SVB Wood Floors Blog

Will Ice Melt or Salt Hurt My Wood Floors?

Ice Melt on Walkway PhotoIt’s wintertime in Kansas City and that means trouble for your hardwood floors. First, moisture is tracked in during wet, snowy, or icy weather. We know moisture is never a good thing for hardwood floors, but when it’s mixed with salt or ice melt products, it’s even worse. What should you do to clean and protect your hardwood floors in the winter? Here are some helpful tips from the hardwood floor professionals at SVB Wood Floors.

Reduce Damage with Quick Cleanups

Removing the moisture and chemicals quickly is your first line of defense. The faster you remove it, the less time it has to soak into the wood. If the residue is already dry, sweep or vacuum the area to remove any granules that can scratch the surface further. It’s a good idea to keep some soft, absorbent towels or rags near your doors so it’s easy and convenient to mop up the messes as they occur.

What Chemicals Are in Ice Melt Products?

Nearly all ice melt products are made from one, or a blend of, five materials – calcium chloride, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, and urea. The makeup of most ice melt products is based around calcium chloride (salt), because of its effective melting properties and its low price. The problem with salt is that it has a high pH level, just like floor strippers. This breaks down the finish on your floor making the wood below vulnerable.

Removing Salt or Ice Melt Stains from Wood Floors

Because the chemicals break down the finish protecting your wood floor, the salt or ice melt will oftentimes leave a white film or residue behind after it dries. The alkaline salt residue needs to be neutralized. The best way to do this is with an acidic chemical. To remove the film, first try just a plain soft cloth dampened with water. If the residue remains when the floor is dry, you may want to use a professional floor cleaning product or you can try adding one cup of white vinegar diluted in a gallon of warm water. Use a lightly damp cloth and buff the area in a circular motion and buff dry immediately. Always test this method in a small spot first.

Prevention Is Your Best Defense against Hardwood Floor Damage

Your best defense is prevention. Instead of using ice melt products, try using kitty litter. It won’t necessarily melt the ice, but it will give the shoes of visitors a safe surface to grip. It has a softer texture than salt or ice melt products and won’t scratch your floors as easily. Also, use lots of mats – a couple outside and even a couple more inside. The more times your shoes come into contact with a mat, less chemical residue is tracked into your home. If your floors really take a beating this winter and need a deep cleaning, call SVB Wood Floors for a hardwood floor deep clean. Call us at (913) 213-5187 or (816) 965-8655.

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