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My washer inside drum apparently had rust and I left underwear in washer and now the stains won’t come out. Can you help?

By Dr. Laundry January 5, 2016

Q: My washer inside drum apparently had rust and I left underwear in washer and now the stains won’t come out. Can you help?   A: I’m not surprised you haven’t been able to wash away the rust stains in a regular wash cycle.  Rust stains are particularly limited in what will effectively take them out.  Most importantly, it’s critical to note that rust stains can NOT be removed with Clorox® Regular-Bleach (or any chlorine bleach for that matter).  You need to use a rust remover product instead, which can be found at hardware stores.  These products are very strong acids—that’s why they are effective—just be sure to read and follow the package directions, including wearing gloves.  The biggest issue with treating machine washable fabrics with a rust remover is whether or not they are colorfast.  You can always test a spot on a hidden part of the stained items if you want to be sure the rust remover is safe to use—again, follow the instructions on the package.  After you have treated the items, be sure to rinse them thoroughly and let them air dry.  I hope this is helpful—please let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks for writing.   –Dr. Laundry