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Remove Salt Residue From Floors Fast And Easy

Remove Salt Residue From Floors

Winter Floor Care

Winter weather brings with it additional areas of concern for cleaning professionals. The cold and snow add steps to many cleaning routines and present different challenges to maintaining the cleanliness of facilities. One of the most common is trying to remove salt residue from floors.

A couple of weeks ago, I briefly mentioned removing salt residue from floors when talking about neutralizer cleaners. But I wanted to address it more directly because it is such a problem for so many custodians. Removing salt residue from floors is difficult because the soil on the floor has changed and the cleaning chemicals have not. Most floor cleaning chemicals or neutral cleaners are designed to remove typical dirt and grime. When a substance as different as salt or calcium chloride becomes the main soil overnight, it requires a different approach.

Why Salt Residue Is So Hard To Remove

The makeup of most ice melting products is based around calcium chloride or salt, because of its effective melting properties and because it is relatively cheap. The problem when it comes to floor care is that it has a high pH, just like floor stripper.

To remove salt residue, it has to be neutralized, changing the pH to neutral or 7. Otherwise, it just smears around the floor and becomes a sticky mess. The stickiness can come from two causes.

A) It has such a concentrated amount of residue which is sticky. or

B) It has begun to dissolve the floor finish. Either way, your floors are now attracting dirt and making them very hard to clean.

If let go too long, the finish will have to be stripped and re-coated.

How To Remove Salt Residue

Now that you know the importance of removing the salt residue lets look at how to actually do it.

As stated above, the alkaline salt residue needs to be neutralized. The best way to do this is with an acidic chemical. There are many brands of acidic pH neutralizer cleaning chemicals out there. These are the best choice for ensuring that you have the proper documentation (Material Safety Data Sheets) for use in a commercial or industrial cleaning environment. Check with your supplier and floor finish manufacturer to see what they recommend for use with your specific floor care program.

With that being said, vinegar also has a low pH and can be used very sparingly with plain tap water to remove salt residue from floors. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am not a proponent of making your own cleaning products or “DIY Chemistry” but in this case, adding 4 to 5 oz. of vinegar to 4 gallons of water does work.

When you understand what it takes to remove salt residue from floors, it really is no problem at all. Here is to keeping you sane and your floors clean during the long winter months.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Jhayla January 28, 2015, 1:21 pm

    What if the vinegar doesn’t work? I work at a convenience store and no matter how much I mop the floor still dries white

    • BaldGuyClean January 28, 2015, 1:42 pm

      The heavy concentrated traffic in convenience stores make floor care tough. It it probably due to a heavy buildup of residue. I would suggest using a floor neutralizer rather than vinegar. The vinegar is an easy solution if the residue isn’t too bad, but neutralizers are designed for this. Mopping the floor in small sections may help also and change your mop water more often. A LOT more often. You can, use a floor scrubber or at the very least, a deck brush to agitate the solution while it is on the floor. Remember, you are causing a chemical reaction between the cleaning solution and the residue. When the residue is heavy, it can take some time to work. In a busy store, this is where working in smaller sections is pretty much a must. Good luck and let me know how it turns out.

  • Jane February 27, 2015, 12:43 am

    I clean bars, a messy job to begin with. We use a degreaser on the floors, it does work to a point. We then rinse with a water/vinegar and most times twice is all we have to mop, except one are the is a main entrance and I have seen us wash that part of floor 10 times. We also have tried Winter Rinse and it is the same on this part of floor. Any ideas???

    • BaldGuyClean March 17, 2015, 11:48 am

      Bar floors are never fun. There are lots of different types chemicals in play usually. The degreaser may be your issue if it is being used at too high of a dilution. The vinegar or Winter Rinse neutralizer could be battling against the degreaser residue and never getting to the actual dirt that is being tracked in. I would recommend using a large, high quality entrance mat to help contain the tracked in soils at the door. There are two different types of soils you are fighting. The ones from inside, food and drink and the ones tracked in from outside, the dirt and salt. Unfortunately these require different cleaning solutions to remove.

      Best of luck!

  • Vivian Bennett January 21, 2016, 6:30 am

    Thanks for the information! Your explanation helped me to know how to clean salt residue from the floor. Greetings

  • Susan Garcia December 11, 2016, 7:48 am

    We are battling ice melt on our floors in our facility. I will try your tips on what use to remove the salt residue. I will get back to you Thank you!

  • alonzo December 16, 2016, 9:19 am

    what would you suggest for ceramic floors to remove salt

    • BaldGuyClean February 13, 2017, 2:45 pm

      Hi Alonzo. Ceramic floors are just like any other floor when it comes to salt residue, except they are very porous. Especially the grout lines. A floor neutralizer will work very well, but you may need to allow it to dwell on the floor for a few minutes to release the alkaline residue from the salt.

  • Miguel Alvarez December 23, 2016, 12:28 pm

    What do you recommend for salt residue on marble floors?

    • BaldGuyClean February 13, 2017, 2:41 pm

      Hi Miguel. Thank you for your question. I am not a marble floor expert although I have worked with them in the past. The natural stone does take some special care. I would look into the Stone Care International product line to see if they have a neutralizer for removing alkaline from marble floors.

  • Don clark January 7, 2017, 8:17 am

    does it make a difference as to what type and size mop to use

    • BaldGuyClean February 13, 2017, 2:37 pm

      Hi Don. Thank you for your question. Yes it does! My back always lets me know when I have used too big of a mop! ha! You should only use a mop that is manageable for you to use. If it is too small, you will not get good consistent cleaning. If it is too large, you will struggle to cover enough area.

  • Jeni January 15, 2017, 4:50 pm

    I clean an office that has the wood look laminate flooring. The ice melt has become a real problem. I am not supposed to use water on the floor, but will try your vinegar idea – unless you have another suggestion.

    • BaldGuyClean February 13, 2017, 2:30 pm

      Hi Jeni. Thank you for your question. I am not sure why you wouldn’t use water on the floor? Most laminate flooring is designed to be wet cleaned, or mopped. If you would like to limit the amount of moisture on the floor, I would suggest looking into using a flat microfiber mop. They are able to capture and hold more soils with less water. And as always, make sure to remove as much of the soil dry, before mopping, with a dust mop or vacuum cleaner.

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