Rust is unsightly and a pain to clean. As a leading plumbing service provider in Charlottesville, our team at The Otter Guys receives plenty of questions about removing rust stains from plumbing. Here we’ll talk a bit about the cause of rust, cleaning methods, and proactive solutions to avoid future rust.
Here’s what you need to know to keep your sink and toilet looking their best.
What is Rust and Where Does it Come From?
Rust is caused by a chemical reaction between corroding steel, oxygen, and water. This happens when steel begins to break down due to wear or damage. The iron particles in the steel are essentially stolen by acid electrolytes in water. The result is the orange material we know as rust.
Toilets and sinks aren’t made of steel, so why do they have rust stains? The brown stains come from iron in the water. The iron could be coming from old corroding pipes or simply as a mineral in your water source.
When air, water, and iron come together, as we mentioned above, they form rust. So, as the water sits in your sink basin or toilet, the rust particles settle to the bottom If left long enough, they stain the white porcelain.
Removing Rust Stains and Cleaning Sinks and Toilets
Many homeowners are tempted to start pouring bleach down the toilet when rust appears. This is a bad idea. Bleach is highly corrosive and could damage your plumbing when flushed away. It could also chemically alter the rust molecules, making the stain worse.
Avoid harsh cleaning tools that might scratch your toilet or sink surface. The more porous the surface, the easier it stains, and the more difficult it becomes to remove those stains.
Some of our go-to tricks include:
1. Baking Soda and Vinegar
This is a tried-and-true favourite of plumbers. It’s all-natural, gentle on the plumbing, and usually gets the job done. In a small dish, mix three tablespoons of baking soda with one tablespoon of water. It will fizz slightly and form a paste. Use the paste as a cleaner with a firm-bristled scrub brush.
2. Pumice Stone
That’s right. The scrubbing tool you use to treat callused feet is great for removing rust. Dampen the pumice before using, so it softens slightly and doesn’t scratch the surface of your toilet or sink. You can use this in combination with the paste mixture above or with a basic mix of 1:1 water and vinegar spray.
3. Salt and Lemon
Another natural cleaning product to try in the bathroom is lemon juice and salt. This is a simple and trustworthy DIY cleaner. Mix salt and lemon juice together in a ratio of 2:1. It should create a grainy liquid.
Plug the sink and pour the liquid in to soak for half an hour. Similarly, you can pour the mixture into the toilet to soak. Then scrub with a scrub brush or your pumice.
Some non-natural cleaning methods to apply to rust include Borax or Barkeeper’s Friend. Both products are helpful in removing stains and bacteria.
Keeping Stains Away
Cleaning rust from the toilet and sink will give it a polished look, but how do you keep it that way? Proactive measures are important to prevent more rust from forming.
Remove Metal Items from Tub and Sink
From shaving cream cans to razor blades, metal items left on sinks and shower shelves leave stains. The same is true for hair care items like hair pins and clips with metal on them. Remove these items when not in use to prevent rust development.
Keep Things Clean and Dry
The best way to keep things shiny and new is with regular cleanings. This prevents iron from settling for too long against the surface of your plumbing. Similarly, you should keep your sink and tub dry when not in use. Drying your toilet and tub might sound a bit strange, but it removes iron residue, limiting exposure.
Talk to a Plumber
Depending on the age of your home and plumbing system, you might be due for an upgrade. Talk to your plumber about swapping out pipes to prevent rust in your home. Your plumber may also have some other good tips for rust prevention, like installing a water softener system.
Call The Otter Guys Today
If you live in Charlottesville and are interested in learning more about keeping rust stains out of your home, we can help. Call The Otter Guys today for a consultation.