It can be nerve-wracking to lift your carpet up not knowing what you’ll find underneath. When you do remove the carpet entirely, you’ll find the hardwood underneath is probably dirty, and covered in the adhesive that bound the carpet to it years ago. If you do put in the time and elbow grease to clean the wooden flooring up, though, you won’t be disappointed.
Pick Up Debris
First thing’s first: You’ll need to take some time to go around and pick up any of the carpet installation materials that might be hanging around. That could include staples, tacks, carpet tape and more. Go around (carefully!) and pick up each individual item you notice, using your hands. If you use pliers to yank things out, you could damage the wood.
Once you’ve grabbed everything you can find, take some time to sweep the wood, and then vacuum over it so you can be sure you’ve gotten rid of every last piece of trash, as well as any dust.
Go After the Adhesive
This is the part you’ve probably been dreading.Once the floor is clean and dry, scan the area to get a good idea of where the biggest clumps and clusters of adhesive are, to know where you’ll need to focus most of your attention.
There are a number of methods to getting rid of the adhesive. It may be tempting to go in with a paint scraper or putty knife, but that can damage the wood in an instant if you make even the tiniest wrong move. If you are scrubbing at the floor, make sure to use a product specifically designed for hardwood floors, so you can scrub safely without causing any scratches or damage.
Since adhesives start out as liquids, the best way to remove them from the floor is to get them back into a liquid state.
There are some commercial chemicals you can use as floor strippers. Some may need to be diluted with water and apply it to any glue, wax, or other adhesive, then wait till it melts away. Just make sure the area is well-ventilated so no one inhales too many chemicals.
There are other methods you may prefer if you aren’t comfortable using chemicals, or don’t want to purchase anything too expensive.
Some people recommend using peanut butter. All you have to do is spoon a glob of peanut butter onto the clumps of leftover adhesive, and leave it for a few minutes. The salty snack breaks down the adhesive enough so that you can pull it off without much trouble. Make sure you purchase a natural peanut butter that doesn’t have any additives.
Dry ice is also effective at breaking the adhesive down.You’ll need to use protective gloves while handling the product. Grab a tin cookie sheet and place it over the adhesive you’re trying to remove, than cover the sheet with around half a pound of dry ice. Let it sit for a couple minutes, and when you take it off, the adhesive will largely come with it. The rest will be easily removed with soap and water.
Make it Presentable
Now that you’ve gotten rid of everything covering the floor, you want to make it shine. There are a number of ways to do that – some fancier than others.
You can purchase a hardwood cleaning solution and use a soft scrubbing pad to work it into the floors. Or a better option is to steam clean the area, which loosens up dirt and crime and can help if you left behind a tiny bit of adhesive. That’s good to have on hand, as the same machine can be used on tile and other surfaces around the house, so you’ll get a lot of use out of it.
If you’re not interested in purchasing more products, soapy water and a dish sponge works just fine. It’ll take a while, but it gets the job done.
Before you call it a day, make sure the floor is completely dry. Water can cause damage over time, and makes it more difficult to tell what condition the wood is in. After that, you’re all done!