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Spot Solution: Remove Rust Stains From Carpet

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Carpet stains just happen. But when the stain involves rust, it can create an added challenge. If someone carelessly leaves an old metal hand tool on the carpet instead of putting it back in the toolbox, or perhaps the legs of a well-worn metal table have begun to leave orange-red circular marks, fast-action is needed.

Getting rust out of carpet fibers can be as big of a pain as removing your child's spilled grape juice or last night's Merlot, particularly if you have white, off-white or beige carpeting. Unless the rust stain is quite large, or has been present long enough to be ground in by foot traffic, smaller and more recent rust stains can easily be removed with items found around the house. The key ingredient? Lemon juice! The acid found in this citrus fruit is a powerful cleaning agent and will eat away that rust.

As with any other stain, acting sooner rather than later is key to removing all traces. You can do this!

How to Remove Rust from Carpeting in Three Cheap and Easy Steps

Conveniently, the cleaning agents you'll use are nothing more than lemon juice, dish detergent and hot water. Since a large amount of lemon juice is needed, you may opt to use a bottle of lemon juice concentrate rather than fresh squeezed lemons for cost efficiency, though the acid in fresh squeezed juice will pack more of a stain-fighting punch. For tools, you’ll only need an old or cheap toothbrush, paper towels or a clean sponge and a small bucket for holding hot water.

Hydrogen peroxide can also be used as a medium for removing rust stains, though it's not recommended for carpeting that's anything but white or off-white, since hydrogen peroxide has a pronounced bleaching effect.

  1. Saturate the Stain: Before tackling the stain itself, remove any rust flakes and chips that may still be in and on the carpet fibers. Soaking solid pieces of rust with lemon juice and hot water will only worsen and reinforce the stain. After removing all loose debris, thoroughly soak the area with lemon juice. The citric acid will work wonders in penetrating the fibers to lift the stain, so being frugal is not advised here. After saturating the area, let it soak for at least 10 minutes. Once the juice has set long enough to start eating away at the stain, blot with a paper towel or sponge (dunk the sponge in hot water and wring it out between each blotting). Don't scrub the area in a back-and-forth or circular motion! This will only rub the rust stain into the carpet fibers even further. Simply continue to blot the area until there is no longer any liquid that can be pulled from the carpet.
  2. Gentle Scrub with Dish Detergent: Create a 50/50 mixture of warm water and dish detergent. Soak the rust stain with this combination, using the same process for the lemon juice in Step One, letting it sit for a minimum of 10 minutes. Gently and slowly scrub this mixture into the stain in a circular motion, being very careful not to press too firmly into the carpet fibers. Important tip: Work from the outside of the stain inward, since scrubbing from the inside of the stain towards its edges will make the stain even larger.
  3. Hot Water Wash: Finish off the stain removal by wetting the treated area thoroughly with very hot water, and blot the area with dry paper towels or a sponge. Try to remove most of the dish detergent, but don't worry if a little remains behind in the carpet fibers. If using a sponge, make sure to wring it out in a bucket of clean hot water in between each blotting. Make sure the area remains temporarily off limits to foot traffic or curious house pets, and allow the carpet to air dry to its former pristine glory.

This is a guest post by L.K. from Albany, NY
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