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How to Remove Rust Stains from Concrete Patio or Driveway

Nasty, orange rust makes driveways and patios look ugly and worn-down – so let’s take a look at how to remove rust stains from concrete with ease.

Removing rust from concrete paving, a garage floor or a driveway is a quick job once you know what to use; however, time is of the essence. The sooner you tackle those iron oxide stains, the better.

We’ve got years of experience in cleaning rust stains between us and believe us – we’ve tried all seven of the methods on our list. All work well in different scenarios, but some will differ in terms of effort and cost.

All kinds of things can leave rust on your concrete surface, be it tools, furniture, or other bits and pieces. Left to persist, they’re going to make your garden or driveway look pretty shabby.

In this guide, we’ll show you quick ways to remove rust stains from patio stones and driveway paving with:

  • Lemon juice
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda and detergent
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Commercial cleaner
  • Coca Cola
  • WD 40

Rust stain removal doesn’t have to be a hassle, but depending on the stubborn stains you’re suffering from, be prepared to set a budget! Let’s dive in.

7 Ways to Remove Rust Stains From Concrete

Lemon juice, acid, baking soda, even bottles of pop – all can dissolve a rust stain in a pinch. Let’s look at natural cleaners and specially formulated solutions to get those tough stains up and moving.

Lemon juice

If you’re suffering from minor stains to your concrete, then lemon juice is surprisingly effective. It’s an excellent all-around cleaning option; while it won’t hack at deeper rust staining like strong acids, it’s a safe, cheap option.

Grab a brush and a bottle of lemon juice. Gently soak the lightly rusted surface for up to 15 minutes, and then put in some elbow grease with a circular motion. This should let the lemon juice dissolve much of the staining before you go for the scrub brush.

Rinse your concrete driveway or patio down with water afterwards and marvel at the results. The high concentration of milder acid makes it great for light stain problems.

Vinegar

White vinegar, much like lemon juice, is a household acid that does a good job of cleaning up minor rust stain issues, providing you have a stiff brush to back you up. In fact, the application and scrubbing are much the same.

Soak the rusted surface in white vinegar for up to 15 minutes, and again, start scrubbing in small circles once it’s had a chance to soak in. If the staining’s light enough, it should lift off without much worry.

At the end of the process, give it a good spray or wash it down with the garden hose and leave it to dry.

Baking soda and detergent

If you have baking soda and laundry detergent already in your cupboards, then you have another home remedy that just needs a bit of preparation.

Grab a paintbrush and fill a spray bottle with water. Then, mix up your detergent and soda in equal amounts with cold water until you’ve got a paste. Brush the mixture onto the stain, covering all the rust you can with your paintbrush.

You’ll need to leave the stain for about an hour. The spray bottle comes in handy to keep it moist. Then, when the time’s passed, scrub hard and rinse.

This is a mid-range option that should get most smaller stains up. It’s a reliable rust remover on concrete, but not the best.

Hydrochloric acid

Hydrochloric is the winner when it comes to eroding rust stain straight out of concrete, but it’s also very dangerous. This strong acid is likely to burn just about everything it touches.

Grab protective gear such as eye protection and gloves, and cover your skin. Then, add one part of water to two parts of acid. Mix up, and apply gently to the stain. This is going to act quickly, so come back to the concrete floor after ten minutes. Longer, and your concrete is going to develop whole new stains. Scrub, and carefully rinse.

Yes, hydrochloric acid does the business, but it’s more hazardous than other materials and should only be used in a well-ventilated area.

Commercial cleaner

Commercial rust remover is your most expensive option, but they get the best results for our money as they contain oxalic acid. Uses for this type of product will vary, so always read the bottle.

For example, a standard rust remover will need a quick spray and a good scrub with metal bristles. This is a product that’s designed to get rid of rust, so you can pretty much rely on the results if you shop with a good brand.

It’s tempting to go for cheaper options such as white vinegar – but to get stubborn stains up, go for professional concrete rust stain remover.

Coca Cola

Yes, if you have a bottle of pop going spare, it might just save you power washing down that rust. Again, it’s to do with the acid content.

All you need to do is pour Coke, Pepsi, Lemonade, Irn-Bru, you name it – onto the rust stain. Soak it for up to 15 minutes, work it with a scrub brush, and rinse with water. It’s the white vinegar method.

Again, fizzy pop works well at removing rust stains from concrete to an extent.

This short video shows how effective Coke is on rust.

WD-40

WD 40 is something all DIYers should have in their toolboxes, and it happens to be great at lifting rust stains from concrete. That’s because it’s developed to penetrate surfaces such as concrete very easily.

Using WD 40 to get rid of rust stains from concrete is as simple as giving the affected area a good spray over and then taking your wire scrubber to get down deep. WD 40 tends to work on pretty much everything straight away, meaning there’s no need for you to wait for more than a few minutes.

Generally, it’s advisable to wash away with warm water or out of the hose to ensure the surface is clean afterwards.

How is a Rust Stain Caused?

The biggest cause of rust stains on concrete paving is metal. That might be furniture or tools you’ve left in the same spot for a while or equipment that’s gotten wet and you’ve not moved into the shed.

For the chemists among you, here is the scientific cause of rust appearing

Other causes can include some fertilisers, liquid plant food, or even metal rebar used with the concrete.

What About Stubborn Rust Stains?

The most stubborn of rust stains will need the toughest acids and compounds. Professional cleaners built for the job, generally, will do the best work.

Muriatic acid is a reliable choice for tougher stains. You’ll need to mix this with plenty of water (1:10).

Trisodium phosphate, too, is industrial, professional stuff that will get to work on rust very quickly. You’ll need protective clothing and goggles – mix half a cup of the formula with half a gallon of water. Look at oxalic acid, too, for similar results.

FAQ’s

Will bleach remove rust from concrete surfaces?

You’d think so, but no – bleach won’t dissolve rust. It’s fantastic for removing algae and moss, but chlorine won’t do a thing to rust stains, so keep it in the bathroom or kitchen cupboard.

Will pressure washing remove rust stains?

If you use a pressure washer with a good rust removing solution, you may find it gets your stains up and moving. However, on its own, a pressure washer tends to be best at clearing surface dirt – not deeper stains.

What’s the best concrete rust remover in the UK?

For our money, you should be looking for professional rust removal solutions, or WD 40, for the best overall results. Some acids soak deep into concrete, but they’re not always safe.

The Last Word

Rust in concrete isn’t pretty. Thankfully, all of the ways to remove rust stains listed above work wonders to different extents. There’s no one way to get rid of rust – a lot of it’s down to personal choice. Now you know how to remove rust stains from concrete, pick an option that suits you.

However, whether it’s a garage floor, a driveway or a small patio, the best rust remover for concrete is a specialist cleaning product. It means you’re likely to invest more money in the solution, but if that means getting nasty orange rings and iron deposits off your paving, then it’s all for the better. It’ll work great if you have intense stains on your concrete patio, too.

Try any of the above ideas to remove rust stains from outdoor concrete – and at absolute worst, think about changing your patio furniture. Simple!