(Originally published July 17 2017)

Winter is especially hard on carpets and floors in offices and public places. Snow, slush and salt are repeatedly tracked indoors leaving mats, carpets and floors wet and dirty. Most commercial mats do a poor job of removing the salt soaked snow and slush from footwear. The salt, water, and dirt are then tracked throughout the office soaking carpets, making floors slippery and leaving unsightly white stains as it dries. If your office flooring is still looking grim and grey from the winter, take care of it today before it erodes your floors or carpet. Get our cleaning experts to help you maintain your office's look and feel.

Salt and dirty water need to be removed as quickly as possible. If left unattended, the salt will damage the carpet and floors. Excess water from melted snow soaks into carpets and can lead to mold and mildew growth.

Salt is both chemically and physically damaging

  • Salt residue is not removed by vacuuming alone
  • Salt attaches to carpet fibres and backing
  • Salt is high alkaline (high pH) content and can permanently damage the integrity of a carpet
  • The high pH of the salt can strip floor finish if left untreated
  • Salt crystals on footwear act like sandpaper and damage flooring surface
  • Underlying floor material is now vulnerable to damage and staining from water and foreign matter that soaks in
  • Typically it is recommended that salt stains be treated within one week of detection to avoid unrepairable damage and aging to your office flooring. Though based on specific materials this duration may differ

Getting salt stains out of carpet and floors is an easy but time consuming process and can be done using inexpensive products. Kitchener Clean has the knowhow to remove salt stains and winter grime from all your floors and carpets quickly and easily without using harmful chemicals.

Here are 5 simple steps to remove salt stains from carpet and flooring for the do-it-yourselfer. Or, contact us for all your carpet and floor care needs.

What you need to start


Depending on whether you are cleaning carpet or floors, here are the materials and tools you will need to help you get the job done. General note to those looking to get the salt stains out of their office carpet: if you don't already own a vacuum or wetvac, this may be a costly and dragged out  procedure.

Carpet Cleaning Equipment and Materials

  • Vacuum and/or wetvac        
  • Spray bottle
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Microfiber cloths/towels

Floor Cleaning Equipment and Materials

Here is what you'll need to clean hard floor surface at the office

  • Vacuum
  • Water
  • Vinegar
  • Bucket and mop
  • Microfiber cloths/towels
  • Gentle brush
  • Neutral cleaner

How long will this take

Time required: 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to complete (the longer you waited to clean this the tougher it is to get off)

Guide to cleaning salt stains from Carpets

  1. vacuum thoroughly to remove all loose salt crystals and debris from the carpet
  2. mix a spray bottle of 50% vinegar and 50% water
  3. spray the salt stained carpet area and let it sit for 15 minutes
  4. use a microfiber cloth or towel to blot and remove salt
  5.    * repeat steps 3 and 4 until stain is removed*
  6. use a wetvac to remove all the moisture and vinegar from the carpet

*Important Tips*

Do not use an alternative concentration of vinegar and water solution

Do not let the vinegar solution dry and oxidize

Do thoroughly extract the vinegar solution from the carpet with a wetvac

Vinegar, although not harmful to people, is a mild acid and can stain or damage carpet fibres and floor finishes if not used properly

How to clean salt stains from floors

1 – vacuum thoroughly to remove all loose salt crystals

2 – mix a bucket of 5 litres of water with ½ cup vinegar

3 – use a sponge or mop to apply solution to the salt stained area and let sit 10-15 minutes

4 – use a brush to scrub area if necessary

5 – use a microfiber cloth or towel to remove vinegar solution OR

     mop with a neutral floor cleaner to remove dirt and vinegar solution

Why the process works

Regular salt is soluble in water but road salt contains calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate which are insoluble in water. Additionally, road salt is alkaline (has a high pH) therefore neutral floor cleaners and detergent based carpet cleaners are ineffective when dealing with the salt of winter.

Vinegar is a 5% dilute of an organic acid (acetic acid). Acetic acid is naturally found in plants such as apples, oranges, pineapples and strawberries. The vinegar can break down the road salt and return the pH to neutral so that non-toxic neutral floor cleaners and carpet cleaners are effective and able to remove the dirt and grime.

Why do we use only non-toxic cleaners and solutions?

Because commercial salt removers can be harmful to humans and the environment.

-       They contain a combination of chemicals and solvents

-       May contain nerve damaging neurotoxins such as benzene and toluene

-       May contain carcinogenic formaldehyde