How to Remove Salt Stains From the Carpet in Your Car

Just as little mishaps and bits of grime make their way into your home that necessitate cleaning, your car's interior carpet periodically needs attention to stay fresh as well. Those who live in colder climates with regular snowfall often see whitish stains on their vehicle's carpeting. These stains are caused by small amounts of salt that get tracked inside your car. Fortunately, these white blemishes on your interior don't have to be permanent and are quite simple to remove once the snow begins to thaw.

While you may be scratching your head over the relationship between snow and salt, the relationship is actually quite simple. Not only does snow have its own small share of salt in its composition, northern regions are more likely to salt their roads to increase vehicle traction and prevent accidents. All of this salty frozen water can stick to the bottom of shoes and make its way onto your car's carpet. When it dries, it leaves a white dusty residue of salt once the water has evaporated. Although it looks like you have faded regions on your carpet, these stains really come out with ease.

Method 1 of 2: Vinegar

Although vinegar doesn't have the sweetest smell, it is an effective, natural cleaner many households have on hand. If it's not part of your current array of tools, vinegar is quite cheap and available at nearly any grocery store.

Materials Needed

  • Scrub brush
  • Spray bottle
  • Towel
  • Water
  • White vinegar

Step 1: Prepare the solution. Prepare a vinegar and water solution in an empty spray bottle. The proportions should be about half and half, a mixture strong enough to still be effective and weak enough to cut a bit of the acidic vinegar odor.

Step 2: Spray stained areas. Liberally spray the salt-stained region of your car's carpet.

  • Tip: If you have removable floor mats, you may wish to take them out for cleaning and also treat any salt stains that may have formed beneath them. Once all is clean and dry again, you can replace them to their original positions.

Step 3: Scrub the surface. Gently scrub the area with a brush, taking care to not press too hard. The goal here is to bring the salt up to the surface for removal instead of pushing it further into the carpeting fibers.

  • Warning: To scrub gently means just that – gently. If you put a lot of elbow grease behind this step, you can damage your carpet permanently by scraping away the fibers that lend its luxurious look, which is far more unsightly than a mere salt stain.

Step 4: Dab to dry. Dab a clean, dry towel over the saturated area to whisk away moisture. If your towel becomes too soaked, swap it out for another dry towel.

Step 5: Repeat process. Repeat the process as necessary until the salt stain is completely gone.

Method 2 of 2: Foaming carpet cleaner

For those wanting a better-smelling method than using vinegar, there are foaming carpet cleaners for automotive use that have a less intrusive scent. These products are also quite easy to use and find, and they often come with a scrubbing device on their tops.

Materials Needed

person spraying carpet cleaner

Step 1: Spray carpet cleaner. Spray a generous amount of foaming carpet cleaner on the stained part of your car's carpet.

Step 2: Scrub fabric. Use the included scrubber on the cleaner or a scrub brush to gently work the salt up to the surface of the fabric.

Step 3: Air dry. Allow the cleaner to air dry.

person vacuuming vehicle

Step 4: Vacuum the residue. Vacuum the dried cleaner residue and salt off of your carpet's surface.

Step 5: Repeat process. Repeat this process as necessary.

  • Tip: It is not unusual to need to repeat the cleaning process with either method more than once. Salt stains can be stubborn, but they do eventually come out, so don't waste your time getting frustrated.

Salt stains are a common occurrence in any region that sees its fair share of snow. These stains, fortunately, are removable with a little effort and patience. Using one of these methods may become part of your regular spring cleaning and, with practice - you are sure to become adept at salt stain removal and make it a thing of ease.


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