Bathtub Drain Repair: How to Remove Rust

A drain covered in rust stains.
  • 1-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 15-50
What You'll Need
Steel wool or wire brushRagsDistilled white vinegarBaking sodaLemon juiceFinishing waxSpray bottle
What You'll Need
Steel wool or wire brushRagsDistilled white vinegarBaking sodaLemon juiceFinishing waxSpray bottle

Bathtub drain repair is often outsourced to a plumber, but there are some things that you can do yourself and save some money. Prolonged exposure to soap scum, cleaning chemicals, and water can cause rust to appear on the bathtub drain.

This is not only unsightly, but also poses a more serious threat, as the rust can spread into the pipes and other fixtures. This may be one of the simplest bathtub repair projects you can do on your own with minimal time or cost to yourself. Even though this is a simple form of bathtub drain repair, it still requires using proper steps and materials to accomplish the task.

Step 1 - Scrape Away the Loose Rust

Rust appears to be flat on the surface, but if you were to look at it under a microscope you would see two things: rust grows and spreads like a living organism, and it forms a mass that is not unlike a tiny mountain range, in shape and complexity.

The upper layer of rust is the easiest to remove. Use a wire brush or steel wool to rigorously scrape the rust away from the shower drain. Use a fair amount of pressure and you should be able to remove at least half of the rust. Run water over the drain to rinse away the rust scrapings and then wipe the water away with a rag.

Step 2 – All-natural Rust Removal

There are many chemicals on the market to remove rust. They are all effective, but they are also all toxic. These chemicals will not only harm you, but also can also destroy the bathtub’s finish. If you do choose to use a chemical cleaner, do so with the bathroom fan running or the door open. You should also wear protective gloves and glasses, as well as a protective mask or respirator.

Using a solution that is completely all-natural and safe for the environment is actually much easier to apply than toxic chemicals. Fill a spray bottle with 3 parts distilled white vinegar and 1 part lemon juice. Mix it well and spray the bathtub drain with the solution. The vinegar and lemon juice will begin to eat away at the rust, using the natural acidity of both ingredients. To add more fire power to this solution, sprinkle baking soda over the drain. Allow the baking soda to set on the rust for at least an hour. Afterward, use steel wool or a wire brush to begin scrubbing the area again. You will need to use a lot of elbow grease to remove the remaining rust.

Step 3 - Finishing It Up

Rinse the drain with water and inspect it. If there's more rust, then repeat Step 2. You can use this same process for any other stains in your bathtub or sink areas.