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Thread: Help with rust stains from well water?

  1. #1

    Help with rust stains from well water?

    There's one thing that I really don't like about our new house - well water. We were on city water before and we're not even that far out, but well water it is. It doesn't taste good and it turns things grey and or a lovely shade of yellow/orange. We do have a softener system that is supposed to be very good and it's only 4 years old, but it doesn't appear to be operating correctly. We have a company representative coming out to take a look at it on Monday.

    Hopefully that will solve most of our staining problems, but I anticipate that rust stains will still be a problem. Can anyone recommend a good rust cleaner?

    My friend recommended Whink - I used it today and it worked like a charm. However, it has hydrofluoric acid and my DH has me scared to use it again. Is there anything out there that works really well without fear of chemical burns???? CLR didn't seem to work too well. The Whink is alluring because it gets rid of it on contact. But it's contact with my skin that scares me!

    I am seeing quite a few less-toxic looking cleaners online, but I am wondering which one might work the best.

    Thanks for your help. That stuff I used may have been toxic, but I'm still happy that my toilet no long has orange stripes. A child that was visiting was afraid to use it!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Hollywood, California
    I had a really cruddy toilet because I was so busy at work that I didn't get a repair person for an embarrassingly long period of time and then there were what I guess were rust stains. It was an extra toilet anyway.

    I used bleach - left it in overnight as I recall and then there was a faint residue which I think I used plain scouring powder (like Ajax) but it might have been Kaboom -- it's been awhile and I was astounded that the stains went away.
    Last edited by blazedog; 12-15-2005 at 06:47 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Western Pennsylvania
    Kaboom seems to the hottest thing on the market for that, though I haven't used it myself
    "If she ain't happy, then you ain't happy"
    Jeff Foxworthy

    Misplaced CA in PA

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    ♥Somewhere between here & there♥
    Kaboom is great. I do not want to sound like a commercial, but it really works. I have ceramic tile in the bathtub areas, and Kaboom is the only thing that cleans the rust color off. It cleans the rust off of the sinks, the toilets, the tubs. Give it to Mikey, he won't eat it, he hates everything. OOPS sorry - I was in commercial mode.
    "If you aren't living on the edge, you're taking up too much space."

  5. #5
    Ah yes, the nasty red stuff. First of all, be very careful with things that work "too good" like Whink. They can take the finish off of porcelain fixtures along with the rust stains. Also, never, ever, mix with bleach or bleach containing products. You can get dangerous fumes produced and you can also "set" stains that will never come out. If your toilet has stains that won't respond to anything else a pumice stone will rub them out but again dull the finish (you get pumice stones at Home Depot and such). Iron Out and other powders like it are very good. You can add them to your wash water if your white clothes are getting red spot or just do it once in awhile to lift that veil of yuck that accumulates when you aren't even aware of it. You will be amazed how white your clothes get. You can also sprinkle the powder in your toilet water periodically, let it set a little while then brush. It does a fantastic job. Finally, I had a water softener man tell me once to sprinkle it over the salt pellets, no real formula just a little here and there, as you put salt in the tank. It helps keep your softener clean without having to buy the pellets with added rust remover (which he claimed has too much of the added stuff anyway). I've lived with this problem for 30+ years. It is a royal pain as you are finding out!
    "When you are in love with someone you want to be near him all the time, except when you are out buying things and charging them to him." Miss Piggy

  6. #6
    We've had well water for years as well as the associated iron problems. Iron out seems to work the best, but still not great.

    I miss city water . . .
    Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Sounds like you have iron in your water and need an iron filter, it's an additional unit that goes along with your softener (it takes out manganese and sulfides as well). We have one and it does a good job. We just have Culligan units right now (one of their Medallist Series Softener's and their Super S Water Filter for the iron) but we are investigating other choices due to a problem with lead in our well water. Once you get an iron filter installed the rust stains will dissapear. For the softener, we like to use potassium chloride tablets rather than sodium chloride tablets - we think they make the water taste better.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    We are on a well and use the iron out salt for it (morton's brand comes in a blue bag). For drinking water we put an R.O. unit on one of the sinks and tied the icemaker into it.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Near Fresno, CA
    You might want to try "Zud". It's sort of like Bon Ami or Barkeepers friend, but removes a lot more different stains and messes. It worked in getting the pencils marks off of our tile that the tile guy left.

    "One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries."

    A.A. Milne

  10. #10
    Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I'll keep my eye out for Kaboom and Iron Out.

    That's a great tip about using Iron Out in the wash - I have been avoiding doing whites as much as possible until they come to fix our unit/teach us how to use it properly (it's a Hague WaterMax).

    I'm also worried that my highlights will be orange soon.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Sykesville, Maryland

    We had the best water (well) for 7 months. Since huge trucks and excavations have been going on this past week next to us (building a house) I noticed the water in our master (big bathtub) sometimes turns murky and leaves a faint stain in the toilet/bathtub. I freaked out and spoke to BIL who said it sounds as this could be with all the movement so near my well and I could get an inline filter. The water in other spikets is fine. Today things got back to normal still I will have the water tested. It tasted great in July. WAs tested 3 times Heath Dept and it was really good. I don't need a softener but I will get a filter.
    When we had city water we did have very orange stains in some bathrooms for years. I used bleach. Now I cannot since we have septic/well.
    Maybe you can check if a inline water filter will solve the problem. My brother in law said it would help with our sudden water issues.

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