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Tips For Rust Stain Treatments For Carpeting?

By Dr. Laundry June 28, 2016

Q: Rust stain treatments for carpeting? A: I’m so sorry to hear about your carpet.  Rust stains are particularly limited in what will effectively take them out when you just have to deal with them on fabric!  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).  Instead, a rust remover product is necessary; these can be found at hardware stores.  These products are very strong acids—that’s why they are effective—you need to be sure to read and follow the package directions, including wearing gloves.  A big issue with treating machine washable fabrics with a rust remover is whether or not they are colorfast, and this applies to carpeting as well.  You should definitely test a hidden part of the carpet (if you have a remnant you can work on that would be ideal) to be sure the rust remover is safe to use—again, follow the instructions on the package.  You want to do this not just to confirm that the rust remover won’t alter the color of the carpet, but also to make sure it is safe for the carpet fibers, especially if you don’t know what the fiber content is of the carpet.  Some synthetics can be safely treated with a strong acid while others can only handle a weak, diluted acid.  Wool also definitely can’t be treated with a strong acid but may be able to handle a dilute, weak acid.  It’s a balancing act:  you need an acid solution strong enough to take out the rust but not so strong it damages the carpet.  If you decide to treat the carpet with a rust remover product, you will need to thoroughly rinse the treated area which will likely involve renting a steam carpet cleaner.  I would definitely check out the pretreater products available where you rent the equipment; they will likely have a recommended product for rust specific for carpets.  You may also want to work with a professional given the huge financial investment carpet represents.  Good luck, and let me know how it goes!