How To Clean Road Salt From Your Floors
Getting and keeping your home clean at any point in the year is a continuous undertaking, but it seems even more difficult to do in the winter months. As soon as the first flakes of snow fall, the necessary evil that is road salt is put on our roads and sidewalks. Necessary, in that it makes driving and walking in treacherous winter conditions safer and easier. Evil, in that it can be an absolute nightmare to clean up inside your home and can cause a lot of problems.
When salt is tracked in, it can cause a lot of lasting damage to floors. The first way to eliminate the possibility of damage is to not let it in in the first place. Purchasing a mat to keep outside your door or in your mudroom is an easy solution. Simply plop your boots or shoes on the mat and leave the salt with them. Periodically you’ll have to shake off or rinse the mat to prevent any build up and risk of tracking.
If it does find its way inside, don’t worry, there are easy and simple solutions for all types of floors. For tiled or laminate, sweep up any visible salt. Then mix up one cup white vinegar to one gallon of warm water. Mop your floor thoroughly, rinsing and repeating as needed. Do this until all visible residue is removed. Rinse out the bucket and fill with your normal floor cleaner and water and mop as usual then allow to air-dry.
Unfortunately, vinegar can damage, discolor and soften hardwood floors. Instead, use a neutralizing floor cleaner that is safe for hardwoods. All ice melts are alkaline, which means their pH levels are higher and are less acidic. Neutralizing cleaners have a PH that is lower, meaning their high acidity will break down the chemicals used in the salt and allow you to clean it while keeping your hardwoods safe. Most of these cleaners are safe to use around children and pets, but it’s recommended to do a once over with my normal floor cleaner after the neutralizer mixture has dried, just to make sure that any stray chemical reside is gone and your floors look and feel the way you like them to.
For salt residue on carpeted floors (in your home and in your car!) vacuum the stained area to remove any dry, loose pieces of salt. Then spray with a one-part vinegar to two parts warm water mixture. Dampen but don’t soak the area. Allow the solution to work for at least five minutes then blot the area with a paper towel. Allow the area to air dry, then vacuum to lift the fibers. If any stains remain, mix a solution of two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid (hand dishwashing liquid, not the stuff for a dishwasher) and two cups water. Dip a sponge or soft-bristled brush in the solution and work the solution in to the stain. Then, blot with a paper towel to transfer the stain out of the carpet. Repeat as necessary until the stain is completely gone.
After the winter months have passed and the warmer breezes of spring begin to blow again, you may think that your floors are finally safe. Unfortunately, in most areas, this isn’t the case. A lot of typical ice melts used tend to stick around even once most of the snow has melted, both physically and in their chemical forms, making your floors just as at risk as they were during the height of winter. You may not have to do a full scrub-down, but it’s recommended to follow either of the previous practices come spring to make sure that any remaining mess is taken care of.
Periodically throughout winter (or just in spring), it’s a good idea to clean the residue from your shoes and boots that they’ve have picked up over the season. For suede shoes, use one-part vinegar to two parts cold water and softly rub and dab away the stains. For really ground in residue, use a soft bristled brush to lightly scrub with the mixture before blotting away. For most sneakers and leather shoes, using the same solution and method with a cloth or cotton ball will do the trick. A handy thing to do in the beginning of winter is to purchase a water-proofing shoe spray, hopefully prevent any stains from setting in.
Winter can be a beautiful but brutal season, hopefully these tips will ease some of your winter blues and help keep your house clean and fresh all year round!