Winter is coming and you can almost see your company’s office carpets cringe. The overabundance of rock salt, sand, and other related ice-melt products are out in force for many months, especially in northern tier states. In no time at all your formerly clean, stately, carpets welcoming customers are covered in unsightly salt stains and other slush-based detritus. You try your best to clean up the mess but your efforts only seem to make the damage worse and sometimes results in permanent damage. What’s a frustrated business owner to do?

Why does salt stain carpet?

Do you remember mixing up mysterious solutions in beakers in ninth grade science class? One of those concoctions might have included rock salt, the main ingredient used to melt snow and ice. Rock salt is made largely of sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, and calcium carbonate; all of which are acidic and contain highly alkaline pH levels from around 7-11.

Okay, so what does that mean? Snow and ice melted via salt turns into a melted puddle fringed with the common white reside we see all winter on roads and sidewalks—and office carpets! Many people’s first reaction is to break out a cart full of commercial cleaning products and scrub away, but this is a bad idea. You see, nearly all commercial grade cleaning products contain high pH levels, just like the rock salt on the road outside, so instead of actually cleaning the salt-stained carpet, you end up adding more alkalinity. Existing salt in the carpet loves this and combines with the cleaning products to tighten its grip on carpet fibers, leaving you with an eternal salt stain.

How to clean salt stains on carpet

Put away the usual commercial cleaners; they don’t work. The best strategy is to clean the area with a high-powered steamer to effectively remove ice melt or salt residue. If you must use a cleaner, be sure it is one of low pH. (Vinegar solutions work great.) It is also wise to partner with a reputable professional carpet cleaner with specialized equipment to do the job right.

An ounce of prevention

The most reliable way to avoid salt stains on your carpet is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Proactive prevention goes a long way in keeping your office entryway and reception area stain-free.

Frequent clearing of snow from walkways and driveways significantly minimizes the amount of salt-based gunk that gets tracked into your building. This also reduces the need to dump gallons of chemical-based salt all over the ground, which washes directly into nearby rivers.

Keep the vacuum cleaner handy and use it often. The sooner you clean salt and dirt from carpets, the easier it is to keep it that way. A salt-based left to its own devices spells doom for carpet. To help in this cause, offer a separate area for clients and employees can remove snow boots, along with a place to store them.

For more information on managing your commercial carpets, contact The Resh Company at (410) 780-9800 or

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