How to Remove Rust From Tiles?

Photo of a person's hands cleaning floor tiles. How to Remove Rust From Tiles?

Is your tile getting rust marks on it? No worries; it happens to everyone. Here’s how to remove rust from tiles, as well as tips to get it looking its best in no time!

Your first choice to remove rust from tiles is to use a bit of lemon juice straight from the fruit. Next, bleach or vinegar. Other popular options include using half of a tomato and rock salt. You can even use a simple dab of toothpaste!

If you have porous tile, you should pair a brush with dish soap and warm water. For those stubborn stains, add three tablespoons of baking soda to the mix.

Once you remove the rust stain, you’ll want to learn how to protect your tile from this happening again. I’ve got all the information you need waiting below!

What causes rust on tiles?

As you may already know, rust results from metal coming into contact with a small amount of moisture. Since moisture tends to be everywhere, you’ll find rust stains under metal appliances and furniture. While it isn’t necessarily bad for your health, it isn’t a good thing to have around your home!

How to remove rust from tiles

Luckily, removing rust isn’t very difficult. The steps to follow include:

  • Porous or non-porous tiles?
  • What materials are your tiles made from?
  • What cleaning methods do you like most?

Porous or non-porous tiles?

As I mentioned in my introduction, porous and non-porous tiles require different treatments. What is safe for porous is not safe for non-porous and can just worsen the problem and damage your tile! 

Porous tiles absorb water and stains, requiring a “gentler” approach to cleaning as far as products are concerned. Non-porous tiles only hold their stain on the outside layer and hold up well to acidic cleaners. However, you won’t want to use abrasive brushes on non-porous tiles!

What materials are your tiles made from?

There’s more than one type of material used for tile in your home. According to The Constructor, the most common kind of floor tiles are ceramic. However, you can also find porcelain, stoneware, terracotta, and earthenware tiles.

Ceramic tiles are porous, but only slightly. Many tile experts believe that you can virtually treat them like non-porous tiles. If you want to play it safe, use the non-porous cleaning methods on these tiles.

Porcelain tiles are non-porous, so you can use the more acidic cleaners and techniques on those without worrying about acidity causing damage to the tile itself. 

What cleaning methods do you like most?

You saw some options in the introduction, and the odds are that some appealed to you more than others. Let’s take a closer look at all of those.

When cleaning non-porous tiles

The options I mention when cleaning porous tiles are:

  • Lemon juice
  • Bleach
  • Vinegar
  • A tomato and rock salt
  • Toothpaste

Lemon juice

This is the easiest option as far as effort is concerned! Just cut a lemon in half and squeeze its juice over the stain. After a few minutes, scrub with an old toothbrush and wipe clean!


Pour a few drops of bleach over the stain and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, spread some water on the bleach and wipe it away. For extra caution, do another wipe with straight water on the cloth to ensure all the bleach is up!


Similarly, pour a few drops of straight vinegar onto your rust stain. Spread it into the stain with an old toothbrush, then let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Then wipe up with straight water (maybe twice to ensure up).

Fun Fact:

Cola can work in place of vinegar if that’s all you have in the house!

A tomato and rock salt

This one sounds strange, but it works great! Cut a tomato in half and apply it directly onto the stain. As you rub, squeeze a bit to ensure the tomato’s acidity remains. Then sprinkle some rock salt onto the stain and rub that in with an old toothbrush. Wipe it up with water; it’ll be as good as new.


Rock salt can be irritating or dangerous to children and pets, according to Poison, so really wipe that solution up for their safety!


This is another easy one. Dab some toothpaste and rub it in (you already know what tool to use here!). Wipe it up thoroughly with water after a few minutes!

When cleaning porous tiles

When dealing with more sensitive porous tiles, your options are slightly limited when wanting to protect your tile’s integrity. These include:

  • Dish soap and water
  • Dish soap and baking soda, and water

Dish soap and water

Use your favorite dish soap with warm water and gently rub the stained area. It may take more “elbow grease,” but the rust will come off. You can use a toothbrush, a classic dish brush, or a durable rag.

Dish soap and baking soda, and water

This is the same thing you saw above, but it adds a bit of baking soda for extra scrubbing power. You can either dissolve the baking soda in the warm water or sprinkle it into the solution as you spread it over the stain.

Are there any other options for getting rust off tile?

Yes, you can use homemade methods such as baking soda and vinegar to remove rust from tile, though it isn’t my preferred method. This is strange for me to say since Cleanipedia explains that it’s one of the most popular ways to remove rust. So, why don’t I like it?

It takes vinegar and baking soda three days to remove rust from tile flooring. If you’re like most people, you can’t section off that piece of tile for three days or longer. While it’s great for all-natural cleaning, it’s not designed for a modern household!

Does vinegar remove rust permanently from tile?

Vinegar will remove rust from your tile floor if you follow the instructions above on how to use it and even how long to use it. You should let the vinegar sit on the tile to remove rust for about 10-15 minutes. If your tile is very light-colored, wipe it off after 10 minutes and rinse it thoroughly with water.

As I mentioned earlier, vinegar won’t damage your tiles, assuming you are using it on non-porous tiles. Vinegar is very acidic and is a standard cleaner around the house for this reason. It’s an excellent choice for breaking down rust, but it can damage porous tiles!

You may know that vinegar is like a natural bleach. If misused, it can bleach colors as well as traditional bleach. You won’t need to worry about vinegar discoloring your floor as long as you use it on the right tile and as directed. 


If you’re extra nervous about vinegar’s bleaching ability, test this on a small part of your tile floor, typically covered by a rug or furniture!

Can baking soda remove rust from tiles?

Baking soda is a wonderful natural option to remove rust from tiles. You can use it loosely as a powder, but you’ll find it more helpful mixed with the warm water and dish soap method I mentioned above. Baking soda is safe for tile and won’t hurt porous or non-porous tiles

Do lemons remove rust?

It seems strange that something simple could remove rust, but it’s an excellent rust remover. It’s so naturally acidic that it’s going to break down the rust well, even if it doesn’t seem possible with something that we tend to use for iced tea!

What’s the best rust remover?

If you want to skip all of the inferior choices and get right to the best, you’ll find that commercial-made rust removal products will outshine the DIY options I discussed above.

However, the risk in these commercial products is that many aren’t as safe for tile as the natural options I’ve been focusing on. If you want to go with those commercial options, be sure that it states it’s safe for tiles!

How to prevent rust from returning to tiles

If you want to stop rust from being a future problem, there are a few things to help you! These include:

  • Add a layer between your metal appliance and your ceramic tile
  • Clean beneath your metal appliance/item regularly
  • Keep your floors dry as often as possible, particularly around metal items

While rust will be an issue around any metal you have, you can combat it pretty well with prevention and any necessary clean-up if you have to!

When removing rust from your floor, you’ll want to determine if you have porous or non-porous tile to get the right cleaning method.

You can use lemon juice, bleach, vinegar, tomato and rock salt, and toothpaste for cleaning rust from non-porous floors. If you’ve got non-porous floors, you’ll want to stick with warm water, dish soap, and baking soda.

Know someone that needs some support in cleaning their tile floor? Please share this with them to offer them honest advice!

Rosa Peterson

Rose is the writer and creator of Better That Home, a blog about home design and decor. Rose has been designing spaces for over 10 years and writing home design and decor for big publishers. She has been inspired by many other creatives from around the world and loves to share those inspirations with her readers. Read more about Rose here