How Can You Get Road Salt Stains Off Carpet?

It can be a lifesaver on snow-covered streets and slippery sidewalks, but when tracked inside your car or home, road salt transforms into a carpet assassin. The de-icing compound routinely clings to shoes and embeds itself in carpet fibers. Next thing you know you're looking at an indoor landscape of unsightly crusty white stains marring your fluffy flooring. Welcome to winter. Fortunately, saying hello to the cold weather season doesn't mean saying goodbye to clean carpets. You can easily and affordably get road salt stains off carpet with the help of pantry staples — like vinegar and baking soda — provided you don't procrastinate.

Road salt — also known as rock salt, ice salt, and sidewalk salt — is predominantly made of sodium and chloride. However, since the substance isn't purified, it also contains contaminants, such as lead, aluminum, and iron — all of which have the potential to cause serious damage to your carpet if left untreated. Chemicals in the grayish-brown granules extract moisture from the air.

This process increases the amount of time it takes carpets to dry, making them a damp magnet for grime. What's more, road salt contains calcium chloride, which features a greasy coating that can also attract dirt. Over time, the buildup of chemicals, moisture, and filth can cause carpet materials to deteriorate. To prevent permanent road salt stains and irreparable damage to carpet fibers, it's critical to eliminate salt residue as soon as possible.

Treat carpets with distilled vinegar or baking soda

The first step in removing road salt carpet stains is to get rid of any visible particles. For carpeting in your home, thoroughly vacuum any affected areas. Do the same for carpet floor mats in your vehicle or simply sweep them with a nylon brush or vigorously shake them off in your driveway. Next, prepare a solution containing equal parts hot water and distilled white vinegar. Place the mixture into a spray bottle, shake well, and spritz on the stains. Allow the eco-friendly stain remover to sit for at least five minutes before blotting the area with a clean cloth. If the stain persists, reapply the vinegar cleaner and use a hard bristle toothbrush to scrub the area, then wait for the carpet to dry completely before vacuuming up any residual debris.

Fresh road salt stains are easier to eliminate than ones that have set in over time. Luckily, you can still salvage your soft flooring by deep cleaning it with baking soda. Start by vacuuming up any dried salt and dirt that has adhered to your carpet. Then, in a bowl, mix together 1 part baking soda and 3 parts water. It should be the consistency of a very loose paste. Next, apply the cleaner directly to the stains and rub in with a scrub brush. Give the solution a few hours to work its magic on the carpet before vacuuming up leftover residue. If your carpet feels a bit stiff post-cleaning, consider a quick steam clean to restore plushness.