We just bought a house with lovely bright pink carpeting over hardwood floors, and tore it all up. The foam underneath was multi-colored, and the black spots appear to have melted to the floor.


Another angle

It's hard to see in the pictures, but those are actual little lumps of sticky foam (melted? it's 90°F here).

So, what's the easiest way to remove these from the floor without ruining it? I've read online suggestions of hardwood floor cleaner, Goo-Gone, soapy water, and even dry ice.

  • 1
    Why you don't lay cheap carpet pad over a nice wood floor. The rubber will react with the finish and weld into it. The worst I ever saw was a partial natural rubber pad on some sort of varnish. The rubber had gone through to the wood with these sticky divots all over the place. Shoes would stick to the rubber spots. Other padding out there exists if you ever want to revert to the wood floor after carpeting. Aug 26, 2013 at 21:11
  • If you are considering dry ice, be very careful. Skin can be severely damaged by contact.
    – bib
    Aug 27, 2013 at 12:34
  • 1
    I've had great success removing crap from floors with a wallpaper steamer and scraper
    – hookenz
    Sep 8, 2014 at 22:22
  • 2
    🎶 If the carpet's put down wrong, you must scrape it. If the foam sticks on too long, you must scrape it! If you're tired of this song, you must scrape it! Scrape it! Scrape it good! 🎶
    – iLikeDirt
    Jul 24, 2015 at 20:35

15 Answers 15


Probably you are hoping to spray some Miracle Vanishing Formula™, instantly wipe, and be good as new. Maybe it is possible to do that, or use a putty knife carefully.

In the end, you will probably have added scratches, and there are probably defects and worn portions screaming for refinishing. So why not skip to the (seemingly) inevitable conclusion: maybe now is a great time to refinish the whole floor.

Rent a floor sander, either a drum sander, floor stripper, or square buff sander and take off the foam, varnish, and thin layer of the wood.

drum sander floor stripper square buff sander wood floor edger

Usually, it is best to remove floor edge molding to get all the way to the walls, but if the molding is expensive or hard to remove, it is not unreasonable to do a best effort with the edge sander (above right) or an orbital with a shield.

Then add floor finish, sand, buff, and refinish again. It is a lot of work and has to be spread out over at least three days with no use of the room, but it can really revive an iffy room and make it one you can be proud of.

  • 2
    +1 for refinishing. If someone saw fit to cover the hardwood with carpet, the hardwood was probably a bit tired even then. You may not need to go down to bare wood as this answer suggests--a surface sanding may be all that is required to remove the spots and rough-up the surface for a new application of polyurethane.
    – mac
    Aug 26, 2013 at 20:30
  • You can refinish. But unless you're very competent, it's best to leave that to a pro. It's really east to ruin a floor with a big sanding machine.
    – hookenz
    Sep 8, 2014 at 22:21
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    @Matt: Refinishing a floor is a LOT easier with the modern machines than with the old drum sanders. Those had some risk of digging into the wood. The new ones -- such as the four-disk random orbital machine I used -- are almost trivial to use. (However, my girlfriend did a fine job on her living room with one of the belt machines; it just requires care and patience.)
    – keshlam
    Nov 2, 2014 at 3:45
  • One caveat re refinishing: Do you know whether this is real hardwood or engineered flooring? If the latter, it can still be refinished some number of times but you need to be a lot more careful to sand off as little as possible. In fact, what you might want to look at is screening it rather than sanding it.
    – keshlam
    Nov 2, 2014 at 3:46
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    @wallyk: I've seen laminate I couldn't tell from solid wood close up, never mind in a photo at web resolution. I grant that I'm far from an expert, but I think the question was worth raising.
    – keshlam
    Nov 2, 2014 at 4:23

I suppose I should post the solution we eventually came up with.

We tried everything. Goo-gone. Soapy water. Various hardwood floor cleaners. Alcohol. Windex. Dry ice. Steam. Swiffer Wet Jet. Industrial Strength Adhesive Remover. None of these made the cleaning much easier, and even after hours of scraping and wiping, the foam still left nasty black stains on the floor that we couldn't get out.

In our desperation, my dad made what turned out to be a brilliant suggestion: Orange Goop

Orange Goop

It's an industrial-strength hand-cleaner, used by mechanics to get strong oils and grease off their hands.

It worked wonders getting the foam off the floor. We'd spritz some on a small patch of foam, wipe it around a bit, let it sit for five minutes, then the foam came off almost effortlessly, leaving no stains!

However, we were desperately worried the Orange Goop would ruin the floor's finish. We tested a patch and it looked okay several days later, so we did the entire floor in small patches, immediately waxing after each patch, as a precaution. However, we left an area unwaxed to test, and two years later that unwaxed patch still looks as good as the rest of the floor, so I don't think the waxing was necessary.

Hopefully this helps someone out in a similar situation!

  • 2
    This answer WORKED GREAT. I used another brand = FAST ORANGE, same type of hand cleaner. I also used a SWIFTER with DRY PADS to spread it and rub "it in". Apply with the grain and cross wipe the hard spots, then go back to with the grain. Wipe dry with an old bath towel, again with the grain. Your DAD's idea worked well.
    – user54972
    Jun 8, 2016 at 21:06
  • Is this the gritty soap? I would have thought that would have scratched the surface.
    – mikeazo
    Feb 9, 2017 at 13:26
  • @mikeazo: I think the grit is just sand - does sand normally scratch floors? We didn't scrub it vigorously, we just wiped it around a bit and the foam came loose. Feb 9, 2017 at 13:45
  • @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft, that is awesome it worked so well. I was doing the same thing a few months ago. Used some sort of orange scented cleaner similar to mineral spirits and a dish sponge. Took forever. Have some carpet covering hardwood that I still need to use. Will definitely give this a shot.
    – mikeazo
    Feb 9, 2017 at 13:49

I would try plastic taping knives such as these

plastic knife

If these are not sharp enough, I would move on to credit cards. Yes, credit cards (use the ones you got in the mail that you do not want). They are softer than metal, but have a fairly sharp edge.

If there is still stubborn residue, I would use a dull metal taping knife (or putty knife).

If there is remaining stickiness or oiliness, I would use a grease cutting cleaner like Fantastik. If that was in sufficient, I would move on to alcohol. Then mineral spirits.

Only if all these failed would I move on to sharp scrapers or sanding.

Yes, it is slow and tedious. But I have cleaned up a floor that looked just like that in a few hours and it came out beautifully (even if I was cranky, exhausted and far from beautiful).


Carbide tipped scrapers, pulled slowly, will remove the padding and leave the finish unmarked. Originally Sandvik (now Bahco), they are also available at Sears tool centers and Rockler.

I also use them for scraping off old paint drips when prepping walls for paint.

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Best answer.....use an arched back black scraper with a utility blade. Set it down on the floor and scrape with the grain of the wood. Do not dig or gouge. You will remove 90 % of the mess. Now the fun part. Clean rags, goof off type hand cleaner that is slightly abrasive. It will take the residue off almost instantly with just medium pressure. Work in a 2x2ft areA with the train. Then with a damp, not wet rag, go over the area to remove any residue. Slow and messy but good results. Also, if you have tack strips, don't pry them up, pull the nails with a small cats paw. A lot less scratching. Ron S


You need to get it nice and wet and use a plastic scraper to pop those off. I have used both soap and water, windex, and hardwood floor cleaners to do this. All work to varying degrees on different floors. Rubber scraper = plastic putty knife. Have one person squirt and another scrape. Once an area is wet for about 5-10 mins it usually comes right off - and of course you can not let the moisture sit in one area too long. If you use any metal scrapers you will have marks. I have done this on at least 5 floors.


Tried all of the above solutions on my problem...foam underpayment for area rug stuck to brick surfaces in foyer. None worked. None seemed to loosen the adherence of the foam padding residue, which was NOT glued down. I am lazy and was looking for an attack that required less work. Alcohol, 409, etc. would not work. Had some xylene in my shop and tried it. Xylene (product name at local Ace Hardware: xynol.). Worked like a dream. Bought half a gallon and got the whole area done in 15 minutes. I put the xylene down by dousing the floors, pouring it directly out of the can. Left it alone for 3-4 minutes, then got down with a tough bristled brush I use to clean automobile tires with and scrubbed lightly. Off the little dudes came...slick as a whistle. If using on wooden floors, try the xylene on the floor finish in an out of the way place before trying it on the problem area.

CAUTION: you do not want to breathe xylene. Serious stuff. I mounted a box fan in my nearest window and put cardboard all around the window so I did not get any short-circuiting of the outside air being drawn in. I then cracked a door 3" that lead to the rest of the house. When the box fan was running, the air was drawn from the cracked door, across the floor (my target) and out the window. Using a fan like this is important to do to stop the xylene from permeating the whole house. Then, I put on an organic vapor mask. If you are unable to do these two things, then use someone else's solution.

  • I'll double that CAUTION statement on the use of xylene. Along with the face mask, wear good, long-sleeved gloves. And you probably do NOT want to douse the floor; apply sparingly if at all possible. Mar 4, 2016 at 21:11

I just did this tonight. You don't have to wet the floor. Get a wooden paint stirrer and start scraping the floor. First go against the grain. Work in small areas. After scraping a few feet, use the side of the stick and scrape together a pile to vacuum up. Then keep repeating the process. What I can't figure out is how to get the stains out.

  • 2
    We ended up trying literally dozens of different products. The one that worked best was (surprising us all) Orange Goo hand cleaner. There was some concern about wiping away the finish, so we waxed it immediately afterwards. I think the concerns about the finish were unfounded though, almost a year later and the floor is still looking great! Jul 1, 2014 at 5:00

Looks like a pretty decent grade of wood flooring. Also it probably is a shellac finish. Something about the pad or maybe the shampoo used on the carpet caused the shellac to soften and fuse with the pad particles. You can use a similar chemical to soften the finish and release the pad. Shellac softens with several common materials. Ammonia is one but it is difficult to not have a sticky mess when you are done. You might try Johnsons or Briwax paste wax and a scrub brush. There is also the challenge of removing staples and tack strip without damaging the floor. Also the paste wax would inhibit any new coats of finish you might need from sticking evenly to the old shellac. So while the floor is close to being usable it is a resand away from being something really nice.


I had some. serious rubber from my rug got stock to my tiles in my kitchen I was worried as how I will get to remove it. The space was like 6ft×2ft I was thinking that's a lot of work and elbow grease however I slept and wake up with this on my mind since it look really nasty, my first thought PAM SPRAY so I spray the area and give it like 2mins and them I use a plastic spatula I was shocked at how easy the rubber came off no amount of work after which I use a scotch Brite washing sponge use the scouring part with some diswashing liquid give it a quick light scrub then mop up with some vinegar water, this did not take me ten(10) mind hope it can help someone too.


I decided to try undiluted Pine-sol with a toothbrush on a spot and it came up really fast and easy. I got a bucket with very hot water and applied the Pine-sol directly to the floor undiluted in just a few areas, used a mop to distribute it while scrubbing with the mop. Everything has come up off the floor. I plan to go over it again with my Bissell floor steamer mop, I think the heat helps. Plans are to refinish eventually.

  • My spots were tacky/gummy and would not just pop off with a scrapper.
    – Julia
    Nov 6, 2018 at 16:02

First is to run the vacuum cleaner over the area many times. Don't let the beater hit, but you do want the brushes to hit the floor. This will take a LOT of the big stuff off.

I tried almost every solvent known to man. My problem is that it either did nothing, or dissolved the carpet pad and the shellac.

I ended up using Windshield Washing Fluid (that also will remove ice/frost from the windshield). When I started losing patience, I would add up to 25% isopropyl alcohol. Spray on, and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then I Hand scrubbed with:

A. 4" Paint & Rust Remover Extra Coarse 1 Pack open-webbed, semi-flexible design of this wheel makes it easy to strip edges, contours and uneven surfaces without gouging (bought at the "Green-colored" store and saved Big Money)

B. Scotch-Brite

Don't fool yourself, this took a LOT of work = time.

I did not want to sand and put all the dust into the air. Nor, risk sanding off any stain that may be on the wood.

The only thing that would dissolve the carpet pad also dissolved the shellac. Before I liked polyurethane, but now I like shellac. I've had to scrub down to the bare wood in places, and to repair, I will probably open doors/windows for ventilation, then use a roller with straight alcohol to dissolve the patchy area and get it to even out. Then, put a second coat over the top. Great stuff to fix at a later date, plus if I understand correctly, it is natural, not poisionous.


I just had the same thing only mine was on particle board flooring.I scraped off what I could with a plastic putty knife and vacuumed up the bits and pieces. Try using warm water with dish soap to clean off the rest. If it left the wood splotchy when its all removed then you probably have to refinish anyway. Also try mineral spirits. Wash off with soap and water after the mineral spirits.


I had a similar situation and scraped with plastic putty knife, washed with dawn dish soap and goof off, and washed again with dawn dish soap. A lot came up, but the stains still appeared. A lot of time an effort went into this too - I'd suggest to sand it, stain it, and poly it. Save yourself the hassle and time.

  • We also did all that, and also had the nasty black stains. We eventually found a much easier solution than sanding/staining - I'm sorry I never posted it before today. Please see my answer below. Jul 24, 2015 at 22:25

I suggest, first use the Vacuum Cleaner. It helps to remove maximum foam from the floor. After that use scraper to pop those off and again second-time use Vacuum Cleaner. I hope it will help you. Thanks

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