How to Remove Rust Stains From Bathtubs and Sinks

When iron, oxygen, and water combine, the potential for rust goes up. As water hits iron, it will react with the air, and it will start to dissolve the iron. Because of the amount of water you use in the bathroom, your bathtub and sink could easily develop rust stains that you can remove.

To remove rust stains from bathtubs, household products aren’t usually strong enough. Consider the tub or sink’s material to select the right method. Options for removing stains include special chemicals, but it’s also possible to combine ingredients like hydrogen peroxide and cream of tartar.

Rust stains can look and feel bad, and they can make it hard to use your sink or tub appropriately. But you want to make sure you remove the rust safely. Keep reading to learn how to remove rust and what tools to use.

Cleaning a rusty bathtub. Rust stains in a bathtub or sink.

How to Remove Rust From Tubs and Sinks: Step-By-Step

You can follow a few steps when removing rust stains, and the basic process can apply to any cleanser. It doesn’t matter if you need to clean your bathtub or sink, and you can use this method for homemade or store-bought cleaners.

The first step to removing rust stains is to choose which cleanser to use. You should consider things such as the material of your tub or sink. Harsher products can scratch more delicate tubs, but gentler solutions may require more time or energy to work.

1. Put on Your Gloves

If you are using a harsher solution or product, you should wear gloves. Some chemicals can cause adverse reactions if you aren’t careful, so you may also want to wear long sleeves.

You should also keep kids and pets away from the bathroom if you decide to use something strong. But don’t let the strength keep you from using it. You may need to take extra precautions, but some store-bought products can give you fantastic results without much effort.

Similarly, you may want to use the bathroom fan when working with some cleaners. Depending on the solution, it may be hard to breathe as you clean. So make sure you have enough airflow so that you won’t feel like you’re suffocating.

2. Mix the Ingredients if Making Homemade Solution

If you decide to make your own cleanser at home, you will need to mix the ingredients. Most homemade options involve at least two household items, so you should get the right ratio.

You can mix the ingredients outside of your bathroom, which can be useful if you have a small space. Either way, be careful when mixing so that you get enough solution for the stain. You may not always be able to save the mix for future rust stains.

3. Apply the Cleanser

Next, it’s time to put the cleanser of your choice on your rust stain. Some cleansers require a layer of water before or after the product. If you buy the solution, read the directions for how to apply it safely.

You may also need to use a brush or sponge to help apply the cleanser to the stain. If this is the case, use a clean brush or sponge. Take it slow when applying the solution, especially for larger stains, so that you can apply it evenly.

4. Let It Sit for 10 Minutes to an Hour

Many rust removal options have you wait for some amount of time after the application. You may need to wait as little as 10 minutes or as long as more than an hour. However, be sure you do wait so that the solution can soak up the rust.

If you try to scrub the solution off immediately, it will be much more difficult. During the wait time, find something else to do outside of the bathroom. Then, you can come back for the final step.

5. Rinse Off

Finally, it’s time to rinse the cleaner off from the rust stain. After you wait long enough, you can use a brush or cloth to wipe off the solution. Hopefully, you will have a clean sink or bathtub.

If you still have remnants of the stain, you can repeat the process with the same or a different method. After a few tries, you may need to move to a stronger solution to get rid of what’s left.

Pre-Made Solutions for Getting Rid of Rust Stains on Bathtubs and Sinks

You can find many products on the market that can help you remove rust stains. If you use these, you don’t have to worry about mixing the right ingredients together. All you have to do is apply the product to the rust stain.

Because of the variety, you can find the right rust remover for you. Consider a few pre-made rust removal options.

Zud Heavy Duty Cleanser

Zud Heavy Duty Cleanser comes as a powder, and you can use it to dissolve rust stains. The cleanser works on surfaces such as stainless steel, bronze, and copper. It contains oxalic acid as well as abrasives to get rid of stains.

You can apply the cleanser after adding water to the rust stain. After you let the solution sit for a little over an hour, you can wipe it away. It’s not the most abrasive cleanser on the market, but it’s not as gentle as some options.

If you have a tough rust stain, consider the Zud cleanser. You don’t have to worry about scrubbing at the stain for hours for it to work.

Bar Keepers Friend Powdered Cleanser

Another great option that you can find in stores is Bar Keepers Friend Powdered Cleanser. It cleans and polishes surfaces such as stainless steel, fiberglass, and porcelain. You can use it to clean your sink, bathtub, faucets, and tile.

The powder is great for cleaning stains off of non-porous surfaces, and it’s relatively gentle. However, you may want to do a small test in the corner to make sure it won’t dull or scratch your tub or sink.

If you get this product, you can use it on any rust stains that you get, and you can use it as a general bathroom cleanser. Just make sure you keep it out of reach of children and pets so that you can stay safe.

The Works Tub & Shower Cleaner

The Works Tub & Shower Cleaner is an excellent choice for cleaning your tub and shower. You can apply the solution to the rust stain, and after a while, you can rinse it off for a clean look. If you have a tougher rust stain, you may want to use a brush to scrub some of the rust, but it’s not always necessary.

However, it doesn’t remove rust stains as well if you use well water. Also, the smell isn’t that great, so you may want to use room spray after cleaning.

The cleaner comes in a bottle so that you can pour just what you need of the liquid. That way, you can clean any rust stains without wasting the product.

DIY Options: Making Your Own Rust Stain Remover

If you find that none of the store-bought options has what you need, you can make your own cleanser to remove rust stains. The specific formula you should use depends on the material that your tub or sink contains.

It can also depend on how tough the stain is, but you can use the right bathroom solution. No matter what solution you choose to make, be safe and use gloves and keep the area ventilated so that you can breathe easily.

For Porcelain Tubs

If you have a porcelain tub, you can use standard cleaning products to maintain it. But if a tough rust stain develops, you will need something stronger to remove it.

  1. Mix three tablespoons of cream of tartar with three tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide.
  2. Mix them until they form a paste that feels like frosting.
  3. Put the solution over the rust stain and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  4. After that, use a pumice stone or a nylon brush to clean the stain until you get rid of the rust.

For Fiberglass Tubs

Fiberglass tubs require a different solution than porcelain thanks to the different composition of the tubs.

  1. To remove rust from a fiberglass tub, wet the rust, then add baking soda and scrub it into the stain.
  2. After an hour of letting the baking soda sit, wipe it off with a damp sponge so that you remove the baking soda.
  3. Continue rubbing the stain to get rid of small amounts of rust that may still be there.
  4. When you get all of the rust off, use a wet sponge to clean the area around the stain.
  5. Then dry it off with a soft cloth.

For Sinks

You can use yet another DIY solution to remove rust stains from your sink. If rust develops around the drain or elsewhere in your sink, you can combine lemon (or white vinegar) with table salt.

  1. Take the lemon and squeeze the juice out of it, then pour the juice over the stain.
  2. Wait for 10 minutes so that it can react with the rust.
  3. Then, use a washcloth to scrub the stain and clean it off. If it’s still there after you scrub for a while, you can use more lemon juice and some salt.
  4. After about 15 minutes, use an old toothbrush to help scrub off the stain. It should come off with this work, but if not, you can move to a store-bought option.


Removing rust stains from your bathtub or sink can sound like a lot of work. But if you know what chemicals or ingredients to use, you can make it easier on yourself. Just remember to stay safe and be patient, especially with tougher stains.

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