Top-Rated Cleaning Products To Use To Banish Rust (And Where They Work Best)

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When naming the most stubborn and difficult to remove types of stains, rust tops nearly everyone's list. Rust — or iron oxide — is a substance that forms only on metals via the process of corrosion. Basically, when iron, oxygen, and moisture combine for prolonged periods, rust is the result. However, once rust has appeared on a metal object, some of it can easily transfer onto other materials like fabric, cement, brick, or carpet in the form of a red, orange, or yellow stain.

While there are many common household essentials you can use to banish rust around your home, sometimes they just aren't powerful enough to get the job done. Whether your goal is to dissolve rust from metal items like tools and cookware or to remove rust stains from your flooring, clothes, or patio (or all of the above), there are highly-rated products on the market for each purpose. If you've been fighting a losing battle against rust and rust stains, consider this your guide to products that really work and have the ratings and recommendations to prove it. 

Whink Rust Stain Remover

Traditional rust removers use powerful — and extremely corrosive and irritating —acids to dissolve away rust. Whink Rust Stain Remover does utilize hydrofluoric acid in its formula. However, the solution is still low-odor, reducing your chances of experiencing lung, nose, eye, or throat irritation during use. You can use this product to effectively remove rust from materials including carpet and other fabrics that have been proven colorfast, bathtubs and showers, sinks, toilets, cement and brick patios, and can even make your vinyl siding look new again. Due to its corrosive nature, it should not be used on metal or wood.

Whink Rust Stain Remover's foaming quality allows the cleaner to cling to any surface you spray it on until wiped away. This means you can simply spray it and let it work its magic until the rust stain disappears, Then, simply rinse it away. It boasts a 4.2-star rating on Amazon, where it can currently be purchased for $15.20. Just beware of the possibility of a receiving a bottle with a faulty sprayer, according to multiple reviewers.

Rust 911 Ultra-Concentrate

If the thought of using a harsh acid-based cleaner to tackle the rust in and around your home makes you a little nervous, you're in luck. Some rust removal products now use chelation technology — also known as reversible binding or complexation — instead of acids. These products use one of several available chelating active ingredients that bind to metal ions in order to remove oxide molecules. The result is a rust-removing solution that is completely non-toxic, non-hazardous, biodegradable, and non-corrosive. One highly-rated product that uses this technology is Rust 911 Ultra-Concentrate.

Rust 911 Ultra-Concentrate can be used to remove rust from basically any non-fabric surface, including metal, rubber, plastic, glass, and even painted surfaces. It will not corrode metals or remove paint. Since the product is concentrated, it must be diluted with water before use. For best results, pre-wash the item with hot water and soap. Then, soak the item in the diluted solution until the rust is gone. The solution can then be reused on other items. When the liquid becomes black, it's time to dispose of it and dilute another batch. Rust 911 Ultra-Concentrate is rated 4.4 stars on Amazon, where it can currently be purchased for $34.95. 

CLR Calcium, Lime, and Rust Remover

If you've done any research into popular rust removal products, you've most likely come across mentions of CLR Calcium, Lime, and Rust Remover. As a mainstream cleaning product, CLR is sold in most major supermarkets and department stores and is considered a household staple in areas where hard water is prominent. The reason for all this hype? To put it very simply, the product works. It does so by utilizing lactic acid to strip away rust from porcelain, brick, cement, glass, metal including copper, PVC, and other plastics.

While CLR is concentrated, it can be applied full-strength to stubborn rust on your cookware, bathtub, toilet, patio, and other vulnerable surfaces. Simply apply the liquid concentrate to the problem area, allow it to soak until the stain lifts, and rinse it away. As a bonus, CLR will also remove hard water stains caused by lime and calcium deposits. As one reviewer put it, this is a product that is "recommended in every home." Its 4.5-star rating agrees. You can currently snag a bottle on Amazon for $14.86.

Iron Out Rust Stain Remover Spray

Another iconic mainstream rust-removing cleaner you may have heard of is Iron Out Rust Stain Remover Spray. This popular solution uses oxalic acid to lift away rust stains from showers, bathtubs, sinks, tile, colorfast or white fabric or carpet, and glass. It should not be used on metals, as its powerfully acidic active ingredients can corrode their finishes. Since the "liquid" formula is actually a gel, it clings to the surface being cleaned, allowing it to penetrate deep into rust stains for as long as necessary to easily remove them.

Simply spray, wait for the stain to fade away, and rinse off the gel. If the item is a fabric garment, wash it as usual after all the solution has been rinsed away. "This product was incredible," one reviewer raves about the 4.4-star rated cleaner. "I sprayed it on, and it immediately began to work. On the toughest stains, I let it sit less than a minute, and they were gone!" You can currently grab a bottle on Amazon for just $6.98. 

Evapo-Rust Heavy-Duty Rust Remover

Evapo-Rust Heavy-Duty Rust Remover is a popular chelation technology-based reusable rust remover that is similar to Rust 911 Ultra-Concentrate. Unlike Rust 911 Ultra-Concentrate, however, Evapo-Rust is not a concentrated formula. This means that the product does not need to be diluted with water before it can be used and it can instead be conveniently applied directly to the surface being cleaned. Evapo-Rust can be used on all the same materials as Rust 911 Ultra-Concentrate and other chelating cleaners — including metal, rubber, plastic, PVC, glass, and painted hard surfaces.

To maximize Evapo-Rust's rust removal ability, first wash the rust-stained item with hot water and a mild soap. Then, soak the item in Evapo-Rust Heavy-Duty Rust Remover until the staining has disappeared. The used portion of undiluted cleaning solution can then be re-used on another rusted item, until the liquid turns black and needs to be discarded. "Follow the easy instructions and you will be completely amazed," one reviewer advises. You can currently purchase a jug to try on Amazon for $14.90. 

Zep Calcium, Lime & Rust Stain Remover

If you're a fan of CLR Calcium, Lime, and Rust Remover and wish you could find a supercharged version of the beloved cleaner, we've got news for you. Zep Calcium, Lime & Rust Stain Remover is basically a professional-grade version of CLR. Instead of gentler lactic acid, Zep uses a combination of high-powered urea hydrochloride & hydroxyethanoic acids to completely obliterate rust, plus lime and calcium deposits. It quickly and efficiently removes all three from porcelain, brick, cement, stucco, glass, and fiberglass.

Zep Calcium, Lime & Rust Stain Remover should not be used on wood, fabric, natural stone, aluminum, brass, chrome, or painted surfaces due to its high level of corrosiveness. Simply let the item or surface soak after applying the product. When the stain appears to have lifted, rinse the solution away. For mild staining, Zep can be diluted before application. Keep in mind that gloves and proper ventilation are always recommended when using professional-grade cleaning solvents. You can currently purchase a four-pack of one-gallon jugs on Amazon for 49.99. 

Star Brite Rust Stain Remover

For those who still feel a bit uncomfortable with handing corrosive chemicals, Star Brite Rust Stain Remover is another highly-rated cleaning product that utilizes chelation technology instead of acids to remove rust and rust stains. This, of course, means that the formula is fully non-toxic, non-hazardous, and biodegradable. The product's 4.3-star rating and enthusiastic reviews recommend using it to easily remove rust from vinyl siding, boats, pool liners, fabric, metal, fiberglass, and glass. It should not be used on fabrics.

Just spray Star Brite Rust Stain Remover directly onto the surface or item in question, let it sit until the stain visibly lifts, and then rinse with water. If faint staining remains, repeat the process. Star Brite can also be used to prevent new rust stains from forming. Simply spray the surface with Star Brite again after removing the stain and then wipe it off — without rinsing — to create a protective coating. One reviewer called Star Brite Rust Stain Remover the "best product around and a must-have for boaters." You can currently acquire a bottle of your own on Amazon for $15.74.