Stains, Stains and More Stains!

Stains, Stains and More Stains!
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We get more emails regarding the removal of stains than almost any other topic! It's something we all have in common, regardless of where in the world we live. If one method doesn't work, try another! There is so much variation as far as surfaces, age of stain, and other conditions that what works for one person, doesn't always work for the next.

Mix a cream of tartar, which is a mild acid, with water to make a paste and place on the rust stains. Rub after it sits for a little while and rinse. You may need to do this a few times.

You can also try a paste made with borax and lemon juice and allow it to sit on the stain until dry, then rinse. One last paste that you can try is one of scouring powder, cream of tartar and peroxide. Allow this one to sit for 1/2 hour then rinse. Don't scrub, especially on fiberglass tubs.

One of our subscribers, Susan, shares her favorite products for removing rust and stains.

"The very best product to remove rust from tubs, showers and sinks is Zap. It's concentrated, so make sure to dilute it. I bought some yesterday at Andersons for about $6, it came as a twin pack, with scrubbers (which you don't really need), and a little bottle of Zap for colored grout. Use in well ventilated area and don't leave on any metal for any period of time or it will discolor it. Takes care of the rust in about ten minutes with little or no scrubbing, also removes soap scum!

The best thing for toilets is Zud. Price is about $2, it comes as a powder or a new liquid version. Sprinkle it in the bowl, use toilet brush, add water to allow solution to cover water line ring, then sprinkle a little more on sides where rusty stripes are. Let sit for one hour, swish with brush and flush. Works wonders! If you have rusty whites from the laundry, use Rit Rust Remover, follow directions. Do an entire load at a time, just don't use it on colors! I realize these products are not all natural, but they work better than anything I've ever tried. Save your elbows for playing ball with the kids."

Melly shared "To remove rust from white clothing, soap the clothing, do not rinse, put lemon juice on the rust spot, add some milk. Let stand overnight. Following morning, hand wash spot. It should go easily."

Catherine, our resident Herb Lady, shared her favorite: "I have found Bar Keeper's Friend (they have a website and have been around since 1882) to be one of the best cleaners for rust stains, even on clothes. It comes in a can like Comet. On clothes make a paste and gently work in on both sides of cloth and let sit (white toothpaste also works this way), then wash as usual. Sink stains, just need the BKF to sit, wet on the stain for about a minute. The BFK is safe for septic systems also."


I was reading your "household tip" on removing oil from a garage floor and wanted to tell you of one I have used. Coca Cola!!!! Works great but makes me wonder what it may be doing to a persons stomach...~Val

If an automobile drips oil onto concrete surfaces, spread granule soap powder ( Cheer, etc. ) onto the oil spot. A good way to apply is to build a small dam and dampen the product with water also it is best to catch the spot when small ( 1" or so in diameter ). ~Ron Schnell


Make a paste of cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide or cream of tartar and white vinegar. Rub the paste lightly into the stain and allow to it to dry for about an hour. Rinse thoroughly and buff dry.

Another method: For the shower stall or around a sink faucet, soak an old washcloth or rag in straight vinegar and lay the cloth over the area for as long as needed. Scrub gently and rinse.

Toilet stains are often tougher: To remove tough toilet stains, use a pumice stone. Empty the toilet bowl of water. Then soak the pumice stone in water. Rub the stains/areas but don't scrub too hard.

Another option: Make a paste of Borax and lemon juice. Let it sit for a couple of hours, scrub with a toilet brush and rinse.


Elizabeth emailed that she has a Kaki color skirt that has splatters of tar on the front that won't come off. I did some research and tar is a difficult one.I found several methods for removing tar, but I'm a unsure of some of them as far as the remedy itself leaving a stain. For instance, rubbing margarine on the tar spot and then washing. This could leave a grease stain, but then again, if you pretreat and wash it might be fine and better than tar..

Other options: Lestoil full strength on the stain, and then place it in a plastic bag over night. Wash the next day in very hot water. May take two times and line dry each time. One of the concentrated orange cleaners will often remove tar as well. Same precautions on the cleaner staining. If all else fails call an auto parts store and see what they recommend. There are some strong removers out there, so use carefully.

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About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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