stain. Stain treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all kinda thing. What works on food stains might not work on sweat stains. And what works for bloodstains might not work for food stains. 

Stains can be sneaky, and they’re not always as they appear. What might appear as a rust stain might actually be a lookalike. For example, stains from caramelized sugar and benzoyl peroxide often appear similar in color to rust stains. So before you start going gung-ho on that rust stain, make sure it’s actually a rust stain first


What NOT to Do to Remove Rust Stains from Clothes

Understanding how to remove rust stains from clothes is as much about knowing what not to do as it is about knowing how to treat it. 

One thing you don’t want to do with rust stains is to use chlorine bleach. The chlorine will react with the rust and will end up making the stain permanent. That’s the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve.

Remember: don’t put your garment in the dryer until after the stain is removed. Once you toss it in the dryer, the heat will help set the stain and make it even more challenging to remove. 


Three Techniques to Remove Rust Stains from Clothes

Knowing what not to do is a great first step to removing rust stains from clothes. But now comes the hard work. Then, when you’re ready to get crackin’, you can try these three different techniques to remove rust stains from your workout gear.

1. Salt & Lemon Juice

You’ll only need three all-natural ingredients for this rust stain removal technique: lemon juice, salt, and a lil bit of sunshine. The lemon juice is the real star here. It helps lift the rust stain from the fabric.

Start by sprinkling some salt on the rust stain. Then squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the salt. Leave your garment in the sun for 5 – 10 minutes. You don’t want to let it sit out too long, or the acidity of the lemon juice can start to eat away at the fabric in your gear. 

Once the stain has lifted, wash as usual and check to ensure the stain is 100% removed before putting it in the dryer.

This technique is perfect for light-colored garments. But for darker colored fabrics, you should test it first on an inconspicuous spot to make sure that it’s colorfast and won’t fade or bleach as a result.

2. Homemade Stain Removing Paste

This all-natural rust removal remedy requires three ingredients you’ve probably got sitting around your home: cream of tartar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide.

Mix one teaspoon of cream of tartar, one teaspoon baking soda, and a few drops of hydrogen peroxide into a paste. Generously apply to the stained area. 

You can let the paste sit for up to 30 minutes before you rinse it out. Then, after the stain has been removed, wash and dry according to your garment’s care instructions.

3. Commercial Rust Remover

Still no luck? Sometimes those stubborn rust stains need a little bit more than homemade remedies. If that’s the case, there are several commercial-grade rust removers that you can use to help remove the stain.

Each rust remover is different, so you should always read the instructions before you get started. It’s not uncommon to only have to let it sit for a few seconds before you rinse it thoroughly. That’s how powerful they are. You might also need to wear safety gear (i.e., rubber gloves), so check the label for any safety precautions.

Keep in mind that these products are potent, and you should always check to make sure that they’re safe for the fabrics you’re treating. Typically, you can only use commercial-grade rust removers on colorfast fabrics. 


Invest in High-Quality Activewear with Fabric Technology That Resists Rust Stains

Next time you’re faced with a rust stain after a heavy lift session, don’t sweat it. Instead, examine it, make sure it’s actually rust, and stay away from chlorine bleach and heat until the stain has been completely removed. 

But here’s a little pro tip: the best way to prevent rust stains is to invest in high-quality pieces with fabric technology designed to resist stains

Click here to find out more about how we’re revolutionizing the activewear game with high-quality, long-lasting pieces that’ll stand up to whatever you throw at them – yes, even rusty gym equipment!

Ryan H


Ryan Hoang is a former fitness trainer, fashion entrepreneur, and creative force behind the modern activewear brand Centric. As a fitness enthusiast and apparel industry professional, he always strives to design and create high performance athletic apparel without compromising fashion for function. When he is not busy working on Centric, you will find him at the gym sweating it out or in the kitchen trying out new recipes.