How to Remove Salt Stains From Carpet

How to Remove Salt Stains From Carpet

The Spruce / Michela Buttignol

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 4 mins - 1 day, 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10

Salt, or ice melt, used to melt ice on sidewalks and streets contains calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, minerals that can leave white stains on clothes, shoes, and carpets. The ice melt is alkaline and attracts dirt and soil, leaving your carpets dirty and stained. While salt stains are relatively easy to remove when they’re fresh, they can weaken or disintegrate carpet fibers, especially wool, over time.

To prevent damage and keep your carpets looking their best, don't let the pellets remain on the carpet, and treat stains as soon as possible when they appear.

 Stain Type  Salt-based
 Detergent Type  Dishwashing liquid, carpet stain remover, distilled white vinegar
 Water Temperature  Hot

Before You Begin

The damage done by salt to the carpets in your home is also happening to the carpet in your car or truck. Use the same cleaning techniques to clean the carpeted floor mats or carpet in your vehicle. Consider purchasing rubber floor mats for better protection from damaging salt.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 vacuum
  • 1 spray bottle
  • 1 soft-bristled brush
  • 2 small bowls or buckets
  • 2 white cloths


  • 1 bottle distilled white vinegar
  • 1 roll paper towel
  • 1 bottle liquid dishwashing detergent


materials for removing salt stains from carpet

The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

How to Remove Salt Stains From Home and Car Carpet

  1. Vacuum the Stained Area

    Vacuum the stained area of the carpet or floor mat to remove any dry, loose pieces of salt. If you don't have a vacuum, use a stiff-bristled broom to sweep the affected area and help bring the salt to the surface of the carpet. Small throw rugs can be taken outside and given a hard shake to remove the salt particles.

    vacuuming the salt-stained area

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  2. Spray With a Vinegar Solution

    Mix a one-to-one solution of hot water and distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the stain, being careful not to over-saturate the carpet.

    Allow the solution to work for at least five minutes. The acetic acid in the vinegar will neutralize the alkaline salts.


    If you are cleaning an area rug that is in place over a hardwood floor, place a tarp or plastic sheeting under the rug before you spray it with the vinegar solution. If the carpet or the pad under it becomes too wet, water stains can appear on the wood floor.

    spraying a vinegar solution

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  3. Blot Away the Moisture

    Use several layers of paper towels to blot away the moisture. The easiest way to apply pressure is to stand on the towels while wearing shoes. If the stained area you are cleaning is large, you can use a wet/dry vac to suction away the moisture.

    Blotting the area with paper towels

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

  4. Let the Carpet Dry

    Allow the area to air-dry completely. Try to avoid walking or allowing pets in the area while the carpet is drying. Finally, vacuum to lift the fibers and restore the carpet's loft.

    allowing the area to dry

    The Spruce / Ana-Maria Stanciu

Tackle Hard-to Remove Salt Stains

If there are traces of salt stains remaining after using the vinegar and water solution and letting the carpet dry completely, use a commercial carpet stain remover or follow these steps to remove the stains.

  1. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    In a small bowl, mix a solution of two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid and two cups of cool water.

    Mixing a salt stain removal solution

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

  2. Treat the Stains

    Dip a soft-bristled brush into the solution. Start at the outside edge of the stain to prevent spreading the stain. Work the cleaning solution into the stained area. Let it work for at least 10 minutes.

    Working the stain removal solution into the carpet with a soft bristle brush

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

  3. Blot Away the Salt

    Blot with paper towels or an old white cloth as the stain transfers out of the carpet. Keep moving to fresh paper towels or a clean, dry area of the cloth until no more stain is transferred.

    Blotting away the salt cleaning solution

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

  4. Rinse the Carpet

    Dip a clean white cloth into some plain water, wring well, and use it to rinse the area. It is particularly important to rinse away any cleaning solution that can attract soil to the area. Blot until no more soapy residue remains.

    Rinsing the stained area with plain water

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

  5. Air-Dry and Vacuum

    Allow the treated area to air-dry without foot traffic. Use a vacuum to lift the fibers.

    Vacuuming the stained area

    The Spruce / Sarah Crowley

Additional Tips for Preventing Salt Stains

  • Add a boot scrape and outdoor mats to prevent salt from coming inside.
  • Ask everyone to remove their shoes at the door.
  • Shake out door mats frequently to remove the salt.
  • Vacuum areas near the door daily to capture salt particles.