How to Get Rust Out of the Hair

by Leigh Wittman ; Updated July 18, 2017

Rust is most commonly found in hair that is cleansed with well water. Well water contains natural minerals, including iron, which can oxidize and leave hair with a reddish rust color. If you are not fond of your rust-colored locks, you can rapidly remove the rust from your hair. The process is safe to repeat whenever the rust reappears.

Combine two parts cream of tartar with one part vinegar in a bowl. The mixture should form a thick paste. The amount of cream of tartar and vinegar you use is dependent upon the thickness and length of your hair. For example, short, thin hair may only require 1/2 cup cream of tartar and 1/4 cup vinegar, whereas long, thick hair may require as much as 2 cups cream of tartar and 1 cup vinegar, according to Dale H. Johnson, author of "Hair and Hair Care."

Allow the cream of tartar and vinegar paste to rest in your hair for at least 15 minutes, which is the minimum amount of time that it takes for these ingredients to break down the molecular structure of the rust so that it can be easily rinsed away, note authors Claude Bouillon and John Wilkinson in "The Science of Hair Care."

Rinse the cream of tartar and vinegar paste from your hair. Once you feel like at least 50 percent of the paste has been rinsed out of your hair, shampoo your hair as you usually do to remove any remaining paste. After shampooing, rinse your hair with cool water, which will constrict the cuticle, helping to protect it from pollution and styling products.


  • Hair and Hair Care; Dale H. Johnson
  • The Science of Hair Care; Claude Bouillon and John Wilkinson
  • Hair Care: An Illustrated Dermatologic Handbook; Zoe Diana Draelos

Photo Credits

  • Sarah Vantassel/Demand Media

About the Author

Leigh Wittman has been writing professionally since 2007. She writes primarily on health, career advice, outdoor pursuits and travel for various websites. Wittman is a licensed nurse and studied nursing at Arizona State University.