Dealing with Salt Residue on Floors

There is no doubt, salt residue on your lobby and office floors can cause a real problem both short term not only with appearance and safety but also long term when it comes to the life of the floor.  Flooring is expensive!

Winter’s cold and snow presents many cleaning challenges to today’s maintenance professionals.  And one of the most common here in St. Louis… is removing salt residue from floors.

In this article, we’d like to discuss the changing challenges in removing salt residue from floors. Typically, most floor cleaning chemicals or neutral cleaners are designed to remove normal dirt and grime. When a substance as different as salt or calcium chloride becomes the main soil overnight, it requires a different approach.

Salt is HARD to remove!

The chemical make up of most commercial and residential salt compounds and ice melting products is based around calcium chloride because of its effective melting properties and it is inexpensive. The problem occurs  when floor care doesn’t adapt and typical products like high pH floor stripper are applied.

For salt residue to be properly removed it should be neutralized, changing the pH to neutral or 7. Otherwise, it just gets massaged in to the rest of the dirt and grime and becomes a gooey messy. The tacky, sticky mess can be disastrous.  Especially because there is a significant probability that the mixture has started to dissolve the floor finish.  At that point floors attract even more dirt, salt residue is even more difficult to clean up and floors will have to be stripped and recoated which costs time and money.  You can stop the crazy cycle, or at least reduce the  number of times you strip.

Effective ways to Remove Salt Residue

Now that we understand what has been causing us all these problems over the years let’s take a look at how to solve the problem and keep our floors shining and in top shape.

The first order of business is to understand that the alkaline salt residue needs to be neutralized and the best way to do that is with an acidic solution.  Of course, you can select from several brands of acidic pH neutralizer cleaning chemicals.  You will want to check the documentation (Materials Safety Sheets) for recommended uses in commercial and industrial cleaning applications.  And/or check with your flooring supplier or manufactures to see what they recommend.

Of course…There is a home remedy that should be darn effective for you.  Vinegar also has a low pH and can be used in sparingly small amounts to remove that nasty salt residue.  This home remedy calls for just 4-5 oz. of vinegar to every 4 gallons of regular tap water and voila! Your floors are clean, no sticky or unsightly residue, with a lot less work.  A little science goes a long way.  Whatever your solution, do check with a flooring expert.  A 10 minute call can save your hours.