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How Do You Remove Brownish Rust Stains From An Old Cast-Iron Bathtub?

Cast-iron bathtubs and sinks have their own unique vintage charm, that’s why my husband and I choose to decorate our upstairs bathroom with these common fixtures. They last for decades and don’t need often restoration, but the bad news is that after a few years of use it can turn into a grimy and discolored bathtub or sink, full of brownish-rusty stains.

I, for instance, after cleaning the cast-iron bathtub and sink with the wrong products, I managed to ruin the porcelain enamel surface of these fixtures. It seems that harsh products accelerate the deterioration of the surface so, don’t you think in using scouring powders or high acidic content products. You need gentle cleaners even if the cleaning process is longer (you have to apply the cleaner more than once).

Well, after ruining my own porcelain enamel bathtub which, by the way, was full of some disgusting brown stains, I recall to the following cleaning agent that is gentle with the enamel surface and removes completely any brown stain from your bathtub and sink. Works well for rust stains, too!

You need:

  • Dish soap (I used blue Dawn dish soap)
  • Salt
  • Lemon


  • Nylon sponge
  • Soft cloth

As it’s recommended, you should clean the bathroom weekly to maintain a clean and well-disinfected environment. For this, you can prepare a gentle cleaner for porcelain enamel surfaces as it follows:

  • Mix 1 gallon of hot water with 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap. Stir until foam is made, take a soft cloth and use this soapy water to clean the tub and sink. Rinse well at the end because the surface can be slippery.

In case the cast-iron bathtub or sink is filled with brown and rusty stains, you should recall to stronger cleaner as the one below:

  • Start by covering the brown or rusty area with salt then cut a lemon in half and squeeze its juice over the salt. Let it stand for a couple of minutes, and then rub the stain with the nylon sponge. If the stain is too stubborn, apply more salt over it and squeeze another lemon, but this time leave the salty solution to act for an hour, then you can rub it with the nylon sponge.
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