In one way or the other, you have seen rust in your plastics. The rusts on plastics can be a pain to eliminate, though not impossible. Plastic doesn’t rust, but they obtain rust from other rusty surrounding materials.
Where Do Plastics Get the Rust?
The reaction of iron and moisture causes the rust stains we often see on plastic. Cracks or creases make plastic more susceptible to pesky marks.
Also, plastics may rust due to recent or frequent contact with rusty metal, for instance, a plastic bucket with a rusting metal handle. Start by limiting contact with rusty materials and excess water from the surfaces.
How Acids Remove Rust Stains
While it may not interest you how the acids deal with rust, it is basic to understand how your acidic supplies will remove the rust.
Both lemon juice and vinegar are acidic as lemon juice contains citric acid, whereas vinegar contains acetic acid.
The acid dissolves the rust on the plastic surface, leaving behind salt, so I advise you to wipe it away immediately after the rust has dissolved.
How to Remove Rust from Plastic
Remove rust stains from plastic by scrubbing the surface using a magic eraser with a soapy water solution or soak the rust stains in lemon juice or vinegar and baking soda, then scrub the surface using an abrasive sponge or cloth. These two methods should leave your plastic rust stain-free.
You may use other methods to remove the rust stain depending on the rust stain level, time, and the effort you are willing to put in.
Several supplies work well, so read through to pick your best.
How to Remove Rust from Plastic Using a Detergent (Dish soap)
The method works best on simple/light rust stains
Supplies You Will Need
- Rough cloth/sponge
- Dish soap
- Clean towel
Step 1: Add dish soap to a bucket/container of warm water to form a warm water soapy solution
Step 2: Dip the rough cloth/sponge into the water and rub it on the rust stains.
Step 3: Apply medium pressure as you continue rubbing since excess pressure may damage the plastic surface
Step 4: Once the rust is gone, rinse the surface using cold water and wipe using a clean towel to dry.
Remember the method works best on light or fresh rust stains.
How to Remove Rust from Plastic Using a Magic Eraser
Magic erasers are made of micro-abrasive foam, making them able to polish away rust stains on the plastic. I have used this method to clean my plastic tub.
Yes, it is time-consuming and may leave you exhausted because you will apply medium to strong pressure to erase the rust stains.
Supplies You Will Need
- Dish soap
- Magic eraser
Step 1: Add a soap dish to a water container to form a soapy solution. You can also use pure water.
Step 2: Wet the magic eraser. Wetting the eraser activates the abrasives, allowing them to dig dip into the rust stains on the plastic surface.
Step 3: Squeeze out excess water. Before rubbing off the rust stains, squeeze out excess water 2 to 4 times. It makes the foaming cleanser to make some foam, making it ready to remove the rust stains.
Step 4: Rub the magic eraser over the rust stains using firm and steady swipes.
Step 5: Repeat the process until you remove all the rust stains
Step 6: After removing the rust stains, rinse the surface using clean water
You may be required to try the method more than once to achieve the desired outcome, but if the stains are too strong, you may use acidic solutions.
How to Remove Rust from Plastic Using Vinegar and Baking Soda
Using vinegar and baking soda paste is the easiest way to remove rust from plastics. You can either make a paste of vinegar and baking soda or pour the baking soda and then spray the vinegar on the plastic surface.
Supplies You Will Need
- Baking Soda
- Dish Soap
- Abrasive Sponge
- Plastic Scrapper
- Clean Cloth/Rag
- Spray Cleaner
- Stirring Stick
Step 1: Use soapy water and a rag to clean the surface. Washing the surface helps remove the debris that might appear as rust, therefore, letting us deal with rust stains only. Also, sometimes what might appear as rust is just dirt buildup; cleaning the surface might save you time.
Step 2: Create a cleaning paste. Add enough baking soda into a dish and pour one tablespoon of vinegar at a time while mixing with a stirring stick to form a thick paste. Anticipate fizzing as you do the mixing.
Step 3: Apply the paste on the rust stain and ensure the stain is all covered. Let the paste work on the rust for 10 to 15 minutes. If the rust stain is not on a level surface, cover the paste and the stain using a clean cloth saturated in vinegar.
Step 4: Scrub the paste and rust off the surface using an abrasive sponge or plastic scraper. Scrub in circular motions, using medium pressure. You will notice the rust stains are lifting off but not entirely. You can repeat the process 2 to 4 times to achieve the desired outcome.
Step 5: After getting rid of the stain, spray down the surface using a spray cleaner to remove the residues of baking soda and vinegar. Wipe down using a rag.
Step 6: Rinse the plastic surface using clean water and allow it to dry to have a clean and smooth surface ready for use.
You can use toothpaste as an alternative.
How to Remove Rust from Plastic with Lemon Juice
Lemon juice also works well on rust stains because it is acidic.
Supplies You Will Need
- Lemon/lemon juice
- Abrasive sponge
- Clean rag
Step 1: Wipe the surface using a damp rag to remove buildup dirt and debris
Step 2: Make a 50-50 water and lemon juice solution and pour it into a spray bottle.
Step 3: Spray the solution on the rusted surface evenly. Ensure to cover all the rusty areas.
Step 4: Let the solution work on the stain for 5 to 10 minutes before wiping off using a clean towel.
Step 5: Repeat the process if necessary to achieve the desired outcome.
For Stubborn Rust Stains;
Step 1: Mix lemon juice and borax to form a thick paste
Step 2: Spread the paste on the rusted area and leave it overnight
Step 3: Scrub the paste and the rust off with an abrasive sponge/scrubbing pad in the morning
Step 4: Repeat the process if necessary to remove all the rust.
Step 5: Rinse the surface using clean water and a towel to have a smooth, clean surface once you have removed all the rust.
You can also cut a lemon into two halves, then rub the two halves if necessary on the affected area. Let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes as it weakens the rust—Scrub off the rust using an abrasive sponge. For a better outcome, you may repeat the process. Rinse the surface using clean water once satisfied.
You may also use lemon juice and baking powder for stubborn rust stains.
How to Remove Rust from Plastic Using Rust Removers
I am sure you have searched about rust removers on the internet if you have ever had your precious plastics rust-stained.
There are lots of products that claim to remove rust from plastics in the market without much effort. Actually, the products work well as they instantly oxidize the rust without you scrubbing. You can use B&D Rust Remover or WD-40 Specialist Rust Dissolver.
Apply the rust remover on the stained area evenly. Please wait for a few minutes as it oxidizes the rust. Rinse with clean water to have a sparkling clean surface.
However, many DIY homeowners hesitate to use the removers because they can be detrimental to human health since they contain chemicals that release toxic fumes.
The toxic fumes can cause skin burns and breathing complications. Therefore, wear protective gear such as gloves and mask/respirator when handling rust removers at home/work.
Many people also love going the economical way to clean the plastic surface, such as using the readily available household items. However, if you prefer the rust removers, I bet you’ll achieve the best results.
How to Remove Rust from Plastic Using a Soft Drink, e.g., Coca Cola
Coca-Cola contains phosphoric acid that reacts with iron oxide to dissolve the rust. While using Coca-Cola is economical and environmentally friendly, it has less phosphoric acid, making it slower than other methods.
Supplies You Will Need
- Plastic/Glass Container
- Coca Cola
- Plastic Scrubbing Pad/Rough Sponge
- Clean Towel
Step 1: Pour Coca-Cola into a plastic/glass container. Ensure the coke is enough to cover the plastic items you will soak.
Step 2: Immerse the rust-stained plastic item and let it soak for 24 hours. If the item is too large to be soaked, pour coke on the surface and cover it using a coke-dampened towel.
Step 3: Remove the plastic from the container and scrub the stain off using a plastic scrubbing pad until all the rust is gone. You may repeat the process to remove all the rust.
Step 4: After removing all the rust, rinse the item using clean water to remove the coke and rust residues
Step 5: Allow the items to dry. You may paint them if necessary.
How to Remove Rust from Plastic Using a Plastic Cleaner
Plastic cleaner precisely removes unwanted spots on plastic surfaces, making an ideal alternative to remove rust stains from plastic.
Apply the cleaner directly onto the surface and rub it on the stained area using an abrasive sponge or steel wool until all the rust stains are gone. Wipe using a damp towel to wipe off the excess plastic cleaner and rust residues.
How to Remove Rust from Plastic with Oven Cleaner
Oven cleaner also works well in removing rust stains from plastic. Apply oven cleaner on the stained area and cover it using an oven dampened towel for 8 hours. You can also soak smaller items in a container. Embrace patience since stubborn stains may take time to break down.
You may be required to repeat the process if you don’t achieve the desired outcome on the first attempt. Once you are satisfied, rinse the surface using clean water and allow it to dry.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Rust Remover Damage Plastic?
Rust removers will not damage plastics. Removing rust using chemicals is as simple as soaking the rust in a rust remover solution. The solution attacks the oxidized iron without harming the rubber, painted surface, or plastic.
How Do You Remove Rust From Vinyl?
Lemon juice and white vinegar will help you remove rust from vinyl. Combine ¼ cup of baking soda, ½ cup of white vinegar or lemon juice, and 1-gallon water. Spread the solution on the affected surface and let it rest for one hour. Wipe the surface using a damp towel or clean water. You may repeat the process if you don’t achieve the anticipated results on the first attempt.
Does Bleach Remove Rust?
You cannot remove rust using Clorox® Regular Bleach2 or any chlorine bleach. Instead, use rust remover products that you can acquire from the hardware stores near you.
I hope the methods and steps on removing rust from plastic will help you achieve the desired outcome. If your plastics catch rust stains, do not be distraught since there are natural ways you can use to remove the rust apart from the commercial rust removers.
The best way to avoid rust is to evade putting them near rusty metals and maintain low moisture levels on the plastics. Ensure the plastics are, most of the time, dry.
Observe the precautions and enjoy your DIY project.