If you live in a cold weather area, you know about salt stains. Whether you throw salt out on your front steps, walkways, driveways or sidewalks or your local city employees salt the roads or your employer salts the parking lot, you will end up tracking salt into your house. Salt does a great job of melting the ice to keep stairs and walkways from becoming skating ponds, but it is rough on your carpets.

You, your guests, friends and family members can unknowingly track salt into your house and across your carpeting on the bottoms of their shoes. Over time and if left untreated salt can permanently damage your carpeting. Untreated salt can bleach the color out of your carpet. The salt stains begin as a hazy whitish footprint or shoe print outline on your carpet. As the salt stain dries onto your carpet the white color becomes deeper and more pronounced. The longer the salt is allowed to remain on your carpeting the greater chance of permanent discoloration. Salt left on carpeting also dries out natural fibers and cause them to become weak and brittle. The sooner you get rid of the salt form your carpet the better for your carpet.

Removing the Salt Stains

In a bucket add 1/4 cup of mild laundry detergent suitable for all colors, 1 cup of white vinegar and 4 cups of warm water.

Use a stir stick or long handle wood spoon to gently stir the ingredients to blend them well without causing suds. Stir the mixture until the laundry detergent is thoroughly distributed throughout the water and white vinegar.

Dip a clean sponge or clean sponge mop into the mixture and squeeze out excess liquid onto the salt stains on your carpet. Sponge mops give you a further reach and are easier to use if their are many stains on the carpet such as from footprints or shoe prints.

Allow the salt fighting solution to remain on the carpet for 2 to 3 minutes.

Fold up several sheets of paper towels or clean rags and place over the salt stain.

Press the paper towels or rags firmly into the carpeting to soak up the liquid. Discard soaked paper towels or use new rags once they become wet and will no longer soak up excess water from the carpet.

Repeat the process of saturating the salt stain, blotting up the excess water and repeating at least 4 to 6 times on each salt stain, footprint or shoe print. Make sure you blot up as much excess water from the carpeting as possible. You do not want to leave the area wet because it can cause mold, mildew or the back of your carpeting to rot.

If the carpet is fairly wet, add a thick layer of paper towels and place a weight on top of the paper towels to help wick up the moisture from the carpet.

Further Carpet Cleaning

You may have to shampoo your whole carpeted area after this treatment because the previously salt stained areas will be bright and clean. The dirty areas around it will look very dirty in comparison especially on light color carpeting.

If you choose to shampoo your entire carpet, you can use this same mixture. As an added benefit the vinegar helps to eliminate odors from carpeting.

Avoid salt tracks on your carpeting by asking family friends and guests to remove their shoes at the front door.

If your carpet is laid right up to the front door, consider laying a scrap of carpet or a carpet square near the door for visitors to step on before they remove their shoes.

Always use white paper towels or white rags to clean your carpet. paper towels with printed designs or colored rags may transfer teh dye to the carpet which will leave a whole new stain on the carpet.