How to Clean Subfloor After Removing Carpet

Renovating the home is an exciting but also labor-intensive process. This is especially true when changing your flooring. 

The lower layer of your flooring system is called the subfloor. And before recovering this crucial layer, you may need to clean it to provide a stable and flat surface for your new floor. But do you know how to clean the subfloor after removing the carpet?

Keep reading, and you will! We’ve included cleaning techniques and tips for the 3 most common types of subfloor materials, namely plywood, lumber, or concrete slab. 

What this article covers:

Why Is It Necessary To Clean A Subfloor After Removing The Carpet?

how to deep clean subfloor after carpet removal

When it comes to home improvements, some jobs are just trickier than others. So if you thought that how to get a stain out of a hardwood floor was your biggest concern, think again. Just wait until you decide to lift up your carpets!  

When you lift up a carpet, you might be unpleasantly surprised by the accumulation of dirt and dust underneath. Years of pet stains will have taken their toll, sleeping through carpets to the subfloor underneath. And you also have a layer of old adhesive to deal with.

For best results, you’ll want to remove old blobs of carpet adhesive on your subfloor, before laying down a new flooring material. If you remove this build-up of dirt and adhesive you’ll have a smooth and sterile surface for laying down your new flooring.

Removing black stains from hardwood floors and even removing water stains from wood will seem like easy tasks in comparison. But don’t worry, these techniques will help you clean your subfloor quickly and conveniently, like a professional.

How To Clean Subfloor After Removing Carpet

Sub-floors can be constructed from different materials, but the 3 most common are plywood, lumber, and concrete. These all have pros and cons, and these factors can influence how you clean them, too.

Plywood Subfloor

how to clean subfloor after carpet removal

Stressing about how to clean the subfloor after removing the carpet, when it’s plywood? There is a very simple yet effective method for removing haze from engineered hardwood floors

Besides water, all you’ll need is one ingredient that you likely have in your pantry - vinegar. Here’s what to do:

  • Mix one part of vinegar with one part of water. Moisten a cloth or mop with this vinegar/water solution. Then just scrub the haze away. 
  • Rinse any vinegar residue away afterward with a clean, damp cloth. Don’t worry about the strong vinegar smell. It will quickly dissipate if you leave the windows open.

Tips For Cleaning Plywood Subfloors After Removing Carpet

  • Because the wood veneer layers are arranged and glued with grains in opposing directions, the expansion and contraction to seasonal changes are not present. This is good news, as it means that water-based cleaning is also safer.
  • You can’t sand badly damaged plywood like you can with solid wood. The veneer layers will be worn through by sanding, reducing the evenness and stability of your subfloor.

Lumber Subfloor 

how to deep clean subfloor after removing carpet

There is a simple way of removing that sticky goop left behind when you take up the carpets. You can remove glue from hardwood flooring with the application of heat. Just do the following:

  • A steamer or heat gun or even a hair dryer can be pressed into service in a pinch. Don’t hold too close to the surface though, and wear gloves to prevent burning on the heated glue. 
  • Once the carpet adhesive has softened and loosened, simply scrape the loosened adhesive off the subfloor with a flat-edged scraper. 

Tips For Cleaning Lumber Subfloors After Removing Carpet

  • Because wood tends to swell, shrink, and ultimately warp, you need to exercise caution with water-based cleaning. And it’s not so easy to remove moisture from a hardwood floor, so avoid saturating it. 
  • A lumber subfloor is otherwise strong and resilient and can be sanded down to a smooth surface with less risk of damage. 
  • To strip and scrub clean the subfloor after removing the carpet, your best bet is the Orbot floor machine. This powerful floor cleaner will work on stone or wood, and can also be used to clean your carpeted and tiles areas.

cleaning up subfloor after carpet removal

Concrete Subfloor 

If you have a concrete subfloor, you’re in luck. Concrete subfloors are easy to clean, and you can safely rinse and scrub the subfloor without worrying too much about damaging it.

To master the art of concrete cleaning, use Concrete Master

subfloor cleaning tips after carpet removal

  • Use this liquid in a hot water extraction machine per dosage instructions on the bottle.
  • This revolutionary product is not just suitable for washing down a concrete subfloor. It is also ideal for cleaning masonry, tile, grout, and brick throughout your home. 

Tips For Cleaning Concrete Subfloors After Removing Carpet

Even though concrete can handle being washed down, it’s not impervious to water damage.

  • For best results, use a concrete sealer like Rob’s Solvent Sealer on your concrete subfloor before replacing your carpets. 

best way to clean subfloor after carpet removal

  • Just apply it to a clean concrete surface with a pump sprayer, or pour it onto the surface and spread it out with a mop like the Flat Mop Finish Applicator

how to prepare subfloor after removing carpet


Subfloors give stability to your floor surface and can be constructed from several different materials. Each of these has innate strengths and weaknesses. 

By understanding the materials your subfloors are made of, you’ll be better prepared to clean your subfloor after removing the carpet. And with our comprehensive range of floor cleaning detergents, tools, and accessories, you’ll do a great job no matter the size or type of floor.

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