If you’ve ever encountered a rust stain anywhere in your home, you know how unsightly they can be. Their unpleasant appearance is rivaled only by their difficulty to remove.
If you find a rust stain in your carpet, the challenge can be all the more difficult, as you will want to avoid the use of certain products that, while useful in dissolving rust, can cause damage to your carpet.
What causes rust stains in carpet?
While rust stains may not be overly common in carpet, they certainly can occur and they can be troublesome when they do.
Rust stains can be caused by bottoms of metal furniture sitting on your carpet, particularly for long periods of time. As a result, a rust stain on your carpet may have been there for quite awhile, and as a result, may be set in and difficult to remove.
Other causes of rust stains can include placement of rusty parts or items onto your carpet, as well as the dragging of rusty items across your carpet.
It can also drip down from a rusty wall or appliance onto the carpet below.
If you’re looking for how to clean rust spots out of carpet, there are a number of DIY and commercial options that may work well to tackle your unfortunate stain.
Table of Contents
Related: How to get more stains out of carpet
Scrape it Away
If you’re looking to remove a rust stain from your carpet, the first step before applying treatment to the spot is to remove any remaining rust particles that may remain. If you find any rust flakes on top of the stain, or in the area surrounding it, you will want to work to remove them.
Take a spoon, a butter knife, or another blunt object and gently scrape or scoop away the flakes, placing them on a paper towel for proper removal. If you fail to remove these flakes before treating the stain, it can cause the flakes to be pressed down into your carpet, causing additional staining and embedding them deeper into your carpet.
Sometimes, as you scrape, you may actually loosen some of the rust embedded into the carpet, which will help to reduce the amount of stain that requires treatment.
Removing loose rust before treating a stain will help to protect against worsening or further spreading the stain.
After the remaining loose rust is removed, it’s time to apply a treatment to the stain. Whether you’re looking for a chemical or non-chemical solution, there are a number of options that could work well for you.
You can use any one or a combination of these solutions to tackle rust stains in carpet. For set-in stains that have been there longer, you may find you need to attempt a number of options, or even repeat one or more option, before the stain is fully lifted.
A great first step for tackling a rust stain in your carpet is to apply lemon juice to the affected area. The citric acid in lemon juice can serve as a great, natural way to break up tough stains and may prove a good start against rust.
Simply drizzle lemon juice – either fresh or bottled, either will work – onto the area of your rust stain. Allow to sit for ten minutes.
Lemon juice can not only help to break up tough stains, but it also helps to lighten them, too. Take care if you are using lemon juice on a darker carpet, or if the stain-affected area is exposed to the light, as prolonged exposure to light with lemon juice can have a bleaching effect.
After the lemon juice has had a chance to set into your carpet, you can then take a soft cloth or paper towel, wet it with cold water, and gently blot the stain. You may also find it useful when working with a rust stain to use a hand-bristled brush, like an old toothbrush, to work the product more deeply into the carpet and to break up the stain.
Take care, however, not rub or scrub vigorously, as this may push the stain deeper into your carpet. If you do use a brush, be sure to keep your motion slow and gently, almost like you are massaging it into the carpet.
Once you have completed treatment of the stain affected area, use a damp cloth with cold water to thoroughly rinse the lemon juice from your carpet. Leaving it in could damage your carpet, as well as cause additional stains to form as dirt collects in the stickiness of the lemon juice.
Salt and White Vinegar
You may find lemon juice alone insufficient for removing the rust stain entirely. A good next step is to try a combination of salt and white vinegar.
Salt works well to absorb stains, particularly moisture within the carpet’s fibers, while white vinegar is great at breaking up stains, lightening them, and, when needed, neutralizing odors.
Pour table salt over the rust stain and allow it to sit. Then, take a soft, white cloth or towel and soak it in white vinegar, placing it over the salt on the stain.
Allow to sit for ten minutes.
Then, remove the cloth and, using a damp cloth with cold water attempt to scoop away as much of the salt as possible before continuing to rinse the solution away.
Another method of using white vinegar to remove a rust stain is to combine one part vinegar with two parts water and spray the solution on your rust stain. Then, using a dry towel or cloth, blot at the stain, reapplying solution as necessary.
Repeat the process and application of the solution as necessary until the stain is removed, or no more rust appears on your cloth. This may indicate you have achieved as much success as possible with this approach.
Once finished, make sure to rinse the remaining vinegar from your carpet so as to avoid any damage to your carpet and to avoid the bitter vinegar stain from remaining in your carpet.
Another DIY option for tackling a rust stain is the use of a non-bleach dish detergent. These products are developed specifically to tackle tough stains caused by grease, and so it only makes sense that they could prove helpful in dissolving a rust stain, too.
Combine one tablespoon of dish detergent with two cups of warm water in a spray bottle and apply to the area of the rust stain.
Allow it to sit for several minutes, as the product goes to work dissolving and lifting the stain.
Then, take a soft cloth and blot at the area of the stain, working to lift the stain.
When complete, rinse thoroughly, as dish detergent left in your carpet could cause dirt to collect and lead to additional staining.
Another potential option that can work well to lighten tough, dark stains is hydrogen peroxide. This product has a natural bleaching effect, and while this can work well for removing dark stains on light carpets, it should be avoided on darker carpets or even certain carpet materials, like wool, as permanent damage can occur.
Before attempting to remove your rust stain with this solution, test a small amount of the solution on a non-visible area of your carpet to ensure no bleaching or additional damage will occur.
Once you have determined the product safe to use on your carpet, combine one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide with three tablespoons of warm water in a squirt bottle and apply to the area affected by the rust stain.
Allow to sit for 15-30 minutes as the solution soaks into the carpet and goes to work treating your stain. This can help to break up the stain, lifting it from your carpet, and lightening the dark stain.
Take a dry cloth and blot the area until the stain has lifted, reapplying the solution as necessary. Once the stain is removed or treatment completed, rinse thoroughly using a damp rag and cold water.
Commercial Carpet Cleaner
Because rust stains can be difficult to remove using only one stain removal approach, you may find yourself opting for use of a commercial carpet cleaner. These can work quite well for removing rust, and some are actually specially formulated to tackle rust.
If you find yourself facing a tough rust stain, or if rust stains in your carpet are a common enough occurrence, then you may want to purchase a commercial rust stain remover for carpets to keep on hand for the next time you encounter one of those dreaded brown rings in your carpet.
One option that may work well for you is Iron OUT Rust Stain Remover Spray Gel. This solution is designed for use on rust stains affecting a range of surfaces, including carpet, and goes to work to dissolve rust immediately on contact.
Follow instructions on the product to ensure proper use and removal.
Once you have completed treatment of the stain, it’s important to rinse the treatment solution from your carpet thoroughly to avoid any damage, as well as to avoid additional staining, as these products can collect dirt if left in your carpet.
Use a damp cloth soaked in cold water and gently blot at the treated area until all of the product has been removed.
After the solution is removed, use a dry cloth to remove any remaining moisture from the treated area of carpet.
It is important to ensure the area has been sufficiently dried, as mold and mildew may grow.
Once the carpet is dry, you can run a vacuum cleaner over the area to restore your carpet’s natural fluff and smoothness to leave your carpet looking good as new.