Mailbox Mondays Washing

Cloth Diaper Advice – Mailbox Monday 11/18/13 – Rust Stains

Rust Stains on #clothdiapers via @chgdiapers

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Kaitlyn asks:

What is the best (and safest) way to get rust out of diapers? I use BumGenius 4.0 and I accidentally left some in the washer at our new house for 2 days. The rust that was in the washer wore off onto the diapers from sitting. I have rewashed multiple times and sunning isn’t enough! I definitely won’t bleach them until I get the rust out so it won’t set in hopefully.

Of course, my first thought was sun, sun & vinegar and/or sun & lemon juice. Kaitlyn’s diaper & inserts are both affected, and she has already tried sun, along with vinegar, lemon juice and a salt vinegar paste in the sun.

If the citric acid in the lemon juice and the acetic acid in the vinegar wasn’t enough, you could try a paste of cream of tartar (tartaric acid) or soaking them in a solution of cream of tartar dissolved in water. You could also try combining lemon juice & salt or cream of tartar & salt. Try to keep the fabric damp throughout the treatment (aim for 24 hours) and sun while damp as well. Also be sure to rinse them thoroughly as the hope is that the acid will make the rust water soluble.

If you’re wondering why Kaitlyn (and I) didn’t go to bleach, bleach can cause rust stains to be permanent! Oxalic Acid (like in Barkeeper’s Friend) and CLR would likely be too rough for diapers. There is a commercial rust stain remover called Whink and Carbona makes a stain remover designed for rust however, I do not know how suedecloth and microfiber (let alone elastic & PUL) would hold up to these products.

If it were me, I’d probably try various vinegar, lemon juice, salt, cream of tarter & sun combinations, they cut my losses and consider them stained (so sad!) Better to have a functional, stained diaper than one ruined by commercial rust removal products!

Have you successfully removed rust stains from diapers?

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Maria Moser
Maria is the mother of 3, writing about cloth diapers & going green. You'll often find her juggling her preschooler and typing 1-handed in between sips of cold coffee. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development and other services.
  • Lisa D
    November 23, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    My mom uses “Iron Out” on her normal laundry and it takes iron stains out really well. Not sure what it’d do to a diaper though. You could always try it on one and see what happens to it?

  • Kaitlyn
    November 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I tried the calgon first, then the vinegar, then the assorted combos…the vinegar was what helped take out most of it but they are all a lovely shade of orange still! It seems to be slowly fading though.

  • Jessica Long
    November 18, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Stop using vinegar! That’s likely making it worse! Ivwould try soaking them in calgon and bottled water

  • Paige
    November 18, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    I have never had this issue, but reading it, my first thought is to try RLR. Maybe that would help to get the rust out? Sorry, Mama!

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