A close up of a sink

Help! Rust Stains on My Fiberglass Bathtub

Dear Mary: Our water is very hard and as a result has created rust-colored stains in the fiberglass bathtub. I’ve tried to scrub it away with Comet, but that did nothing. How can I remove these terrible stains? MaryAnne

A brown tiled floor next to a tub


Dear MaryAnne: I’m going to assume you have already tried applying a paste of baking soda and white vinegar to the stains, allowing that to sit for a few hours. If that or the Comet didn’t work, I have two options for you, starting with a product you may have already but never dreamed you’d use in a bathtub: Lysol Professional Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Cover the stains with it and allow to sit for an hour or so. You may need to scrub a bit with a Scotch-Brite or similar type scrubber. I am reasonably confident this may take those stains away, that’s how well it works to clean fiberglass, acrylic and porcelain tubs.

However, if your stains are really stubborn—or you would need to go out and purchase the Lysol toilet cleaner—I’d skip that and go straight for the big gun in rust-removers, Iron Out. I love this product because unlike other commercial rust removers, it contains no harsh or abrasive chemicals. And boy does it work well to remove rust stains from just about anything, including fabric.

Good luck and be sure to let us know how this works for you.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon, at no cost to you.

Dear Mary: I was wondering if you have another option to clean front loading machines rather than the smelly Tide Washing Machine Cleaner? When my husband uses that, our whole house smells like chemicals for a week. Do you have a homemade recipe that would work to clean the drum? Robyn

Dear Robyn: Before I give you my best response, promise me you will weigh it against the owner’s manual that came with your washer. I don’t want you to do anything that might invalidate your warranty.

I have a fairly new GE Front Loader. It has a setting “Basket Clean,” which the manual instructs me to use monthly. The instructions tell me that once a month I need to to pour a half gallon of liquid chlorine bleach into the drum, close the door and run it through that “Basket Clean” cycle without any clothes. Do you see where I am going here? I believe the answer is bleach. I’m not saying that bleach isn’t smelly, but it dissipates quickly through that cleaning cycle.

The reason front loaders need to be cleaned is to kill any bacteria or mold that may be growing in the really tight gaskets and seals that are unique to a front loading washer. Bleach is a powerful foe against mold and bacteria!

Dear Mary:  I believe you have written in a previous column about buying prepaid mobile phone service at a highly discounted rate of about $150 to $200 per year. As I recall, there is no contract required. I thought I’d saved that column, but now I can’t find it. Can you repeat this cell phone opportunity? Thank you. Eugenie

Dear Eugenie: I’m pretty sure you must be referring to TracFone and a tip you read that came from one of your fellow EC readers, Julie. She wrote:

“I have been using TracFone for more than 13 years without any kind of contract, bills or credit checks. I highly recommend this company. I bought a $49.99 smart phone from TracFone.com that takes pictures, videos, calls and text. 

“I always purchase the 365-day plan for $99 (works out to be $8.25 per month) prepaid. And when I get to the checkout they sweeten the deal by asking if I’d like to purchase an additional year (2 years total) for an extra $50. What a deal ($99 + $50 = $149). That’s only $6.21 per month for 24 months. 

“It’s very simple to use and I will probably be with TracFone for the rest of my life. You can purchase directly online (which is what I do) or at stores like Sears and Kmart.”

In the future, when you want to search something from a previous column, you can go to EverydayCheapskate.com and type a keyword into the search box at the upper right of that page. It takes a few moments for the search engine to work through the sizable archive, so be patient. I think you’ll be quite happy with the results.

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10 replies
  1. Annie says:

    I’ve had front loaders for over 40 years and no problems with odor or mold. Keep a old hand towel with your washer. When you are done washing for the day, dry the boot (rubber seal) thoroughly. Not just the little puddle you see but in the crevices. Fold the towel and tuck it in the door so the door stays open an inch or so. A bar mop works fine too. Even top loaders smell bad if you close the lid on a wet drum and leave it for a week.

  2. Betty Fratangelo Doyle says:

    My mom used to work in a 5 and dime and they sold a product called Whink. It takes rust out of everything and is quite cheap. If you can’t find it in a store, it can be found online. Just search for ir and use your favorite etailer.

  3. Sharon Deters says:

    High school chemistry 101 Vinegar and baking soda combined make water with a small amount of salts. Second, I have tried to use your search option several times and it will let me type in the box but won’t search.

  4. Jeri Warren Manship says:

    I used Tracfone for years and was very pleased with the service. However, about a year ago I noticed I could no longer get service from my home, then no service in my husband’s workplace and no service in our favorite weekend getaway. The people at Tracfone told me that they had recently changed service providers, “Sorry”. So now we are with Verizon, it runs about $50 a month. Not as cheap as Tracfone, but we do have very good service and no contract.

  5. Richard Bauman says:

    We’ve used Tracfone since 2001. We’ve gone through several iterations of phones and had no problem with the phones or service. Since I’m not on the phone constantly, a year’s service ($99) with 400 minutes is plenty. Costs less than $10/month. Good quality of service, too.

  6. Danna M.Murden says:

    Bar Keepers Friend for rust stains!! I was using a rust stain remover once and getting no where out of desperation I got out my Bar Keepers Friend and could not believe my eyes. It was like one of those fast talking commercials on TV. I use Bar Keepers Friend for all kinds of things.

  7. Cindy says:

    In response to the rust stained tub, she might try a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, those things are truly “magic”. I’ve used on many unconventional stains with great success! Good luck!

  8. LK says:

    Hi, you recently recommended a cleaning product for melamine cabinets and formica. I have searched high and low using your search engine and cannot come up with that information. Can you tell me the name of the product please? I think you said it was available at home depot or lowes. Thank you.


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