Living in a cold country, or any place with abundant snow, teaches you that salt (Calcium Chloride) is a lifesaver when it comes to outdoor ice. However, the only time you should find salt on the ground is if it is outside your home.
Inside, salt can cause severe damage to your hardwood finish and potentially stain your carpet and rugs.
Throughout this article we will look at some of the most effective ways of cleaning salt off your floors before it causes damage.
1. Keeping Shoes Off The Floors
Prevention works best, and I can tell you from personal experience that having a shoe rack is not good enough. As the snow melts, the salt-water will drip down and potentially damage whatever is underneath. Even if you keep them on tiles, try investing in a cheap but thick mat that you and your guests can keep your shoes on.
2. Cleaning Salt From Hardwood
A non-concentrated mixture of 1/3 cup of Vinegar per Gallon of water (62 Milliliters per Liter of water) will have enough vinegar to neutralize the salt while still being gentle enough to use on hardwood floors. The most important thing is to make sure you don’t let the salt scratch your finish. Soak a gentle cloth or mop in the vinegar-water and gently wipe away any stains. Make sure you dry it up quickly afterwards, and if necessary repeat the process until your floors are once again clean.
3. Cleaning Salt From Carpet
Cleaning salt from carpet is slightly different to cleaning it from hardwood. The main difference is that you will need to remove as much of it as you can while it is still dry (vacuuming will work well). Then, use the same mixture of 1/3 cup of vinegar per gallon of water and let it soak into the carpet for 15 minutes. Finally you will want to dry the carpet by dabbing towels or sponges. To be extra-safe, you can repeat the process using only water with no vinegar to ensure that none of the residue remains behind.
4. Cleaning Salt From Tiles
Salt residue typically does not damage tiles because most tiles are specifically designed to withstand such damage. Salt, if left alone long enough, can strip away your laminate coating, leave white streaks, and allow for further drastic damage to your tiles. Using the same mixture from above (1/3 cup of vinegar per gallon of water), we simply need to let it neutralize the salt and then mop up what remains.
5. Buying Specialty Salt Remover
If you find that vinegar is not enough (either due to the length of time or volume of salt), find an Acidic-Ph Neutralizer. These are specially designed to neutralize the effects of salt, turning it into water. They work much more effectively than a vinegar/water composition. Just read all the labels and instructions before using because if you aren’t careful the acid inside the Neutralizer can also cause damage.
6. Things to be Careful of
Be aware that the salt crystals can cause damage to your floors if you don’t neutralize or pick them up first. Try to avoid sweeping, or any other activity which may grind them down into the floors. If you find that even after you’ve cleaned them your floor is permanently damaged (often when it is left too long), you may need to refinish your flooring.
Although it can be a serious problem, if dealt with immediately, you won’t find the clean-up process to be too difficult. A simple bit of careful cleaning, mixed with careful home chemistry, will help you and your floors get through even the worst winters.
The most important thing to remember is that anything acidic, vinegar being the most common and widely used, will be able to turn the salt into water. Just please, for both our sake, dilute the vinegar with water first!