How to Remove Salt Stains and Residue from Concrete

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Debbie asked: How do I remove salt residue from my basement concrete floor? When the soft water installers came to install my new machine, they first removed the old one. They spilled large amounts of salt water all over my basement floor. I keep scraping and brushing up dried salt, but I don’t seem to get it all. It has also stained the floor surface. How can I get the salt residue and the stain off of my concrete floor? Thank you for any help you can give me.

Salt residue cannot be removed with water alone. It requires an additional cleaning substance to release it from the surface. There are a variety of commercial products available, but you likely have a perfectly good cleaner right in your own kitchen. Here’s how to remove those salt stains and residue for good.

You Will Need:

  • Dish soap/detergent
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Stiff-bristled broom
  • Wet vac (optional, but recommended) or mop

Steps to Remove the Salt:

  1. Begin by spraying the affected areas with water to get them good and wet.
  2. Fill a bucket with warm water.
  3. Add vinegar and/or dish soap/detergent.
  4. Dip the broom into the water and use it to scrub the surface of the concrete.
  5. Scrub for several minutes until the salt residue and stains start to lift.
  6. Use the wet vac to remove the excess water. If no wet vac is available, you will need to use a mop to remove the excess water.
  7. Cover the area with clean water to rinse.
  8. Scrub again with the broom.
  9. Remove the water with the wet vac.
  10. Allow the area to dry.
  11. If any stains remain, repeat the above steps.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Commercial salt neutralizers/removers include Salt-X and Salt Away. These products are commonly used on marine gear that is exposed to salt water on a regular basis. Check the labels to ensure it is safe to use on your surface, as most are.
  • For more aggressive cleaning, a weak hydrochloric acid and water mixture can be used (1 part acid to 20 parts water). However, the acid can damage some concrete surfaces and should only be used by those who are experienced with using the acid.
  • If the stains are severe and/or the residue is thick, it may take several attempts to remove it completely.

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