Cleaning Ice Melt

It’s another brutal winter, one where unusually large snowfalls are blanketing the country. And that means hardwood floors will not only get wet (which they shouldn’t), but the rain and snow that’s tracked in on them will likely be mixed with salt or ice melt, leaving streaks and puddles on your floors.  Here’s how to keep them clean and protected during this snowy, rainy, icy winter:

Be Prepared.

Keep an abundance of rags, old towels, and other clean wiper-uppers near your doors to use immediately. The faster you clean the floor up, the cleaner you’ll get it—don’t give the moisture and chemicals time to soak into the wood.  Keep a broom or vacuum handy to sweep away granules of salt or ice melt that could scratch your floors’ surfaces. And, if you can, lay down mats on every walking surface to keep the moisture from touching your floors at all, as well as a large, absorbent mat by the front door for shoes.

 

One More Tip: Consider spreading kitty litter on your sidewalks and steps instead of salt or ice melt. While it won’t melt snow or ice, it will vastly improve your visitors’ traction while being safer for your floors.

 

Know Your Chemicals

Most ice melt products use essentially the same calcium chloride (i.e. salt)-based recipe, with variations and blends that can also include potassium chloride, sodium chloride, magnesium chloride and urea. The makeup of most ice melt products is based on calcium chloride because (a) it melts snow and ice effectively and (b) it’s cheap.

One More Tip: The downside with salt is its high pH levels, pretty much the same levels you’ll find in, say, floor strippers. These pH levels break down your floor’s finish, leaving the wood underneath defenseless. Immediate cleaning action is recommended.

Wiping Out the White

Once the salt starts breaking down your hardwood floor’s finish and the moisture dries, you’ll note how it leaves a white residue or film on the floor. That’s the alkaline salt residue, which should be neutralized.  Dampen a soft cloth with warm water and gently wipe in a circular motion. After the floor has dried, if there’s still a white residue, dilute one cup of white vinegar in one gallon of warm water, and wipe the area, again with a circular motion. Buff-dry the spot immediately.

One More Tip: There’s most likely a commercial floor cleaner made specifically for your home’s floors. Determine what that cleaner is and add it to your anti-snow arsenal before the next blizzard hits.

 

Founded in 1983, Team Clean, Inc. is a commercial janitorial services company in Philadelphia. Due mainly to the service focus and vision of its founder/president/CEO—Donna L. Allie, PhD.—the company enjoyed huge growth during its first two decades. By 1999, it was the fourth-largest woman-owned business in Philadelphia, and the Wharton Small Business Development Center identified it as one of the fastest-growing small businesses in that metropolitan area.