Stain Control for the Rust In Michigan Irrigation Systems

Rust is a common element in water that is flowing through Michigan irrigation systems.  One way that homeowners can ensure that this rust doesn’t cause staining to outdoor furniture, landscaping, or siding is to install a water treatment system that offers irrigation stain control.  Reynolds Water Conditioning Company offers a system that is designed specifically for this purpose.  In these systems a concentration of a bio-degradable solution is injected into the irrigation stream as it enters the irrigation system.

Irrigation stain control water treatment systems help to prevent the formation of rust and red water staining outdoors.  The solution that is injected into the water is safe in preventing stains without harmful acids and chlorides.  Not only does the solution prevent staining it protects against corrosion, pitting, and plant life damage. 

Now that we know how we go about preventing future staining it is important that we remove the rust stains that have already formed.  Landscape rocks are one of the most versatile materials that can be used when creating a natural space.  When rocks are exposed to the elements a natural unattractive red staining can occur.  It can come from the rust in the irrigation water and from a chemical reaction between irrigation water and iron that can be present on landscape rocks.  Most stains can be removed by using an oxalic acid bath or a combination of powdered clay and liquid rust remover.  There are also a number of over the counter products that remove rust all of which can be found at local hardware stores

Cleaning Small Landscaping Rocks

To safely clean your landscaping rocks first removal the built-up dirt and debris. Place larger rocks in a bucket.  Put on some rubber gloves and safety goggles combining one gallon of distilled water with one pound of oxalic acid crystals.  Mix carefully with a wooden spoon until crystals are dissolved.  Pour the solution slowly over the landscaping rocks to avoid splashing.  Use enough solution to cover the rocks.  Let this sit until rust no longer remains.  Add baking soda slowly to the oxalic mixture to neutralize it.  This will cause the mixture to bubble and foam up.  Once this process stops you can remove the rocks from the bucket with rubber gloves.  This mixture can be disposed of down the drain.  Rinse the landscape rocks with a garden hose. 

Cleaning Large Landscaping Rocks

Rinse landscape rocks with a garden hose.  Put on rubber gloves and mix rust remover with powdered clay to make a thick paste.  Apply a thick layer to the stains with a spatula.  Allow the paste to sit for 24 to 48 hours.  Cover with plastic wrap or a large tarp to allow the paste to dry completely.  Once the mixture is dry you can scrape it off with a plastic knife.  The rocks should then be washed off with a garden hose.  If rusts or stains remain the process can be repeated. 

Tips for Cleaning Rust

  • Test the acid solution/paste on an area of hidden rocks before cleaning the lot.
  • If the paste leaves marks on the rocks use a wet cloth and polishing powder to buff them out.
  • Always wear rubber gloves and eye protection.
  • Work carefully to avoid splashing on your skin.
  • Use caution to prevent breathing in dust from the oxalic acid and removed paste.
  • While cleaning keep pets and children away from the area.

The experts at Reynolds Water Conditioning have a solution to your homes unique water quality needs including: arsenic, bacteria, chlorine, rotten egg smell, fluoride, hard water, iron, lead, acid, tannins, radon, and more.  More information on our water treatment solutions including water softeners and conditionerswater filtration and purificationreverse osmosis drinking water, and iron & odor removal can be found online at

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