There is nothing more unsightly than crusty white salt stains on your car’s cloth carpeting and upholstery after a long winter’s drive in Northeast Ohio. It might seem impossible to clean the interior of your car after a particularly sloppy winter, but we have a foolproof way of cleaning those pesky stains: vinegar.
Because road salt is made up of more than just sodium chloride (table salt), it takes more than just water to dissolve it. The calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate in road salt require that vinegar be added to hot water to chemically react with the minerals, making them water-soluble. This lets the stains be lifted from soft fabric surfaces. Here’s how to do it:
- Mix a solution of 50% hot water and 50% white vinegar.
Ideally, the solution should be in a spray bottle, but a bucket or bowl works fine. If you don’t have vinegar, you could use dishwashing detergent, but it won’t be as effective. You can also try carpet shampoos and cleaners formulated specifically for road salt.
- Spray the stain with your vinegar solution.
Or pour a small amount on the stain, saturating it fully. Remember, the goal is to lift the stain, not push it in further, so don’t be too rough.
- Blot the stain dry.
Use a clean dry towel to dab at the stain. You’re not really “scrubbing” it out, but absorbing the salt out of the carpet. Remember, the vinegar makes the minerals water-soluble.
- Don’t be discouraged!
Salt can be really stubborn, so it might take a few tries to completely lift the stain. Just avoid using the same soaked towel over and over — you don’t want to erase your hard work!
- Air out your car.
Once the stain is gone, the smell of vinegar will be left behind, so air out your car! You will find that your carpets will be as good as new in no time at all!
We know wintertime can be rough on your car, so if you see something else that needs fixing, make an appointment with your local Rad Air Complete Car Care & Tire Center — your car can always use some TLC!