How to Remove Salt Stains From Your Floor Mats

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CARS.COM — Spring is almost here and for many car owners that means saying goodbye to snow, slush and street salt with a good spring cleaning.

Related: How to: Get Rid of Tree Sap on Your Car

All three of those elements can wind up inside your car no matter how careful you are during winter driving, and that means stains. Your car’s floor mats and carpet end up being victims of this wintery mess, and oftentimes it can be a pain to clean the resulting salt stains. Thankfully, when it comes to cleaning salt-stained carpet and floor mats there’s a remedy that’s inexpensive and easy to follow. We’re also fans of buying winter floor mats that are less arduous to clean, but inevitably those are often forgotten until the first snow of the year has already left a stain or two for you to remove.

What You Need for Cleaning

  • 1 bucket or spray bottle
  • 1 bottle of household distilled white vinegar
  • Hot water
  • Scrub brush with hard bristles
  • A shop vacuum or auto vacuum (optional)

Cleaning Steps


1. Mix a 50/50 cleaning solution of household distilled white vinegar and hot water in a bucket or a spray bottle.

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2. Pour or spray the water/white vinegar solution onto the salt-crusted carpet or floormats, making sure to avoid contact with any electrical connections. Filling an empty spray bottle with the water/white vinegar solution allows you to easily spray the area you’re working on cleaning.

3. Let the water/white vinegar solution sit for a few seconds on the floormats or the carpet.

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4. Using a dry paper towel, sponge or clean cloth, dab and soak up the remaining mixture. (You can repeat steps 2 through 4 a few times, if desired, for stubborn salt stains.)

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5. You can stop here or finish the job with a vacuum, preferably a wet shop vac that can suck up any leftover salt that was removed from the carpet or floor mats.

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6. When done, hang your floor mats up to dry or leave your windows rolled down (if inside) for the car to air out. The last thing you want is to drive to a fancy restaurant and have your date think you’re wearing vinegar for cologne. The night could quickly turn sour.

Inexpensive rubber floor mats from your local auto parts store can help eliminate this hassle. Swap these with the regular floor mats during the winter driving months, and keep your cloth floor mats safe in your trunk or garage. We’ve even splurged on custom-fit floor mats from time to time.

**While we hope to help you, is not responsible for any damage that may occur to your vehicle by following the steps above.

Cleaning salt stains off your upholstery isn’t the only thing we at have advice on. For more tips, tricks and helpful hints on a broad range of topics related to caring for your car, check out our Advice section, as well as our How To section. We’ve got news you can use on everything from keeping your car from getting filthy from your kids to simple fuel-saving tips, and from things you should remove from your car in the winter to starting your car in subzero temperatures. Plus we’ve got loads of vehicle-shopping and financing pointers in our Car Shopping and Car Reviews sections, and child safety seat testing in our Car Seat Check section.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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