Spring has finally come to Colorado with its alternating wet, heavy snowstorms and warm, sunny days. The mix of slush and salt left on roads and sidewalks is corrosive and can damage everything from cars to carpets, so it is good to be aware of how to clean salt from various surfaces. Offices can be especially affected by salt because of increased foot traffic. Here are some helpful ways to keep salt and deicer from ruining your floors, clothes, and vehicles.
The important factor in cleaning salt from floors is to use plenty of water- when dry, the salt crystals can act like sandpaper and scratch a floor’s finish. It is recommended that you use warm water with 2 tbsp of ammonia and 1 tbsp borax, but a mixture of warm water with a splash of vinegar will also do the trick. Spray or splash the floor with the water and wait a few minutes for the salt to dissolve before mopping.
The best mop for the job is one that absorbs the most water quickly, such as a microfiber mop. Sponge mops may not absorb quick enough and allow the dirty water to settle in grout or other crevices. If you are noticing an extreme amount of dirt and residue on your floors it may be time to buy new or better mats to place in all the entryways to catch grime before it comes inside.
Clothes and Shoes:
Unlike floors, clothes cannot be scratched. This means you can allow the salt to dry on the fabric (you will see a powdery white residue) and you can brush off most of it using a clothes brush or any soft bristle brush. Any mud mixed in with the salt should also brush off easily, but make sure it is completely dry before attempting it or the mud will get ground deeper into the fabric. Any remaining salt or dirt can then be laundered away.
Shoes, especially leather shoes, should be wiped down immediately after contact with salt residue. Saddle soap or other leather cleaning products should be used to clean and protect leather shoes on a regular basis to keep them shiny and moisture-resistant. Olive oil works in a pinch to condition the shoes against water. If the shoes are very wet or soaked through, avoid drying them with heat (which can lead to shrinkage and further damage). Instead, fill the shoes with dry newspaper and replace the paper as necessary until the shoes are dry. Suede is trickier to clean, but try blotting it with a soft towel soaked in white vinegar to take out the worst of the stains. Once it dries you should then buff the suede with a dry cloth to renew the surface (the “nap” which makes suede soft).
Salt and deicer can seriously damage a car’s paint and exposed metal surfaces. Again, water mixed with vinegar (1/2 and 1/2) can be used to spot clean, but the best way to protect your car is to take it to your local car wash. Car washes are more environmentally friendly than doing the same job at home because they filter the dirty runoff instead of letting the salt run into drains where it can run into streams and rivers.
With (hopefully!) nothing but warm weather ahead, these steps can help keep your floors, clothes, and cars protected from corrosion until next winter. Unsure of what cleaning products to use in your office? Contact EON for recommendations.