How to Clean Salt Stains from Car Carpeting


Bill asked: How do I remove road salt from automobile carpet?

While most of us remember to remove the salts and sand kicked up on wintery roads from the exterior of our cars, removing them from the interior can be a challenge. Road salt has a different composition than table salt and dissolves in cooler water. Keeping this in mind, we will utilize cool water and quick absorption to dissolve and remove the salts.

You Will Need:

  • Vacuum
  • Carpet shampoo
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Soft cloths or sponges
  • Bucket

Steps to Remove the Salt Stains:

  1. Begin by vacuuming away as much of the salt residue as possible.
  2. Mix a small amount of carpet shampoo with warm to cool water in the bucket.
  3. Apply the mixture to the carpeting using a soft cloth or sponge.
  4. Allow the mixture to set on the salt for a little while so that it can dissolve the salts.
  5. Next, blot the area with a clean cloth to remove (or use a shop-vac if you have one handy).
  6. Rinse with clean, cool water. And blot immediately to remove.
  7. Repeat the rinsing process until all of the shampoo is removed. It will take several rinses to thoroughly rinse the carpeting.
  8. If the salts remain, but were partially removed, repeat the above process.
  9. If the salts remain and were not removed at all by the above process, combine one part water with one part vinegar in the bucket.
  10. Apply the mixture to the area and allow it to set for at least 15 minutes.
  11. Rinse with clean water using the blotting method explained previously.
  12. Once all the excess water has been blotted away, allow the carpeting to dry completely.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • Rubber floor mats are available for a reasonable price at any automotive or department store. These can be placed over the existing carpet to offer an additional level of protection. Though some salts may still get on the carpet around the edges, it will be significantly less than areas not protected at all.
  • This process can be sped up tremendously by utilizing a carpet deep cleaner. Most come with attachments that work well for cleaning smaller areas such as cars, rugs, etc.

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