Quartz countertops are popular in kitchens and bathrooms because of their durability, stain resistance, and stylish appearance. However, acidic substances like lemon juice, vinegar, and harsh cleaners can damage the surface and lead to etching and discoloration over time. Rust stains are particularly stubborn, but not impossible to remove from quartz with the right techniques and supplies. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to get rust stains out of quartz countertops.
Why Rust Stains Form on Quartz
Before jumping into stain removal methods, it helps to understand what causes rust on quartz in the first place. Here are some common reasons:
Metal Cookware or Appliances
Pots, pans, or small appliances with exposed metal bases can transfer rust onto the surface upon contact, especially if left wet. The iron oxide rubs off and seeps into the pores of quartz.
Iron or Steel Sinks
Using an iron or galvanized steel sink with quartz countertops can also lead to rust stains over time as water causes the metal to oxidize. The rust can then drip onto the adjacent counter.
Water Quality Issues
A high iron content in water supplies can cause orange staining on quartz. Rust particles in the water deposit on the surface when left to dry.
If quartz is installed outside, environmental factors like moisture and pollution can accelerate rusting on metal fixtures, which then transfer to the counter.
Removing Light Rust Stains from Quartz
For light surface stains that have not had time to set in, try these simple cleaning methods first:
Clean with Soap and Water
Use a soft cloth or sponge to gently scrub the stain with warm, soapy water. Avoid abrasive scouring pads. The soap helps lift the rust so it can be rinsed away.
Baking Soda and Water Paste
Make a paste with 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water. Spread onto the stain and let sit for 5 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing clean. Baking soda is mildly abrasive to lift rust without damaging the quartz.
Apply undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to the stain. Allow to sit for 2-3 minutes so the peroxide can bubble away the rust, then wipe clean.
Squirt fresh lemon juice onto the stained area and let sit for several minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. The acidity in the juice helps dissolve rust deposits.
Similarly, undiluted white vinegar can be applied to light rust stains. Let sit briefly, then scrub and rinse away. Use vinegar sparingly to avoid etching the quartz over time.
Removing Stubborn Rust Stains from Quartz
If gentle cleaning solutions do not remove the rust stains, try these methods:
Bar Keeper’s Friend
This powder cleanser contains oxalic acid and abrasives that can cut through stubborn stains. Make a paste, apply to the rust, let sit 5-10 minutes, then scrub and rinse. Avoid using too frequently to prevent damage to the quartz.
Rust Remover Gels and Liquids
Look for commercial rust removers made specifically for stone and quartz. Apply as directed, wait the recommended time, scrub with a soft brush or pad, and rinse thoroughly. Do not allow gels or liquids to sit too long as they can damage the surface.
Bleach Gel Pen
Use a gel bleach pen designed for cleaning quartz to draw onto the stained area. Let it sit briefly, then scrub and rinse. The thickened gel clings to vertical surfaces better than liquid bleach.
Make a paste with 1 part powdered bleach and 2 parts baking soda. Apply to the stain, allow to sit 5-10 minutes, scrub, and rinse well. Do not mix bleach with vinegar or other acids.
Automotive Rust Removers
Some quartz owners report success using automotive rust removers designed for cars. Look for gels or sprays that are safe for clear coat finishes and test in an inconspicuous spot first before using.
Tips for Preventing Rust Stains on Quartz
Once you remove the current stains, keep them from coming back by taking these preventative measures:
- Seal quartz countertops annually with a specialty stone sealer.
- Immediately wipe up spills, especially near sinks.
- Use coasters under bottles, pots and appliances.
- Clean with a quartz-safe cleaner, not acidic products.
- Avoid leaving metal objects on the surface.
- Use a trivet or hot pad under hot pans and dishes.
- Re-seal quartz after intensive cleaning treatments.
- Install an iron filter if dealing with rusty water.
- Keep outdoor quartz covered when not in use.
Can You Remove Rust Stains from Quartz Yourself?
In most cases, rust stains can be removed from quartz DIY using the techniques described above. However, severe stains may require calling in a professional stone restoration company. They have access to more powerful cleaning solutions that can treat ingrained rust without harming quartz.
Professionals also have specialized tools like oscillating floor scrubbers that reach deep stains, along with experience knowing the correct products and procedures for your specific type of quartz and stain.
For expensive quartz surfaces or installed countertops you wish to preserve, professional cleaning may be worthwhile for severe rust discoloration. But the majority of surface rust stains can be managed with routine care and cleaning.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to remove rust from quartz?
Most methods require letting the cleaning solution sit for 5-10 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing away the stain. Light stains may come out more quickly while severe rust could take repeated treatments over days.
What is the fastest way to remove rust from quartz?
Commercial rust removers designed for stone work fastest, but can damage quartz if left too long. For a rapid home remedy, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide lift rust after just a few minutes.
Does CLR remove rust from quartz?
No, do not use CLR or other acids like toilet bowl cleaners on quartz as they can etch or discolor the material. Use rust removal products specifically formulated to be quartz-safe.
What removes old, set-in rust stains?
For older rust stains, a bleach paste, Bar Keeper’s Friend, or professional-grade rust removers are often needed. The stain may take multiple applications over days to fully lift out of the quartz.
Does rust stain quartz permanently?
Not necessarily. Even long-term rust can often be removed with a thorough deep cleaning. But the longer the rust sits, the deeper it can penetrate and potentially cause permanent discoloration in extreme cases if not treated promptly.
Rust stains on quartz countertops can be frustrating, but nearly all of them can be successfully removed with the proper supplies and techniques. For light stains, everyday household products like baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice and vinegar usually do the trick. Stubborn rust may need heavier-duty cleaners containing oxalic or hypochlorous acid.
With some elbow grease and patience, you can get your quartz counters looking bright and polished again. Just be sure to take preventive measures moving forward, like sealing and more cautious use. With proper care, your quartz surfaces will once again be resistant to rust and other undesirables.