Winter is hard on everyone, but it can be particularly caustic to surfaces in your home. Snow and ice often means de-icing solutions on roads, driveways and pathways, and this material – which is mostly salt — is then tracked into your house where it comes into contact with your floor surfaces.
What’s That White Residue?
Everyone who lives in a northern climate is familiar with the crusty white road surface treatment that contains rock salt. (It’s like table salt, but unpurified for human consumption. Here’s a more detailed discussion of what it contains.) It often builds up and stains around entryways, floors and rugs. The problem is that regular cleaning processes won’t remove the rock salt or undo the damage it can cause. Rugs and carpets can be permanently stained by winter salt treatments if they’re not cleaned regularly.
How Can I Clean Salt Off Carpets?
To begin, wait until the site is dry and vacuum the rug or carpet thoroughly to lift any loose rock salt. Use a soft brush to loosen as much salt as possible, and vacuum again. Next, prepare a solution of one cup of vinegar to three gallons of warm water. Lightly apply the solution to a test area of the rug to ensure it won’t cause harm. If it passes the spot test, apply the solution with a spray bottle to the salt stained areas and let it permeate for 10 to 15 minutes. Next, blot the solution from the carpet using a clean dry sponge or towel. Do not scrub.
Use Heavy-Duty Floor Mats to Protect Rugs
Maintaining a household rule that boots and shoes remain near the front door during the winter can prevent stains, as can heavy-duty floor mats designed to knock debris off footwear before it gets tracked into the house. Frequently clean the mats using a wet/dry vacuum. Once the mats are dry, follow with a traditional vacuum.
Call the Professionals
Professional carpet cleaners have proprietary materials and processes that can neutralize salt and clean your stained rugs and carpets. It’s a good idea to have your rugs cleaned every year to extend their useful lives and protect home occupants (including pets) from the caustic substances in road deicer.