Removing Rust Stains with Lime Juice


Lime or Lemon?


This lens will be about using citric acid from limes and UV rays from the sun to remove rust stains from clothing. Lemons will work just as well maybe better but I cook with key limes so that is what I use. Limes and lemons contain from 8% to 10% citric acid where as grapefruits, manderines, and oranges have less. This is the magic ingredient that bleaches the rust stain without effection fabric dyes.

Things you’ll need

  1. lemon, lime or citrus fruit high in citric acid
  2. salt, any table salt, rock salt, or sea salt
  3. old used tooth brush
  4. garment soiled with a rust stain

Mixing the cleaner

Cut the citrus fruit in half and use a lime squeezer. I use the lime juice straight but you can add a little water to make it a little easier to apply. Next add a quarter teaspoon of salt. Salt is a catalyst because it is an electrolyte that helps removing of the rust stain because it is a redox or oxidation/reduction reaction.


Apply the juice mix

Pour the lime juice concoction on the stain so it can wet the fabric and the stain. With an old toothbrush, rub the citrus juice into the fibres which the stain is in. Agitation is important to ensure all the rust stain is contacted with the juice so the citric acid may react.


Intermediate stage

Withing five minutes after applying the salt/juice mix, the citric acid wiill convert the ferric oxide in teh rust to a greenish complex called ferric citrate.

Final bleaching action

If exposed to UV or direct sunlight, the citrate ion reduces the ferric iron to ferrous iron. When the remaining citrate is bonded to the ferrous iron, the resulting ferrous citrate is white and appears invisible. If you smell the stain you will still smell a characteristic blood or iron smell. The garment still needs to be washed like normal to get the juice and salt from the fabric.

6 thoughts on “Removing Rust Stains with Lime Juice

  1. Thanks for the informative post! Will this work on any metal? My bicycle handles get rust spots, maybe from the salt air? Thanks! Rebecca

    • I am sure it would help. This formulation is more for getting rust stains out if clothing and fabrics. There are special products available at hardware and home improvement centers that not only remove rust but will form a protective coating that can be primed and painted over. These products are based on phosphoric acid.

  2. margaretsales says:

    Here are some other quality home cleaning tips for stain removal.Let the mud stains dry completely.Gently – and carefully – scrape away any excess dirt.Rub the stains with a little bit of washing up liquid with your fingers in order to loosen ground-in dirt.Add a few drops of water to the stain and detergent.If the items are REALLY muddy, follow steps one and two again. Then, place items in a bucket of cold water, add detergent – and pre-soak the items. Use a cloth to loosen mud from the fabric.Wash the item according to the washing guidelines.When the wash is completed, check to see if any stains remain. If there are, repeat the previous steps.

  3. […] acid as a mill scale remover.  Although skeptical, I realized that citric acid was allowing me to remove rust stains from my blue jeans.  Citric acid is a weak organic acid but it has a strong affinity for iron.  Citric acid is a […]

  4. kristeena says:

    what is the equation for ferric iron changing to ferrous iron

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