How to Protect Hardwood Floors from Road Salt (10 Tips)

As winter approaches, many of us are gearing up to battle the snow and ice that comes with it. And while there’s nothing quite as satisfying as watching that first snowfall from the warmth of your cozy home, there’s one pesky problem that many of us face: how to protect hardwood floors from road salt.

Sure, salt great for making sure that our roads and sidewalks are safe to walk on. But when it comes to our hardwood floors? Not so much. That stuff can really do a number on them, leaving unsightly stains and making them dull and lifeless. (Not to mention the harm they can do to our furry friends!)

For those of us here in Northeast Ohio, it’s a constant battle: we need to keep our footing outside, but we also have beautiful (sometimes original!) hardwood floors in the historic homes of the area, and road salt can destroy that beautiful aspect of your home.

But fear not, dear reader! I’m here to share with you some tried-and-true methods for keeping road salt from ruining your beautiful hardwood floors. Read on for 10 helpful tips to protect hardwood floors from road salt; you can try a few or add them all to your plan for preparing your home for winter.

How to Prevent Hardwood Floor Damage from Road Salt

The best way to protect hardwood floors from road salt is to stop it from getting on them in the first place. Let’s start with a few prevention tips to protect your hardwood floors from road salt this winter.

Tip 1: Remove Shoes at the Door

If you live in Northeast Ohio too, you probably already do this: take off your shoes at the door and encourage everyone else in your household to do the same, especially during the wet and cold winter months. This will help to keep the majority of the salt and other gunk that’s on your shoes from getting tracked onto your floors.

Tip 2: Use Floor Mats to Protect Surfaces

Another effective method is to place mats at all of your exterior entrances. These can help to catch any salt and debris that’s on your shoes before it has a chance to make its way onto your floors. Just make sure to regularly shake out or vacuum the mats to keep them from getting too full.

Tip 3: Use a Different De-Icer

Alternatively, you can try using a different de-icing method. If you’re really worried about salt damaging your floors, consider using a different de-icing product that’s safe for wood. There are plenty of options out there, from sand to kitty litter to beet juice (yes, really). Just make sure to read the label and choose one that won’t harm your floors.

But let’s face it, no matter how careful you are, there’s a good chance that some road salt is going to make its way onto your floors. And when it does, it’s important to act fast to prevent any lasting damage.

Tips for Protecting Your Hardwood Floors from Road Salt

While prevention is the best method of protection, we all know that some road salt is going to make it in the house, even if you do all of the prevention tips in the world. Here are some additional tips to protect your floors from the salt that gets tracked in and around the house despite your best efforts.

Tip 4: Keep Your Floors Clean

One of the best ways to protect hardwood floors from road salt is to regularly sweep or vacuum your floors. This will help to remove any loose salt and other debris before it has a chance to settle and cause problems. Just be sure to use a soft-bristled broom or vacuum attachment to avoid scratching your floors.

Tip 5: Dry Mop Regularly

Another effective method is to dry-mop your floors on a regular basis. This will help to pick up any remaining salt and debris, as well as dissolve any that may have already settled into the pores of your wood. Just be sure to use a gentle cleaner and avoid getting the wood too wet, as this can cause it to warp or swell.

But don’t use water when mopping up salt! I know it seems counterintuitive, but water can actually make the salt stick to your floors even more. Instead, use a dry mop or vacuum to pick up as much of the salt as you can.

Tip 6: Keep Floors Dry

Once you’ve mopped up the salt, make sure to dry your floors thoroughly. If you leave them damp, the salt can dissolve and end up sticking to your floors again. Use a towel or a dry mop to make sure they’re completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Tip 7: Use Wood-Safe Cleaner

Finally, use a wood-safe cleaner to protect those floors from getting stained in the first place. After your floors are dry, use a wood-safe cleaner to restore their shine and protect them from future salt damage. Just make sure to read the label and choose one that’s specifically designed for hardwood floors.

Tip 8: Reseal Floors Annually

Another smart move is to consider resealing your floors, especially in high-traffic zones. For surfaces like vinyl, hardwood, tile and grout, or concrete, an annual resealing can provide them with extra defense against moisture and salt exposure.

Tip 9: Keep an Eye on the Forecast

It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast and take extra steps to protect your floors when there’s a high likelihood of heavy snow or ice. This might mean laying down some protective mats in high-traffic areas or even temporarily moving furniture and rugs to a different room, depending on your circumstances.

Tip 10: Enlist Professional Help

Of course, the most effective way to protect your hardwood floors from road salt is to hire a professional cleaning service. These experts know exactly how to safely and effectively remove road salt and other debris from your floors, leaving them looking as good as new.

So there you have it, folks! With these tips, you can protect hardwood floors from road salt and keep your floors looking beautiful and salt-free all winter long. And hey, if all else fails, you can always just move to a tropical island and avoid the salt altogether!

Want a little help cleaning up?


  • Jacob W. Bailey

    Jacob is the Cleveland-based founder and CEO of Summit Maids, a local cleaning company with a mission to make a mark on its community by providing good jobs to more than 1,000 people.