Need to remove rust on vinyl siding
A discussion started in 2004 & continuing through 2017
Q. Wanting to get rust stains off my chimney that the metal is started to run rust down the side of the house in the front. I heard that
manatic ^muriatic acid will; is that true and will I need to get a professional to do the work or will that work with just a hose spraying it off... I have a light beige vinyl siding. Thank you.
homeowner - Virginia Beach, Virginia
A. Should I read here, Muriatic Acid [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] (hydrochloric acid) instead of manatic acid? This will work most likely, as might citric acid. You would want to be careful your siding is not damaged, and so might want to try a small spot first. Rust is basically iron oxide, and that is attacked by a number of acids. The trick is to find the simplest and safest one that is effective and that does not attack the siding. I would try citric acid first, and then hydrochloric, though the latter is likely much easier to work with! Rubber protective gloves [linked by editor to product info at Amazon], and avoiding the fumes, etc., are in order.Vincent E. Summers
- Charlottesville, Virginia
A. An easy and safe way to get rid of "rust" stains on vinyl siding is to use "Lime-A-Way [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]" cleaner. I worked as a maintenance man for a local mobile home sales company and one of my responsibilities was to pressure wash the houses and keep the rust stains off. All of the houses used vinyl siding. For regular cleaning, use a diluted solution of chlorine bleach and water (about 1 in 10 parts). Bleach is a surface tension inhibitor (lubricant). Any built up dirt will run off of the vinyl siding within 2 to 3 minutes, then just spray fresh water on the siding. The rust stains are not real rust, but lime deposits. I spray the deposits with Lime Away and the deposits will dissolve within 1 or 2 days.Raymond Bliss
- Jacksonville, Florida
Ed. note: You're experienced at it, Raymond, and if it works, it works. But we have a hard time agreeing with you that the deposits are lime.
Q. I have been watering my yard and not even caring about the well water hitting the siding on my garage and side of my house. I've read that possibly Lime Away for a form of citric acid or hydrochloric acid might work. How would I apply these solvents and is there something in a name brand available that might be easier on me?
thanks a lot in advance!
- Mokena, Illinois
July 18, 2008
A. I have spent all week trying to get the rust off my vinyl siding and finally found the magic. It's called RustAid by WM Barr and Co. =>
Spray it on in a sprayer straight and the rust is gone in minutes. Then just hose it down. It took a Gallon to do 2 sides of the house. It comes in a maroon container.It is in with the heavy household cleaners. There is also one for indoors that is in a quart bottle.I tried Clorox straight and CLR and Limeaway but it didn't budge the rust. This RustAid is awesome.
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
July 27, 2009
A. I purchased an expensive vinyl siding rust remover and a bottle of "CLR". Neither one worked....at all!
By chance I bought a bottle of "The Works" at the dollar general store because it said it will remove rust from toilets. What did I have to lose? Just $1.
I was pleasantly surprised. It removed the rust stains on vinyl siding almost instantly. It is 1/5th the cost of "lime-a-way" and "CLR" plus you can cut it to a 50/50 mixture with water and it still works great.
Apply to concrete sidewalks and driveways at 100% concentration and it will clean it to a like new finish.
- Granger, Indiana
April 25, 2010
I just completed a power wash of my house with yellow vinyl siding. The irrigation system left rust stains on the siding from where the wind blows the mist onto the siding. The power washing didn't touch the stains. I tried "The Works" as recommended in this post and it worked extremely well. Quickly, efficiently, then rinsed to remove all the chemical which is [dilute] HCl. I did a 12 sq. ft area in about 1 1/2 minutes...thanks John.Michael Cherubini
- Hampstead, North Carolina
July 31, 2010
A. I too had rust stains on my vinyl siding from my irrigation system and nothing seemed to work until I read this thread. I bought Works at our local Dollar General store ($1.50) and it really does work. I had to put it on full strength but after a minute or so I was able to wash it off and the rust came away. I followed up with a soap and water wash and final rinse. The product works for even severe rust stains on siding.
- Quantico, Maryland, USA
August 13, 2010
A. I use well water to water my lawn and am usually very careful not to let overspray hit the house, but one day the wind blew the water on the house and left behind a rust like color stain all over the side of the house. It was most likely hard water stains or something of that nature. I panicked needless to say. I saw the posting of "the Works" from the Dollar General store (also available at the Dollar Tree) and thought what the heck, let me give it a try. This stuff really does works with a little effort; I actually used "the works tile and tub cleaner" rather than "the Works toilet bowl cleaner" (I bet they both work). Thank you Mary Beth for your posting, I live in Virginia Beach too, it must be something in the well waterPaul Anderson
- Virginia Beach, Virginia
November 29, 2010
The WORKS from Dollar General did the trick on my vinyl fencing! Spray on and rinse off. Amazing!
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina USA
July 8, 2011
I tried The Works --awesome stuff. I stained the side of my house with my water sprinkler and was trying all kinds of stuff trying to get it off. Thank you, stains wiped right off with The Works from the Dollar Store.Margaret Brunke
- Bellefontaine, Ohio USA
July 20, 2011
Q. I have "rust" stains on the vinyl siding from our sprinkler. I try to keep the sprinkler from hitting it, but it never fails. I was going to try The Works - but wanted to ask if anyone has used it around plants. I'd hate to be killing my garden while I'm cleaning the siding. Thanks for any info you can give me.Margie Conklin
- RAMSEY, Minnesota, USA
August 19, 2011
Thanks for the hint.
It worked great. It cleaned long time stains below my windowsill very quickly. I wore heavy rubber gloves and applied the liquid to a scrubby to rub the stain. The cleaner ate through the scrubby in no time so be careful to use heavy duty rubber gloves NOT hospital type thin gloves. I then hosed the area very carefully to remove all the cleaner. Very happy to recommend this product. Cost $2.99 plus tax here in New York at the dollar store which is well worth it.
- Carmel, New York USA
September 5, 2011
OMG!! I spent hours scubbing my siding with CLR after the sprinkler left rust stains all over it two years ago. I tried "The works" toilet bowl cleaner and a sponge, amazing. Finished the whole area in about 20 minutes with no scrubbing. Just wiped it on and then hosed it off after a few minutes.Amber Barnes
- Big Lake Minnesota USA
December 13, 2011
I have to agree with the earlier posts about "The Works". I too had rust stains on the vinyl siding of my house. I used several cleaners such as Lime-a-way, CLR, and Awesome. To no avail, they all didn't work. I used "The Works" and within a few minutes, I let it sit then I scrubbed and pressure washed off and the rust came off! This stuff is truly amazing!Duane Spruill
- Portsmouth, Virginia
March 25, 2012
A. I had rust stains on my vinyl shed and had previously tried Rust-Aid, which did not work. So glad I kept reading these comments to find "The Works". Wow, what results. I diluted it, wet the vinyl, and wiped it on with a sponge (rubber gloves a must) and rinsed it off. In no time the shed looked like new. It was pretty bad before that. I then went on to the mailbox. I also had a spot on a window that had a film from the sprinkler. Nothing I tried before got it off until "The Works". I splurged and got two! Thanks for a great product!Gail Leskow
- Port St. Lucie, Florida
July 2, 2012
I took the suggestion of previous posters to use The Works toilet cleaner to remove rust from vinyl siding. I purchased the spray for bath and shower cleaning and the toilet cleaner. However they only had the thick version of toilet cleaner. I used the spray first and it was magic. I sprayed it on the siding and the rust just disappeared. Amazing. I also had a spot on the siding under an outside light that was all spotted up from bugs and tree frogs who congregate there at night when the light is on. Again, I sprayed it on, scrubbed a bit with a brush, rinsed and those spots were gone as well. Nice to find something that works that does not cost and arm and a leg.Charlie Fiseher
- Miltona, Minnesota, USA
September 11, 2012
The Works is amazing. My well irrigation system over-sprayed on my neighbor's brand new pool deck. I called our church maintenance dept. because I know they are constantly fighting iron stains. They named some of the other products in this string and said "good luck, they don't really work very well." Got a bottle of The Works toilet cleaner. The sprayer stopped working after a couple of minutes, but this stuff literally dissolves the iron deposit on contact. Zero waiting. Amazing.Paul Harris
- Tampa, Florida USA
November 4, 2012
A. I removed rust from an AC unit running down my siding; I used rust remover from my local drycleaner mixed about two ounces in a spray bottle 20 ounce water, spray directly on rust and rinse with a water hose -- LIKE MAGIC!Mike S
- Greensboro, North Carolina
July 5, 2013
WOW........after reading this blog, I went to the local $ General and purchased the Works.....ABSOLUTELY AMAZED with the results!!!
I purchased two different products one was the Toilet bowl cleaner and another same brand in a green bottle made for vinyl siding. Green bottle first, was not so impressed so I decided to throw a bottle of the toilet bowl cleaner down. By the time I was completed with pouring the cleaner down the rust was GONE! I mean gone, SPARKLING CLEAN! This was not a little rust stain either, years of accumulation of a rust run-off from my AC unit.
DEFINITELY A MUST USE!, I went back to the store and bought a case to keep in the garage!
- North East Maryland
March 26, 2014
After reading the responses I bought a bottle of 'The Works' in the green bottle. I brushed it on full strength and waited about a minute before rinsing off and nothing happened!
The stain is from the AC unit, if that makes a difference. I'll try the spray next time. Don't waste your money ($1.30) on this one.
- Simpsonville, South Carolina USA
March 29, 2014
To be fair, I didn't give up on 'THE Works" products. The green bottle did not remove the rust stain from the AC drain, but the toilet bowl cleaner by 'The Works' did do the trick!
Applied it with a brush and waited a couple minutes before rinsing. Gone!
- Simpsonville, South Carolina USA
July 17, 2014
Q. Does "The Works" harm plants if you wash it off the siding?Barb Clark
- Fremont, Michigan
October 16, 2014
Tried the works and lime-a-way on my siding. Did not remove one speck of rust. Don't know about all these raves about these products -- sounded too good to be true!bob kane
- parsippany New Jersey
June 2, 2016
I was doubtful when I bought the works based on the recommendations here. I had a white vinyl fence with red stains from the well water irrigation system. I had tried power washing and lime away. Would not go away. I applied The Works bathroom cleaner that I bought for $1.50 at Dollar General. NO bull, the stuff melted off immediately. I mean, I did not have time to scrub it. I just was gone. Unbelievable stuff!!John Peterson
- Vero Beach, Florida USA
August 13, 2016
I had a pro replace the chimney cap on our home, did a great job! He said he could get the rust stains off the vinyl from the old cap, but his solution didn't work. Gave us a $250 price to replace the stained vinyl, which was reasonable ... but I read the reviews for The Works -- guess what it works!
This stain was 20 yrs in the making; with some elbow grease, a steel wool pad for the grooves in the vinyl, and a Mr. Clean magic eraser, the stain came off the chimney vinyl. $250 saved with a $1 bottle. Note, this wasn't the toilet bowl cleaner, it was a bottle of The Works rust/lime cleaner in a spray bottle. Best dollar ever spent!karin trevitt
- yorktown Virginia
October 11, 2016
A. Just tried The Works toilet bowl cleaner on a horrible rust stain years in the making on our vinyl siding from the run off of an AC unit. WORKED AMAZING!! Within minutes the stain was gone and the vinyl siding looking brand new. I put on heavy duty gloves and just poured it on, some very light scrubbing and GONE! Thank you so much.Robin Hopkins
- Coventry Rhode Island USA
May 5, 2017
Agree with John Peterson... 'The Works' ... Works. Just tried it on my vinyl siding rust stains an hour ago and it got about 97% of it.Steve Roman
- Circle Pines Minnesota
August 10, 2017
A. I too had rust stain on vinyl siding and the all over the electric meter from the ac unit run off. I used The Works toilet bowl cleaner in a sprayer, I was impatient did not see any results, sprayed on a bottle of lime away and removed the glass on the meter the rust started coming off, sprayed again let it stand for 5- 10 minutes the stain was gone.
- Richmond, Virginia, USA
Hi. As the editor, I've worked this page for 13 years without comment. Finally, our tenants ran the sprinkler system on a few very windy days, and rust stains started accumulating on the white siding because the sprinkler system uses a very shallow well with recirculated tan, iron-rich, water. So yes, that side of the house largely turned the color of coffee ice cream.
We used scrub brushes with both vinegar and The Works. Vinegar was slower and less effective than The Works, but both worked to some degree. What we did find though, was that the degree of success depends a good deal on what it is that discolored. The white siding came clean quite a bit better than the white plastic surrounds around the windows and the other trim. The idea of cleaning the rust colored staining does work in substantially reducing the staining, but certainly not 100%.
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"
October 6, 2017
We have a condo at the beach in Brigantine NJ. It sits right next to the back bay and about 1.5 blocks from the Atlantic Ocean
Our steel/concrete steps were poorly maintained, and with continuous contact with high ocean salt environments, rust type stains have built up on the vinyl siding for decades.
I'm a trained chemist and took on the task of finding a suitable stain remover which did not negatively impact the vinyl siding. Tried all the common products from the hardware store, with unacceptable results.
Came across The Works a couple years back. Have had good success with this product, but found out that it takes some time for the reaction to dissolve the iron complexes for ease of removal(up to 30 minutes), plus sometimes a double or triple application for really stubborn stains.
Hope this helps
McDonough Technologies LLC - Collegeville, Pennsylvania, USA
December 19, 2017
Q. Two vinyl rust removers discussed on this site are: The Works and RustAid.
The Works is 9.5% hydrochloric acid
and 0.5% hydrofluoric acid.
[ed. note: We don't see hydrofluoric acid mentioned in that material safety data sheet]
RustAid is <10% oxalic acid and <0.5% hydrofluoric acid
Both seem to easily take rust stains off vinyl fences and siding, according to comments on this site and my personal experience with RustAid.
I have diluted Rust Aid with water in a 1:8 mix, and it still works well. (That makes it only 1.25% acid.)
Even so I worry about long term use damaging the vinyl surface. I called WM Barr, maker of RustAid, and could not get an answer about long term effects.
- Lake Mary, Florida USA
A. Hi John. Vinyl is very acid resistant. Vinyl lined vats are extensively used in plating shops for a wide variety of acids. However, I learned from personal experience that sometimes the vinyl siding is painted, and the paint does not hold up well at all to acid-laden scrub brushes :-)
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"
December 21, 2017
Glad you noticed my slip-up. The hydrofluoric acid is indeed only shown in the RustAid material safety data sheet.
And thanks for the practical info on vinyl holding up in plating shops. I forgot to mention that my concern is for my brand new, beautiful vinyl fence. Would sure hate to see that finish degrade! It does seem that diluting Rust Aid 1:8 in water, <1.25% oxalic acid, should not be a problem. Heck, I could probably go to greater dilution, but I haven't tried it.
- Lake Mary, Florida USA
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