Removing Rug Backing Residue from Hardwood Floors – 5 Easy Steps

Removing Rug Backing Residue From Hardwood Floors

When a carpet is left on the floor for a long time, the rubber backing may start to deteriorate, leaving behind a sticky residue on the floor, which is visible when you remove the carpet.

Thankfully, removing rug backing residue from hardwood floors is quite easy when the right procedure is followed. You can use different chemicals to remove sticky rug backing residue on your hardwood floor, and we are going to discuss each one.

The best strategy how to replace a bad board in hardwood floor is by using solvent, wd-40 or using steam. Dry ice and murphy oil soap also work effectively.

Read: How to remove hardwood floor sticker

How to Remove Rug Backing Residue from Hardwood Floor

1. Using Solvents

If there’s residue left on the floor after removing an old carpet, it is usually latex, a rubber compound found in water-based paint.

This compound bonds strongly to any surface it comes in contact with; this is why you need an equally strong solvent to dissolve it completely; these solvents will loosen the bond and make the residue easy to scrape off.

The recommended solvent to get the job done is the one used to remove dried latex paint, but you can also make use of a spray lubricant.

Although these solvents are safe to use on any flooring material, they have specific application methods to adhere to if you want to achieve the best results. Here’s how to remove rug backing residue from hardwood floor using solvents.

Before applying solvent to the floor, start by scrapping and removing as much backing residue as you can off the floor. The rug backing should have become brittle with age, so you should be able to get lots of the residue off this way. When using a solvent, it’s best to work in small sections.

Apply a small amount of solvent to the affected areas and the backing and give the solvent time to work; if you are using a latex paint remover, keep in mind that it’ll need more time than spray lubricant. Once the backing and residue have softened, you can start to scrape it off using a floor scraper.

After removing all the residue, you also need to clean off the solvent, as it leaves an oily residue that can make the floor slippery. To remove the solvent, you can make a solution of warm water and a cleaning product; you can also add a cup of vinegar to the solution to give it extra cleaning power.

Use the solution and a scrubbing pad or plastic scrubber to thoroughly wash the floor; this should also remove any rubber backing that you couldn’t scrape off. When you are done cleaning, use a clean rag to dry the floor.

2. Using WD-40

If you have rug backing residue on your hardwood floor, you can also use wd-40 to remove them. Besides wd-40, you can also use any other type of spray lubricant but make sure to find out if it’s safe for your hardwood floor before using it.

You can do this by spot testing the lubricant in an inconspicuous area of the floor to ensure that it will not cause any issues or damage your floor before applying it to the rubber residue. Here’s how to remove rug backing residue from hardwood floor using wd-40.

Start by spraying the lubricant on the affected areas on the floor, making sure to saturate the rubber residue as much as possible so that it can soften up.

After applying the w-40, allow it to soak in for about 5 minutes. If there are large chunks or a large area covered with the backing residue, you may need to allow it to soak in for a little longer. 

Next, saturate a cloth with soap and water and start to scrub the latex. If it’s difficult to remove the backing with the cloth, you can use a plastic scraper.

Only use a scraper that is plastic, so your floor’s finish is not scratched or damaged. Gently use the plastic scraper to pull away from the softened rubber pieces.

Repeat this process until all the rubber is gone. Then use a clean soapy cloth to remove any remaining lubricant. Adding a few drops of dawn to a clean rag should easily remove the grease off your floor.

When you have completely removed the rug backing residue from your floor, you can use a hardwood cleaner to mop the floor clean of any lubricant that remains on the floor. 

3. Using Steam

If you do not want a method involving harsh chemicals, this is the right method for you. All you need to do is place a damp cloth over the adhesive and use a hot clothes iron to run through the top of the cloth; the steam will cause the glue to soften and make it easy to remove.

You will need to wipe or scrape the area to remove the adhesive, but the steam from the iron makes it a lot easier. If you have concerns about the heat damaging your hardwood flooring, you can skip this method and opt for others that are best suited for you.

4. Using Murphy Oil Soap

In the absence of WD-40, you can make use of some murphy oil soap. Murphy’s oil soap can be used to soften up the hardened backing of a rug and make it easier to remove as well as remove any backing residue that is left on the floor when the rug is removed.

It works similarly to the WD-40. But you also need to spot test the product on an area of your floor to ensure it won’t cause any issue or damage your floor.

This product has been noted to damage certain hardwood floor sealers. Here’s how to use murphy oil soap to remove rug backing residue. You will need to follow the instructions on the back of the product for use. 

Apply the murphy’s oil soap on the rubber residue and allow it to soak it and soften up the rubber. Then using a spatula or plastic scraper, scrape the backing off the floor when all the residue has been removed, clean and mop the area. 

5. Using Dry Ice

If you are dealing with carpet glue from a previous carpet installation, keep in mind that carpet adhesives can be quite tricky to remove from laminate floors.

One way to remove carpet adhesive is by placing dry ice on the carpet glue. Do not place the ice directly on the floor; instead, place it on a metal tray on top of the adhesive and allow it to sit for a few minutes.

The dry ice will cause the glue to freeze and become solid and brittle. When this happens, you will be able to gently scrape away the adhesive. You can repeat this process until you have completely removed the adhesive. Then use a solvent of choice to wipe off any residue.

When handling dry ice, ensure to wear heavy-duty gloves so that the dry ice does not have direct contact with your skin.

Read: How to remove carpet tack strips


This article discusses the different ways of removing rug backing residue from hardwood floors. When a rug is left in a particular position for too long, it may start to deteriorate and leave behind a sticky residue which could damage your floor.

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