Get Salt Stains out of Your Car's Carpet

If you drive in a cold climate, you'll very likely end up with white stains on your car's carpeting from road salt. When winter ends, it's time to tackle those stains. Fortunately it's quite easy, if a little repetitive, to get the stains out.


  1. In a spray bottle, mix up a solution of 1/2 warm water and 1/2 white vinegar. Vinegar is a natural cleaning agent that, while it certainly doesn't smell good, sure is powerful. If you don't have a bottle, mix it up in a bucket or bowl.
    • Don't have vinegar? You could use dishwashing detergent, but it probably won't be as effective. There's also carpet shampoos and salt cleaners, but if you had those, you probably wouldn't be on this page.
  2. Spray the stained area with the solution. If you're not using a spray bottle, pour a small amount on the area, saturating it.
    • If you have a scrubbing brush, you could use it at this point if you'd like. You want to do it delicately, however; the aim is to stir up the salt, not to dig it in deeper. Just lightly scrub the carpet, stirring the stain to the surface.
  3. Press a dry, clean towel over the wet area. Dab the area gently -- again, not forcing the stain down, but absorbing what's come to the top.
  4. Remove the towel when it's soaked. If it's soaked and there's still liquid left, grab another towel and repeat.
    • You could also finish the job off with a wet/dry vacuum. Just dab the towel on the area, pull out your vacuum, and start sucking up the salt stain. This is a good method for the smell, too.
    • If the stain looms, repeat the process a few times. Salt can be stubborn, but it's definitely removable. If vinegar doesn't work (with a few applications, it should), look into a product that is specifically designed for road salt removal.
  5. Watch out for the smell! After you've applied your vinegar, the last thing you want is to be smelling like your rancid car on your way to work. Get the fresh air going as soon as you the stains are all gone and you're completely finished.
    • If it's your floor mats that are the culprit, remove them and hang them to dry (just make sure you don't get new salt stains underneath them!).
    • If the stains are on an area that you can't remove, roll your windows down and air out the car.


  • Do not be discouraged by a deep-rooted stain; it will come out eventually.
  • If you do not want to spend a whole day doing this, apply the solution whenever you happen to be driving. Just remember to remove the towel promptly and let the carpet dry out.
  • Alternatively, if you use a foaming carpet cleaner from an auto store, you can use the soft plastic brush provided with the cleaner to work in the solution. It will cleanse the area.


  • Avoid the temptation to rub the stained area. It does not help and may damage the carpet.

Things You'll Need

  • Spray bottle (ideal, but can be replaced with a bowl or bucket)
  • Vinegar and water solution (1:1 ratio)
  • Towel
  • Wet/dry vacuum (optional)
  • Scrubbing brush (optional)

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