What Causes Rust Stains in Your Bathtub? Eradicating Rust Stains

Bathtubs are frequently the focal point of any bathroom, and nothing can mar their pristine beauty quite like unsightly rust stains. Unfortunately, these stains can occur for a myriad of reasons which may be surprising to many homeowners.

Let’s take a dive into understanding what causes rust stains in your bathtub on bottom or anywhere else. Read this guide on removing Rust from Your Enamel Tub.

What Causes Rust Stains in Your Bathtub?

There are several factors responsible for the appearance of these uninvited rusty guests. They include:

Iron in Water:

High levels of iron in your water supply can lead to rust stains. When the iron in the water reacts with oxygen, it forms rust, which can adhere to the bathtub surface.

Old Iron Plumbing:

Rust can also originate from your home’s old iron plumbing pipes. As these pipes age, they can corrode and release rust into the water, which then stains your bathtub.

Metal Cans or Containers:

Leaving metal cans or containers in the bathtub for extended periods can result in rust spots.

Faulty Enamel:

Bathtubs with chipped or worn-out enamel are more susceptible to rust stains, as they expose the metal underneath to water and air.

Iron in WaterHigh iron content reacts with oxygen to form rust, staining the bathtub.
Old Iron PlumbingAging, corroded pipes release rust into the water, leading to rust stains.
Metal Cans or ContainersExtended exposure to water and air causes these items to rust in the bathtub.
Faulty EnamelChipped or worn-out enamel exposes the metal, leading to rust formation.

How to Fix Rust Stains in Your Bathtub?

Removing rust stains can be a challenge, but with the right knowledge, you can get your bathtub back to looking like new. Below are the detailed steps on how to deal with these stubborn stains.


1. Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

First, you need the below necessary cleaning supplies. Depending on the severity of the stains, you may need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • A spray bottle
  • A soft scrub brush or toothbrush
  • Rubber gloves

2. Choose Your Cleaning Solution

You can opt for a commercial rust remover if the stains are particularly stubborn, but natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice often work just as well and are less harmful to the environment. The table below provides a comparison:

Cleaning AgentProsCons
Baking soda and vinegarNon-toxic, effective on lighter stainsMay need repeated application for heavy stains
Lemon juice and saltNatural, effective on moderate stainsCan be messy
Commercial rust removerPowerful, quick resultsMay contain harsh chemicals, more expensive

3. Apply the Cleaning Solution

After deciding on a solution, apply it to the rust stains:

  • Baking Soda and Vinegar: Make a paste of equal parts baking soda and vinegar. Apply this to the rust stain and leave it for 15-20 minutes before scrubbing with a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly.
  • Lemon Juice and Salt: Mix equal parts lemon juice and salt to form a paste. Apply to the rust stains, let sit for a few hours, then scrub with a brush and rinse.
  • Commercial Rust Remover: Follow the instructions on the packaging.
Note: Always test your chosen cleaner on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t discolor your tub.

4. Rinse and Repeat

After applying the solution and scrubbing, rinse the tub thoroughly. If the stain remains, you may need to repeat the process.

How to Prevent Rust Stains in Your Bathtub?

Rust stains in the bathtub are an all-too-common issue, but, fortunately, with the right preventative measures, you can keep them at bay.

Regular Cleaning

One of the most efficient ways to prevent rust stains is by conducting regular cleaning. This means not just rinsing your bathtub, but also scrubbing it with appropriate cleaning agents. A combination of vinegar and baking soda is a natural and effective solution.

Use of Quality Plumbing Fixtures

Opting for high-quality plumbing fixtures is a long-term solution to preventing rust stains. Cheaper, low-quality fixtures are prone to corrosion, which can lead to rust.

Prevent Water Stagnation

Prevent water from standing for extended periods of time. Stagnant water can expedite the rusting process, especially when in contact with metallic objects.

Regular Plumbing Checks

Having a professional plumber check your pipes for corrosion can also help prevent rust stains. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Products to Keep Your Tub Rust-Free

Product NameUsePrice Range
Iron OUT Rust Stain RemoverSpray directly on rust$$
CLR PRO Calcium, Lime and Rust RemoverMix with water and scrub$$$
RUSTGuard Whink Time Released Bowl CleanerPrevents rust in the drain$$

Key Takeaways

Rust stains in your bathtub are typically caused by high iron content in your water, corroded iron plumbing, metal cans or objects left in the tub, or worn-out enamel. Prevention methods include water treatment, plumbing replacement, proper storage, and bathtub refinishing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes rust stains in my bathtub?

High iron content in water, old iron plumbing, metal objects in your tub, or faulty enamel may cause rust stains.

How can I prevent rust stains in my bathtub?

You can prevent rust stains by treating your water, replacing old iron plumbing, avoiding metal objects in the tub, and maintaining your tub’s enamel.

Can rusty water cause health issues?

While ingesting small amounts of rust isn’t typically harmful, it can cause issues like digestive discomfort. Plus, rusty water often indicates other plumbing problems that need addressing.

Is it necessary to replace old iron plumbing?

Replacing old iron plumbing with PVC or copper can prevent rust from entering your water supply, which will help to prevent bathtub rust stains.

Can metal cans or containers cause rust stains?

Yes, leaving metal cans or containers in your bathtub for long periods can result in rust stains.

Can rust stains damage my bathtub?

Rust stains themselves don’t damage the tub, but they indicate that there’s a metal object rusting, which can cause damage over time.

Can I use bleach to remove rust?

No, bleach can make the rust stains more set and harder to remove. It’s best to use a rust-removing product.

Can I prevent rust stains if my water is hard?

Yes, using a water softener can reduce mineral content and prevent rust stains.

Is rust in the bathtub harmful to health?

While unsightly, rust itself is not harmful. However, it indicates corrosion which could affect water quality.

What if rust stains keep coming back?

If rust stains persist, it’s likely a sign of a larger problem, such as corroded pipes, and you should consult a plumber.

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