How to remove gummy residue from hardwood floors

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Q: The slip-resistant padding under my family room rug melted onto the hardwood floor. I can scrape the material off using a blunt plastic scraper, but there is still some residue left and scraping is a lot of work. I searched for solutions but found nothing. Is there a way to dispose of this material and residue?

A: If you search for the words “skid pad residue”, you will find a variety of suggestions, some of which are easy to rule out because they make little sense. For example, one site says to “take Klean Strip denatured alcohol and spray it all over the affected area. This odorless mineral spirit is used as a cleaning agent because it helps break down stuck-on upholstery. The website then suggests waiting 10 minutes, then scraping with a plastic putty knife and mopping to remove any remnants of upholstery.

What’s wrong with that? First, denatured alcohol and odorless mineral spirits are different things. Denatured alcohol is ethanol – also known as grain alcohol because it’s made from starch-based cultures – mixed with toxic, bad-tasting additives, so people don’t don’t drink it and the manufacturers don’t have to pay taxes as if they did. an alcoholic drink. Mineral spirits, a more refined version of paint thinner, is a petroleum-based product. “Odorless” on the label means it’s been further refined to rid it of some of the smelliest and most toxic ingredients.

Alcohol, denatured or not, and mineral spirits, with or without the more toxic ingredients, are both solvents, but they don’t necessarily dissolve the same things. Denatured alcohol can damage some wood finishes. Mineral spirits, however, are probably safe. But even if you were to test and find that both solvents dissolve or at least soften the residue on your floor, you’ll find that the rate of evaporation is also important. Alcohol evaporates very quickly, which is why it is used sparingly in some floor cleaners; it helps the soil dry out quickly. To eliminate padding residues, the low evaporation rate of mineral spirits is an asset; this gives you time to remove the softened goo before it hardens again.

How to Clean and Maintain Hardwood Floors

The advice to use a plastic putty knife is good, but mopping to remove the last residue is bad advice, if while mopping you want to take out a mop, run it through water, then use the mop to squirt the water onto the floor so you can wash it off. Introducing too much water is always a bad idea when cleaning wooden floors, as moisture can cause the boards to swell and warp.

So what do you use? Many websites recommend WD-40, which is mostly mineral spirits and a light oil. But Brett Miller, vice president of technical standards, training and certification for the National Wood Flooring Association, said in an email that WD-40 can harm some floor coverings. Plain mineral spirits would be a better option, he said.

Test the solvent in a small, out of the way area, such as a closet, to make sure it doesn’t affect the finish of the floor. Then test a small area where the underpad was to make sure it removes or at least softens the residue enough for you to scrape it off. Miller warned that you might find the residue won’t come off completely, even with a solvent.

“Most of the cheaper pads are coated with adhesives intended to improve adhesion,” he wrote. “It can damage any wood floor finish. Many carpet pads contain chemicals such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or phthalates, which can seep through and bond to the floor finish over time. Some pads even discolor the wood itself, he said. When this happens, the only remedy is to sand and refinish the floor.

If you confirm the solvent is appropriate, tackle a larger area, but not so large that you cannot easily cross it. Wear chemical resistant gloves, make sure there is good ventilation and no open flames nearby. If you’re using mineral spirits, pour it on a cloth pad, then wipe the floor. do not pour it into a puddle. For WD-40, use the same procedure or spray it on. Wait for the residue to soften, perhaps five to 10 minutes, then wipe it off with a sponge cloth or other rough-textured cloth. Fold over or rotate the fabric after each pass, so you don’t spread the grime over a wider area. On stubborn areas, use a plastic spatula. Once you’ve removed all visible residue, make a final pass with a little more solvent and a clean rag.

Finally, remove any oily residue left by mineral spirits or WD-40. Mix a capful of clear hand dishwashing detergent, such as Dawn, with about two cups of warm water. Dip a clean cloth in it and wring it out so it’s damp, then wipe down an area. Repeat, but with clear water and a clean cloth, then dry with another clean cloth. Then clean the next area. By working in sections, you can dry the soil as quickly as possible. Fold and rotate the cloths often, or switch to new cloths.

To prevent this problem from happening again, buy a non-slip pad labeled as safe to use on hardwood floors.

A problem at home? Send your questions to [email protected]. Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live, and try to include a photo.

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