One minute, it’s melting ice on the sidewalk; the next, it’s staining your carpet white. Customers can’t help but track ice melting products like rock salt into your business. One, even two welcome mats may not save you from needing a carpet cleaning, but knowing how to remove the stains could. Here’s a carpet cleaner’s take on how to deal with those stains yourself.
Why Does Salt Stain Carpets?
Consider rock salt. It’s the clear or white substance that melts ice and snow and feels crunchy underfoot. This product is made of sodium chloride and calcium carbonate, meaning that it’s highly basic, or alkaline — the strongest rock salts available can have a pH of 11, while laundry bleach has a pH of 12. Its alkaline nature lets it melt away at things, and as a salt, it’s naturally absorbent; as a result, it picks up all sorts of dirt off the street. Wet salt can easily stick to shoes, and when it gets tracked onto a carpet, its basic nature causes it to bond. The resulting white stain is made of bonded rock salt.
Most commercial carpet cleaning products are alkaline as well; applying them will bond the rock salt to the carpet even more.
How Do I Remove the Stain?
Rule of thumb: when your problem is a base, apply an acid, and vice versa. Vinegar-based cleaning products have a pH of 2.4. Wet the stained area with some and dry it a towel afterwards. Power steamers can sometimes break down the salt. Follow this treatment with a towel, as well; try not to let the carpet re-absorb any liquid, if possible.
Rock salt stains set in deeper over time. If they sit for too long, you may need to seek professional carpet cleaning.