The charm of a pristine snowfall quickly fades with the chores of shoveling and spreading ice melt granules. Those rough little pebbles come into your house on the bottom of your boots and wreak havoc on your carpets. When the crusty white residue ruins the look of your floors, try these three tips for removing ice melt and salt stains from carpet.
Remove as much of the salt, dirt, gravel, and other residue as you can with a vacuum. Ice melt products are made of sharp crystals that can damage carpet fibers if they’re ground in, so turn off the beater bar or brush roll and just use the suction of the vacuum to clear away loose debris. You can also use a broom. If the carpet is wet, use a wet vac to remove residue and moisture.
Apply Floor Neutralizer
Ice melt salt is highly alkaline. A floor neutralizer product will break down the salt and other mineral residues on the carpet fibers. Floor neutralizers need to dwell on the carpet for a while to work properly; the typical time frame is around 10 minutes.
Make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions thoroughly for the correct dwell time and to learn about any restrictions regarding what types of carpet fibers are compatible with the product. Once the dwell time is up, gently work the product into the carpet with a brush to loosen the residue.
Some cleaners recommend using a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water rather than a commercial neutralizer on salt stains. While this should work, it will leave the strong smell of vinegar behind. You’ll need to open the windows for ventilation.
An important tip for removing ice melt and salt stains from carpet is to avoid rubbing the stain in. Instead of scrubbing, which will damage carpet fibers, use a clean towel to gently blot the stains. It’s important to try to soak up as much liquid as possible; if the carpet stays wet, it can wick deeply embedded soils to the surface, causing the stains to recur. If the stained area is large, you might need to rent or purchase a carpet extractor to get the moisture out.
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