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.