How To Remove Rust Stains From Carpets

Your soft, beautiful carpet has a rust stain, and you can’t stop looking at it. It doesn’t matter if it’s your own home or you’re worried about your security deposit in a rental. That rust stain has to go.

You can’t just spray any old cleaner and hope to get it out. The composition of rust requires a specific set of steps to remove the entire stain. If you don’t address the stain in the right way, you could end up making it worse.

We’ve got the best way to remove that stubborn rust stain from your carpet. Let’s restore the look of your carpet.
rust stains on carpets

Why Is Rust So Difficult?

The coloring of rust is a difficult stain to remove. The reddish hue can spread around and sets in deeply to the fibers fundamentally changing their coloring. If you try any old stain remover, you risk wetting the stain and spreading that reddish hue around.

Getting the stain out depends a lot on containing the stain in the first place. You have to lift the stain without the coloring touching the unstained fibers around it. It’s a balancing act.

Cleaning Rust From Carpet

Before you attack that stain, there’s some prep work you should follow.

Remove The Source

Metal furniture is a common culprit for rust stains. If you clean the stain and put the furniture right back into place, you’re dooming yourself to a lifetime of removing rust. Bummer.

Consider how you’re going to remove the source of the stain. You may need to move the furniture to a different spot, such as hardwood or another impermeable surface. You could also add wide furniture protectors under the feet of the furniture.

Other sources of staining may need protective coverings, or it could just be a matter of sealing the material off, so it doesn’t allow the rust to form.

Do your best to remove the rust from the source as well, so you protect your carpet even further.
rust stains on carpet

Basic Cleaning – Dry

Before you start with stain removal, it’s important to try to remove as much of the stain while it’s dry. This is accomplished by allowing the rust to dry entirely and merely scraping off the excess.

You’ll need:

  • a knife or other abrasive tool.
  1. Make sure the rust stain is completely dry.
  2. Scrape your knife from side to side to loosen the rust particles.
  3. Vacuum the area to remove the rust particles.
  4. Repeat the steps until you’ve removed the rust completely or you can’t scrape the rust anymore.

Basic Cleaning – Wet

You may not be able to completely remove set in rust stains with the dry method above. Once you’ve exhausted that choice, move on to wet removal.

You’ll need:

  • vinegar
  • dry cloth or rag
  1. Soak the stain with the vinegar and leave it alone for at least an hour or so.
  2. Come back to the stain and blot, don’t rub, the vinegar.
  3. Repeat the steps until the stain is completely lifted.
  4. Allow the vinegar to dry overnight once you’ve removed as much of the stain as you can (or all of it) and come back in with a plain wet cloth to blot the area and remove any remaining stain or vinegar.

Note: If your carpet fiber is really dense, you may need to use a spoon or form to poke the fibers and allow the vinegar to penetrate down to the middle and bottom of the fibers.

Basic Cleaning – Lemon Juice

If you hate the smell of vinegar, you can accomplish the same effect with lemon juice.

Important! – Test a small area of your carpet that’s out of eyesight to make sure that the coloring of your carpet doesn’t change with the introduction of the lemon juice.

You’ll need:

  • lemon juice
  • dry rag or cloth
  1. Once you’ve tested your carpet for colorfastness, soak the stain with the lemon juice and leave it for about an hour.
  2. Come back and begin to blot the lemon juice with the rag. Don’t rub because you could move the stain around.
  3. Repeat the steps until the stain is lifted or removed to your satisfaction.
  4. Allow the lemon juice to dry overnight and blot the spot with a wet rag the next day to remove any remaining stain or lemon juice.

stains on carpets

Maintaining Your Carpet

Once your stain is removed, be sure that you handle the source of the stain so that you aren’t having to remove the stain again in a few months. It may be helpful to keep the area clear for a while to help remove any lingering moisture that could cause mold staining.

Final Thoughts

Removing a rust stain isn’t a hopeless cause if you’re careful not to spread the stain around. Going slow and being methodical can bring the stain out of the fibers. Even if you can’t remove the entire stain, with the above methods, you can almost always get enough of the stain that’s it’s barely noticeable.

Probably the biggest thing you can do to keep your carpet rust free is to use an ounce of prevention. Putting wide feet of plastic underneath any furniture with metal parts keeps the carpet from rusting. Even if you don’t think there’s a moisture source around the furniture, it’s still possible for the metal pieces to rust over time, so make sure to protect your furniture’s feet.

The good news is that you’re going to get your security deposit back, or at least, you won’t lose it due to rust stains. And if you’re kicking yourself for ruining your carpet in your own home, you’ve got a second chance to do better next time.

Be honest. How did your carpet get its rust stain? Did you think it was a lost cause to try to remove it yourself? Tell us all about it in the comments below and be sure to share it with anyone who may need a carpet refresher of their own.

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