A Step-by-Step Guide: How To Get Ice Melt Residue Out of Carpet

Worker spreading salt on icy sidewalk

Maybe you already know how to get ice melt soils out of entrance matting, but what about carpet? Sometimes ice melt residue finds its way past your entryway matting and spreads its whitish film throughout hallways and beyond. It seems like it’s everywhere, and very noticeable.

When you find that dulling, sticky film pervading throughout your facility, it’s time to kick up your cleaning routine a notch.

The Tools You Need

The good thing is you don’t need a lot of tools to tackle ice melt residue.

  • Carpet Fan – A carpet fan will help speed up carpet drying. With ice melt comes slush and with slush comes a wet mess (all over your carpets). You’ll want to make sure the carpet is dry before beginning the cleaning process – your vacuum will thank you! Trying to vacuum a wet carpet with a machine that’s not made for water removal will damage the motor.
  • Vacuum – Find a powerful and reliable vacuum with warning lights that alert the operator to a full vacuum bag, clog and brush jam – important features when dealing with ice melt pellets and debris that’s tracked in.
  • Neutralizer – Use an all-purpose cleaner that is blended with hydrogen peroxide and made up of surfactants and active agents that reduce surface tension. It should be acidic in nature, so it will help to bring the alkaline-based ice melt residue back to a neutral pH of 7 (hence the name) – that’s the sweet spot that makes it easier to remove and clean up residue.
  • Extractor – Unlike matting where a deck brush will suffice, it’s best to recruit the help of equipment when tackling ice melt residue on areas of carpet. The extractor will apply and remove the cleaning solution for you while agitating the carpet fibers.

How to Put Those Tools to Work

Now that you have the right tools and understand what they are for, let’s get cleaning!

  1. First, make sure that your carpet is dry. Either wait over night and clean first thing in the morning, or put the carpet fan to use.
  1. With the carpet dry, you’re ready to vacuum. It’s important to pick up any loose soils, debris, and tracked-in ice melt before working with the cleaning solution.
  1. Prepare the cleaning solution. Dilute the neutralizer/acidic cleaner 1-2 ounces per gallon of water.
  1. Power up your extractor and fill the solution tank.
  1. One way to tackle ice melt residue is to use the extractor without the vacuum engaged first, and allow the solution to flood the carpet. Let it dwell 10-15 minutes to let the solution go to work.
  1. Next, engage the extractor and remove the solution.
  1. Check your work. If the carpet still has signs of residue, it may be time to up the level of concentration on the cleaner to have a greater effect on the residue. You may have to increase the dosage to 2-4 ounces per gallon to remove all of the residue, but start at the lowest concentration first to prevent foaming inside the extractor.
  1. Repeat steps 3-7 until the area is clean, and then rinse with plain water through the extractor to remove any detergent.
  1. And we’ve come full circle. You’ll want to put those carpet fans to work again to ensure the area is dry before allowing it to be walked on.

It’s best to try and stay ahead of ice melt residue. Implement a proper entryway matting system as your first line of defense, and develop a winter carpet care plan.

Contact Ferguson Facilities Supply for help creating a carpet cleaning plan that’s best for your facility.

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Courtney Petesch

Courtney Petesch is the Marketing Specialist for HP Products, a distributor of 50,000 facility maintenance products throughout the Midwest. Courtney has over 5 years of experience managing e-commerce product content and merchandising, overseeing social media initiatives, executing email marketing campaigns and evaluating analytics.