How To Remove Rust Stains From Sinks, Tubs, And Toilets

How To Remove Rust Stains From Sinks, Tubs, And Toilets

Rust stains aren’t necessarily due to problems in your plumbing system or in the water pipelines. Even if your water tastes and appears normal, water with a high enough iron content can leave rust stains behind.

Rusty water needs to remain in near-constant contact with porcelain for rust stains to appear. Often you’ll notice these stains in areas where there’s standing water, like a toilet bowl. These rust stains appear as a brownish ring around the water line or brown streaks running down from where water flows into the bowl. Typically these rust stains don’t just fade away with your usual toilet cleaner and scrub brush.

In sinks and bathtubs, rust stains appear oftentimes in the little ridge around the drain. If your faucet is leaky, there may also be brown stains from where the water drips down.

While you may need a plumbers help in identifying and correcting the source of the underlying issue of rust stains, you should be able to clean them up on your own. It’s best to address stains immediately. If left alone, they can permanently etch themselves into the porcelain of your toilet, sink, or tub.

Here are a few effective ways to get rid of rust stains:

Scouring pads

The rough side of the standard 2-sided kitchen sponge may be all that’s needed to remove rust stains. There are versions of scouring pads that are specifically meant for tough stains on toilets, sinks, and tubs that won’t scratch up your porcelain. This is a great starting choice for dealing with stains since it’s eco-friendly and there are no chemicals needed.


Similar to a scouring pad, a pumice stick or scrubber (designed for porcelain and tile) is ideal for removing rust stains. You just might have to use a bit of elbow grease to lift the stains.

Lemon juice and salt

A paste of lemon juice and salt is a safe and potent solution to help penetrate tough stains. Since the paste isn’t very sticky, it may be difficult to use on toilets. Apply to sink and tub drains, let the mixture soak for at least 15 minutes, then scrub away with a toothbrush.

Chemical cleaners

As a last resort, you can always turn to chemical cleaners for rust stains that just won’t lift. A cleaner that contains hydrochloric acid and is safe for tub and tile is your best best bet. Follow safety instructions on the bottle of cleaner carefully, though. Many chemical cleaners are hazardous if mishandled!