What causes rust stains on laundry?

If you find a rust stain on your clothing when taking it out of the washing machine, rewash it before drying to prevent setting the stain.

If you find a rust stain on your clothing when taking it out of the washing machine, rewash it before drying to prevent setting the stain.

There’s nothing better than clean laundry. But when you pull a garment out of the washing machine and come to find a rust stain, that feeling can quickly change.

Rust spots on clothing can occur for several reasons, including:

  • Bacteria that chemically reacts with older iron pipes. While many newer homes contain PVC piping, city water is often supplied using iron pipes.
  • Rust and iron deposits breaking loose within water pipes or water heaters.
  • When house or city water lines have been disturbed by maintenance work, back flushing or vigorous movement, such as what occurs in an earthquake.
  • An area suffering from drought and low water reserves can cause sediment to accumulate within pipes. Rust spot coloring on clothes can range from brown or yellow to bright orange due to sediment diversity.
  • Old washers that contain rusty tubs.

You can expedite the rust removal process by hiring a Tampa house cleaner who can come to your home and effectively rid the inside of your washer with special rust removal liquids. In addition, plumbers may be able to rid your pipes of rust or replace old iron pipes with plastic PVC piping.

Homeowners may also treat moderate levels of rust by integrating an oxidizing or green sand filter large enough to adequately supply water needs. For higher amounts of rust, installing a filtration/chlorination system will treat incoming water and prevent laundry from developing rust spots. A chlorinator automatically releases safe amounts of chlorine bleach into a home's water system which eliminates bacteria and iron. In order to be effective, this chlorinator needs to be placed in an area of the water system prior to water passing through water heaters or water softeners.

If you need to remove rust stains from clothes, do not dry them first. Heat stabilizes the rust stains and makes them nearly impossible to eliminate from any type of clothing. Instead, try performing these steps to remove rust stains:

  • Immediately rewash clothes using a heavy duty detergent in clear water. Run a full washer to see if water is still discolored. If it is, wash clothes at a laundromat.
  • Use a commercial rust eliminator such as Iron-Out or Rit rust remover. These items contain hydrofluoric or oxalic acid compound that loosens rust from most fabrics. Make sure these clothes are thoroughly rinsed because any acid remaining will deteriorate clothes. In addition, these rust removers are only intended for colorfast material or white clothing.

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