How to Clean Old Hardwood Floors after Removing Carpet

how to clean old hardwood floors after removing carpet

Hardwood floors and known for their durable and timeless nature. However, you may want to add a touch of elegance by using a carpet to cover the hardwood floors. What happens when you want to remove the carpet?

This necessitates the follow-up question: how to clean old hardwood floors after removing carpet. Admittedly, this is no easy task. You will need to carefully remove the carpet first, then attack the carpet’s adhesive and residue left behind using various methods such as a vinegar water solution or soapy water solution.

Stay with us as we discuss effective steps on how to clean old hardwood floors after removing carpet.

Read: How to clean old damaged wood floor

How to Clean Old Hardwood Floors after Removing Carpet

The chances are that your hardwood floor has been in hibernation under your carpet. So, you need to take some steps to bring it back to life. Below is a step to step procedure to restore your hardwood after carpet removal.

Step 1: Remove the Carpet Gently

This is probably one fun part of this project. You are anxious to see what the hardwood looks like after years of hiding underneath the carpet.

However, don’t let the excitement push you to pull out the carpet roughly; you don’t want to cause any damage to your floor by ripping up the carpet hard and fast.

You need a utility knife, pry bar, tape, trash bags, pliers, and dust masks to remove the carpet.

​Start from the edge to pull off the carpet using a pry bar to pull the carpet off the nails that hold it down. For places where the carpet gets stuck to the floor, don’t pull strongly; rather, use the utility knife gently to remove the carpet.

The whole idea is to move slow and steady, removing the carpet along the tack strips and then cutting the carpet into long, thin strips.

You have to be careful the nails that hold the carpet in place. Digging your fingers into them is quite painful. Use the trash bag to discard the old carpet.

Read: How to get wrinkles out of carpet

​Step 2: Remove the Leftover Residue

This is probably one of the toughest stages in the process. Before you can get to the main cleaning, you need to remove the leftover residue. This includes carpet tacks, staples, and adhesives still on the ground.

You can gently pull over the leftover staples with your hands. At this point, you want to apply minimal force because if you pull too hard, you can damage the hardwood. You don’t want to be stuck with a hardwood floor ridden with holes, scuffs, and blemishes.

To remove the leftover adhesive residue, you can either opt for commercial floor cleaning products or natural, homemade products.

For instance, smearing peanut butter on the leftover adhesive will break down the adhesive and make it easy to pull up.

You can also place dry ice on a tin cookie sheet that covers the entire adhesive strip; this will harden the adhesive and make it easier to pull out.

For tougher leftover adhesives, you may have to use commercial products to remove everything. A putty knife or paint scraper will also prove quite useful in removing stubborn leftover adhesives. You will need to tread carefully as you don’t want to damage your hardwood floors.

Read: How o easily remove hardwood floor stickers

Final Step: Cleaning the Hardwood Floor

This is the final stage once you have completely gotten rid of the carpet, debris, and residue. It’s time to restore your hardwood floor to its former glory.

The condition of your hardwood floors finish will determine the type of cleaning method to employ. Suppose you used a polythene finish before installing the carpet.

In that case, you need to check if it’s in good condition before employing a wider range of cleaning methods.

To check, pour a few drops of water onto several areas of your hardwood flooring. If the wood absorbs the water, it means that the finish is not in good standing but if the water beads, and stays beaded for several minutes, then your finish is fine.

If your finish is not in good standing, avoid putting any water on the flooring. Just vacuum the floor and apply a good finish.

If the finish is still in good standing, you can use water and dish soap or water and vinegar to clean the floor. To give the floor a shiny look, you can apply coconut oil.

How to Clean Subfloor After Removing Carpet

Sometimes after removing the carpet or rug, you are left with a smelly subfloor ridden with molds and mildew, and specks of dust. Below are steps on how to clean the subfloor after removing the carpet.

1. Vacuum or sweep the floor thoroughly to remove every loose dust and dirt.

2. Mix vinegar, warm water, and bleach in a bucket. This eliminates the bad smell and also disinfects the floor.

3. Use this mixture to wash the floor. Use the smallest amount of water possible since hardwood doesn’t go well with excessive moisture. Better still, dip the broom inside the solution and brush it along the floor.

4. Wash section by section. Once you’re done with a small area of the floor, use a dry rag or mop to clean up any remaining moisture. This should be done as quickly as possible to avoid any damage to the wood.

5. When you’re done cleaning, allow the floor to dry completely. Or, to hasten the process, put on a fan so the floor can dry faster.

6. Alternatively, you can apply a sealer/finish to protect the subfloor. You can use an oil-based sealer, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Give the sealer at least 24 hours to dry completely. You can now install a new carpet if you wish.

Read: How to polish hardwood floor

How To Remove Carpet Pad Stains from Hardwood Floors

Removing carpet from your hardwood floors comes with the dreaded possibility of carpet pad stains.

First of all, what are carpet paddings? Carpet paddings are placed underneath the carpet to absorb excess moisture from spills or washes that would otherwise stain the floor. It also helps in sound absorption from all the trampling that occurs.

Find out: Do rug pad damage hardwood floor?

Carpet pad stains are sticky carpet paddings that are glued to your floors. Luckily, there are various methods you can use to remove carpet pad stains from hardwood floors. We will discuss these methods below:

Method 1: Soapy Water Solution

This is a DIY solution to removing carpet pad stains. As we know, soap and water can loosen any kind of dirt. To make this solution, mix 2 to 4 tablespoons of detergent liquid in a liter of water. Mix this well and transfer it into a spray bottle.

Spray it on the carpet pad stains and let it sit for some time. Then, use a blunt putty knife and scrape the padding away. Repeat the process to remove all pad stains.

Read: DIY floor cleaner for spray map

Method 2: Vinegar Water Solution

Everyone knows that vinegar is a great cleaning agent and thus is quite effective in removing the stickiness of the carpet pad.

To make the solution, combine distilled white vinegar and warm water in equal parts. Mix thoroughly and pour into a spray bottle. Spray on the pad stains and let it sit for at most 5 minutes. The mixture will dissolve the stains.

Method 3: Use A Chemical Cleaning Solvent

The two methods discussed above are DIY methods. Sometimes these DIY methods might not remove tough carpet stains. If such is the case, a better approach would be to use a chemical cleaner.

You can use WD-40 or Murphy Oil Soap. Both products are safe for hardwood floors. To be on the safe side, use the products in an inconspicuous part of the floor to make sure it doesn’t cause any issues.

Spray the product in the affected area and give it some time to soften the stain. You can then use a spatula or plastic scraper to scrape off stubborn pad stains. Clean and mop the area when you are done.

Method 4: Use heat

Some pad stain spots just won’t disappear even after using all the methods discussed above. If such is the case, you need to dust off your heat gun or a blow-dryer.

First, soak the stain in any of the cleaning methods discussed above then clean. Apply hot air on the pad stains, this will help further loosen the sticky pad, and you’ll find it gliding off as smooth as butter.

You can then wipe with clean water and dry with a towel or rag.

Read: How to clean unsealed hardwood floor


There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to cleaning old hardwood floors after removing carpet. The only rule that should guide you is treading carefully and gently. You don’t want to damage your hardwood floor in a bid to get rid of carpet stains and residue.

That is an end to our post. We hope you picked some major tips on how to clean old hardwood floors after removing carpet safely and efficiently. Good Luck!

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