How to Remove Deteriorated Rug’s Latex Backing Stuck on Hardwood Flooring

When updating or making improvements to your home, do you ever feel like you take three steps forward, only to take two steps back? You get a few things done and start to feel like you’re making some headway, while unbeknownst to you little gremlins are at work messing something else up. I tell ya, home ownership is not for weenies! Recently, I had hardwood flooring installed in my guest room. I had been wanting to do that for ages and I truly love how it turned out..

Hardwood Flooring for the Guest Room


About a month before I added hardwood flooring in the guest room, I was vacuuming in my bedroom and I lifted up the seagrass rug (as I often do) to vacuum underneath the edge. You may have noticed that rug in previous pictures that I’ve posted of this room.

Tartan Plaid Bedding With Plaid Bedskirt For High Bed


Here’s a photo from several years ago with a better view of the rug. I found the rug in either Bed, Bath and Beyond or Linens and Things–it’s been so long, I can’t remember which store now.

Master Bedroom with Sea Grass Rug and Summerton Bedding


Here’s a close-up of it from a previous post written back in 2008. It’s a seagrass rug and I loved the look of the rug, though it was never especially comfortable to walk on. It wasn’t painful to walk on, just not very soft underfoot.

Seagrass Rug with Deteriorating Rubber Backing


When I lifted the rug to vacuum, I got quite the shock. The latex or rubber backing of the rug was falling apart. The distressing part was that it was sticking to the hardwood flooring. 🙁 I took quite a few photos of the rug to share with you but I was unable to find them on my computer today. I must have accidentally deleted them. When the guys were here installing the hardwood flooring in the guest room, I asked them if they would help me remove the rug from under the bed. They did and this is how the floors looked in the “walking” path around the bed.

Damaged Hardwood Flooring from Latex or rubber backing on rug


You can see in this photo of the floor at the foot of the bed, how the rubber/latex backing that had broken down/rotted away on the back of the rug, only deteriorated in the areas where the rug received pressure from walking.

Rug left rubber or latex residue stuck to hardwood flooring


The rug also went up underneath the secretary that’s near the foot of the bed, so this is what I found once I moved the secretary to a new place in the room. It had also deteriorated under the feet of the secretary. I tried scraping it off with my fingernail and it was impossible. You could scrap off the tiny bits, but in most places, it was way too thick. It was like concrete stuck onto the floor!

Latex rubber stuck to hardwood flooring from deteriorating rug backing


I asked the hardwood flooring guys what I should do and they suggested mineral spirits. I questioned if that would be safe for the hardwood floor and they said yes, it would be fine as long as I didn’t leave it on there a long time. They said to wipe it on, then wipe it right back off, just don’t leave it on the floor too long. I tried it and it didn’t help at all, not even a little bit. The rubber backing didn’t budge.

Rubber latex backing of rug broken down and stuck to hardwood flooring


What to do next? I did what I always do, I went to Dr. Google. I Googled various phrases relating to the rubber backing of a rug breaking down and sticking to hardwood flooring and I came across a thread where several folks were talking about this problem. Apparently, it’s not that uncommon. Someone needs to sue these companies that are making rugs with backings that deteriorate and damage the flooring underneath! Grrrr!

In the forum, people were suggesting all kinds of things and the person asking for help was letting them know that none of their suggestions had worked. Finally, someone suggested denatured alcohol, and someone else mentioned having had good luck using that.

Rug left rubber or latex residue stuck to hardwood flooring


I drove to a Walmart Market that’s near my home and checked in the pharmacy for denatured alcohol but couldn’t find any. I asked the pharmacist and she wasn’t sure exactly what it was either. She Googled and from the description, we decided that it sounded like something you would buy in a hardware store. I headed over to the hardware store and found it there immediately. I purchased this kind: Klean Strip Denatured Alcohol.

Klean Strip Denatured Alcohol


I was a bit nervous at the thought of trying it on my hardwood flooring, but at this point, I didn’t have anything to lose. If I couldn’t get this stuck-on latex backing off the hardwood flooring, I was going to have to have the floor screened and re-polyed or maybe even refinished. Before I tried it, I asked the flooring guys who were still here installing the guest hardwood flooring, if they thought it would be okay. They said, yes. So with their approval, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. It’s kind of weird rubbing something on your hardwood flooring that says “clean-burning fuel” on the label!

Success! It did work and without that much scrubbing. I had to really work on the super thick chunks that had been left behind by the rug backing, but I was amazed at how well it worked. I was relieved to see that it didn’t appear to damage the finish of the floor at all. You can see a spot where I cleaned the floor in the photo below. (I had to leave the rag I was using in the photo to get my camera to focus on the mostly blank floor.) The area I cleaned is there just above the rag.

After Using Denatured Alcohol to Remove Rubber Rug Backing Stuck to Hardwood Flooring


As mentioned, the only place the rug’s backing deteriorated and stuck to the hardwood flooring is in the immediate path around the bed. Picture the path you walk around and around your bed when you’re making it up in the morning, that’s where the rubber backing stuff stuck to my hardwood flooring. I guess it broke down where there was repeated pressure over the years from walking. So far, I’ve cleaned the flooring down one side of the bed and about halfway across the foot of the bed. It was a lot of work and my arms/hands got tired, so I had to stop. I’ll go at it again this evening to remove the rest. Here’s how it’s looking so far.

After cleaning stuck on rubber or latex rug backing that was stuck to hardwood flooring


Once I’ve done all around the entire bed, I’ll go back and look for little pieces I may have missed. The first pass over the floor seems to get the majority of it and loosens up the part that’s left behind. So usually one more application gets the rest of the rubber bits and pieces off the floor. I’ve run my hands up underneath the bed and thankfully it’s fine under there.

How to remove rubber latex stuck to hardwood flooring


The only bad part, for now, is in just the right light, I can catch little shadows of where the backing was stuck down, like little smears atop the varnish or polyurethane. Do you see them there in the light in this photo below, the little smeared areas? I called A.L. Thomas, the flooring company I always use and trust, and asked what they would recommend. They told me to give it a little time and the shadows I’m seeing may eventually fade out–sometimes issues like that will correct themselves. I sure hope they’re right, that would be wonderful! So I’m going to wait, maybe give it a year or so. If the shadows are still there, I’ll have the floors rescreened or refinished in this room. They are barely noticeable now, so I don’t mind waiting a bit.

Shadows left on hardwood flooring from deteriorated latex backing on rug


My Advice

Never, ever use a rubber or latex-backed rug on your hardwood flooring! If you do (and I wouldn’t ever!) use one of those rug protector thingies underneath the rug. I still wouldn’t ever use a latex-backed rug again after this experience because I’d be afraid some of the latex would get through the rug protector underneath. It’s just not worth the risk!

The reason I didn’t use a rug protector under this rug was that I’ve always thought those were only needed where a rug could slip or slide. Since my rug was underneath a bed with no risk of it slipping or moving around, I didn’t think I needed anything underneath. I never expected the backing to fall apart like it did. And when it did, it went quickly. I have often lifted that rug up over the years to vacuum underneath, and it was always fine. Until it wasn’t. 🙁 Update: I had some questions about the tartan bedding, you can read more about it in this previous post: Tartan Bedding 

Williams-Sonoma Tartan Plaid Duvet


Go check under all your rugs if you have any rugs in your home with the rubber/latex backing. Better to catch it now before it has time to start rotting/deteriorating and ruining the floor underneath. I hope this post saves a few floors out there!

Williams-Sonoma Tartan Duvet and Tartan Bedskirt

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  1. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I will look under my rugs as soon as I get home. I have three area rugs, all with a separate foamy rug protector under them, but I’m going to check anyway. It’s good to know the product you found in the hardware store does the trick. I’ve never heard of it, but will file that away in case I need it. Thanks for all the wonderful hints, posts, pictures, and travel you share with your readers. I enjoy your blog so much! Have a great day!

    • Thanks so much, Libby! Hope all your rugs are behaving themselves. Several folks have recommended felt protectors under rugs, saying they are safer than the other kinds. So you may want to verify that the foam type is okay. I think that’s what I have under my entry rug and I’ll be looking closely at it next.

    • Sandy Morlan says

      I often get adhesive residue from the sliders on our chairs/furniture, as we also have wood floors. A simple application of a citrus solvent, such as “GOO GONE” or “GOO BE GONE,” purchased at Home Depot or other similar stores, will also remove gunk from wood and other finishes. I’m so happy you were able to remove the marks, Susan. Wood floors are a dear investment, for sure! 🙂 Thank you for your many blogs, as I always find them so helpful, inspiring and uplifting. Pretty soon, it will be Halloween… my favorite time of year!! Take care. ~ Sandy, Medina, Ohio

      • Goo Gone is it! I tried denatured alcohol on my oak floor — it had no noticeable effect on the latex, but it DID remove the floor finish.

        • Chris, it didn’t remove the finish on my hardwood flooring. I have the kind that’s installed raw and finished on site, with three coats of poly on top. It was the guys from the hardwood flooring company who were here adding hardwood flooring to my guest room who told me the denatured alcohol was fine to use, to just not leave it on there for a long time, as mentioned in the post. Did you leave it on the floor very long? Do you know how many coats of poly you have on your floors or if they are the prefininshed type? Glad to know you had success with Goo Gone.

  2. Wow good to know info. Hopefully those area’s that are smudged will just blend in or disappear over time.
    I would be bald from pulling my hair out if this happened to me.

    I know that this can happen on porcelain tiles too. I try not to buy any kind of rug with rubber backing even for the bathroom.

    • Thanks for that tip, Dee. Think I’ll just stay away from ALL rubber backed rugs from here out.

    • I have that problem on porcelain tiles in the bathroom. I thought it was because we live in a historical home with a tall crawlspace underneath. We also have humidity problems and have to run a dehumidifier all the time. Does anyone know if there a non-slip backing that won’t stick to the tiles?

  3. Chrystal says

    Great advice. I do know that if you wash small area rugs and take it out of the dryer hot and put it on a linoleum floor, that floor will yellow in time. It has to be completely cool before laying it back down. I have new wood floors going into my kitchen this summer. And I don’t know what rugs to lay over the kitchen sink area. Definitely do not want to damage these new wood floors.

  4. This is so helpful. I have a seagrass and a sisal rug and a floor guy said to always use felt rug pads. It’s been only 3 yrs, but so far, so good. I’ll keep checking, thanks to your warning. And a nod to your persistence and research skills 🙂

  5. Thank you Susan for your most informative piece. I immediately checked a rug at the inside entrance to my house from the garage. It is a large back foyer entry where I have a large dresser across from the door to place my keys and groceries upon entering from the garage and a medium sized desk and chair on the adjacent wall. I have an 8 x 10 faux oriental RUBBER back rug there to protect my hardwoods and I will admit that even though we have lived in this house for close to 2 years I had only vacuumed over the top of the rug.
    Sure enough, just like you stated there are tiny specks all along the natural walkway and under the bun feet of the hutch and under the feet of the desk and chair.
    So, it’s off to the hardware store for me tomorrow and a lot of hardwork to remove it before the upcoming holiday.
    Thank you, thank you fellow warrior!

    • Gwen, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this, too. Let me know how the denatured alcohol works. You may want to test it in a less noticeable spot like a corner or in a closet first just to make sure it doesn’t cause any problems with your flooring. I hope it works on your floor as well as it did mine. Again, sorry you have this issue, too. I definitely purchased my last latex-backed rug!

  6. Marilyn Clark says

    I had that happen on my bamboo floors. It is good to know what works as I still do not have all of it cleaned up. Like you said , it just happened suddenly . I had been moving it to clean and then bam one day there it was!

    • I know, so weird how it happens so suddenly. My rug was completly fine for years. I guess the latex stuff just wears out all at once.

  7. I don’t have any rugs with rubber backing. I usually use a good felt pad under my rug, first because they do protect your floors, and second they give added comfort under foot.
    That said, I am screaming at my screen, where did she get her bedding?? I absolutely love it. Please share!

    • I need to look for those felt pads! Thanks, Mary Anne! Are you talking about the tartan bedding? You can read all about it here: I should have linked to it in the post…I’ll do that now.

      • Mary Anne Looby says

        Yes I am talking about the Tartan. You can find felt padding at any carpet store, or in the rug, carpet area of home depot or Lowes. I am pretty sure they have it where you buy cut carpeting for wall to wall. I get mine from the people who clean my rugs. I always send them out to the same people. They do all my Karastan rugs.

        • That’s good to know. I don’t know if I’ll put a rug back. If I do, it definitely won’t be the same kind. I love wool rugs, have never had any problems with those.

  8. I had the same issues by using the rug protector “thingies” with two situations. One was under a runner in a hallway with hardwood, and the other was in the living room, also hardwood. Ugh. I thought I was protecting the floor, but instead, I was causing a bigger problem.

  9. I got so caught up in your bedding, I forgot to ask if anyone on the thread you were searching had tried goof off? That works great on things and does not damage the floor. Also, my husband always tells me to try lighter fluid when I have sticky situations. He has a goofy little saying which of course I forget now!

  10. BamaCarol says

    When we had hardwoods installed a few years ago throughout the entire house, the installers told us to not put any rugs on top of it for 6-9 months. In that time, we decided that we prefer to not have any rugs at all so I sold them and we have bare hardwoods. It certainly prevents the problems you experienced plus it is easier for us to clean the floors without the rugs in place. I love the way the floors look and now would not dream of covering them with a rug.

    • Edith Bice says

      @BamaCarol: Same here. My entire downstairs is hardwood and I don’t have a single area rug. I love the look and would not cover them. I think it makes cleaning easier too!

    • I’m enjoying the bare wood in there right now, certainly makes the room look bigger.

  11. Elizabeth Roderick says

    I bought a little house in the late 70’s. I decided it was put together with a caulk type gray matter that never hardened. The workers got it in the gold shag carpet. At that point I figured this was going to be like getting gum out of a kids hair. Snip snip! I asked what to do and they suggested denatured alcohol. It balled that gummy stuff up and it came right out. It didn’t harm or discolor the carpet fibers. Thanks for reminding me how well it works. I’m thrilled to know it works on hard wood.

  12. yikes, good psa! and glad you got it fixed!

  13. Wow, I would have never thought denatured alcohol could remove the disintegrated rubber without damaging the wood finish. It sounds like a miracle! Good job, Susan, you always have such good DIY advice. Stay safe and cool! XO

  14. Never been a fan of sisal or grass rugs. There are many issues with them, including comfort and cleanliness. The famous saying is, “your first sisal rug is always your last sisal rug.” Decorators know this, and usually stay away from them. Sorry you had to find out the hard way.

  15. SugarLandTX says

    The ‘rug protector thingies’ are also latex, so they’re not really a solution to the problem you experienced. We installed cork flooring in 2011 and did some research (we have hardwood floors also). We bought Latex-Free felt rug pads to protect the cork and hardwood and 5 years later, they’re doing a great job. Latex deteriorates. Whether it’s the rug backing, or a rug protector. Living in the Gulf Coast south, I think things deteriorate a little faster than elsewhere, with the heat + humidity. Latex-free felt rug pads aren’t readily available in stores – we ordered our online.

  16. Ugh! What a headache! I am happy you were able to find some sort of solution. I am hoping to put in hardwood floors in my cottage soon and this is good info for me to keep in mind.
    Best & Bisous,
    Michelle from Simply Santa Barbara

  17. Hardwood floors are not the only thing that rubber backings and pads can damage. We had carpet taken up in a home we purchased in Texas. The great room was quite large with kitchen and dining attached…26×28. There were soaring ceilings to 19 ft. The limestone stacked stone fireplace was on an outside wall and rose to 16 ft. with a large surround. We had a guy come out with a crew to install beautiful white washed large satillo tile in the entire space. A hallway leading to two bedrooms and a bath plus the entry were all done to match….this is a popular look for San Antonio. I purchased a large wool area rug for the space which the leather couch and loveseat were centered on. They insisted i purchase a nonslip latex mat for under the rug so i did. About a year later i moved all the furniture off the rug to clean thoroughly underneath…… got it…..the latex had become one with the floor and no amount of cleaning would remove it. I contacted the tile guys and the rug people…no help there……finally, i sucked it up and sadly removed the whitewash finish done to the red-orange tiles and resealed it…sob…..unbelievable job…took a couple of months of backbreaking cleaning to remove. Once finished, floor now another color and my hands raw from scrubbing even with gloves and my lungs never the same again…the room was restored. Ask me how much we really dislike rubber backings?…none under giant wool rug in current great room over wood floors…..rug stays in place just fine thank you very much…..never needed one!

    • Nancy, I’m so sorry you had to go through that. What a nightmare! It’s so infuriating when you do exactly as the “experts” tell you to do and then it turns out to be the wrong thing.

  18. Oh Susan,
    I think I’d have had a moment of shock seeing that. My hubby has been in the industry since the late 60s and I really wish we had thought to keep count of all the floors he’s installed…..hardwood, laminate, tile, stone. He has one hard rule. Never put anything beneath your rugs. When it comes to carpet (which is wall-to-wall as opposed to rugs) it’s always natural under natural, synthetic under synthetic. Why on earth would a manufacturer back a natural fiber with a synthetic? Anyway. If your rugs are in a room with heavy furniture there should be no need for backing to keep them in place. Our livingroom and diningroom rugs (one 8×10′ oriental and one 11×15′ federal) are both wool and neither have anything beneath them. They don’t need it for cushioning and wool is the strongest fiber for wearing well. For small rugs (the kind you pick up and shake outside or toss in the washer) I use the large mesh backing that you buy in a package in the department stores. Long time ago I did try a spray adhesive in the bathrooms but cleaning that off the tile was more trouble than it was worth. The rubbery mesh is always lifted with the rugs and none of them are in direct sun which would really heat them up here in the Sunshine State. You’re wise to give your floor time to recover. And it’s sooooo much work to do a bedroom again!

  19. A friend of mine was having a wedding at her house and removed all of the furniture and rugs from her room, only to find the same situation with the rubber on her floors. We used WD40 on it and it worked with no issues.

  20. Little Bitty Damn Houze says

    So glad you found a solution. I was never a fan of those sea grass rugs and all their hype. Your bedroom looks better with out it!

  21. Susan,
    I had the same thing happen to my hardwood floors, except it was a rug pad itself that came apart and stuck to the floors. It was a very expensive rug pad made by Shaw and it really did a number on my dining room floors.

  22. Susan, I’m glad you’ve had success removing the bits off the floor, but really sorry that you had to deal with all of this. Not what you wanted to spend your time and energy on. Like Mary L above, we’ve had rung pads leave residue on both hardwood and tile floors. It’s a mess to try to remove. Your floors look beautiful.

  23. Marty W. says

    I use Krud Kutter to get sticky stuff off my laminate floors. I don’t know if it is safe for wood but it is great for getting the remnants of those felt chair leg pads off the floor. Or sticky stuff out of clothing. Just a thought.

  24. Margaret says

    Hi — Have orientals through-out our upstairs and in the guest bedroom downstairs (all hardwood floors). Have also had one of the separate foam rug pad fall apart in one particular place that was very small. Otherwise, not a problem. We had them in our other houses as well.

    Wondering if it’s the type of foam because the newer ones seem better structured. What we did find was that a combo of felt and rubber was the best – for us and for the rugs. There is no stickiness – nothing ever on the floors and they keep the rugs (especially runners) right where they should stay.

    Feel badly for you, but you found this out and are in the process of correcting – isn’t being a HO a pain sometimes!

  25. Raefjuell says

    I found out the same thing happened to me
    – what I did find out is these carpets are made in China/ the cheap kind and they will rot underfoot.
    If you buy a nice sisal or Seagrass rugs, the ones made from Belgium – the rubber does not deteriorate.
    You should also put a thick rug pad- the expensive kind from a cig company not the rubber kind…( same thing will happen to those)

  26. Bunny Rogers says

    Very Timely information. We are building a new ranch home and putting 100% hardwood throughout. So I’ve been looking at area rugs for main living areas. Now I know not to get those latex floor protectors or rubber backed area rugs, even for the laundry rooms or halls. Thanks and so glad you found a solution to your problems.

  27. Thanks Susan Very good information. My grandson wrote on my hardwood floor with a permanent marker. I put olive oil on it and it came off. I now keep a good bottle of olive oil and a lesser brand for clean ups. When you are searching for a product go to he and you can usually find it. Different names for products are used in different parts of the country. We will all be looking under our rugs tonight.

  28. Penny Meade says

    What color of paint did you use in bedroom?

  29. scatter rugs with latex backing will also discolor a vinyl floor. do not use rubber mats on vinyl either. they are usually sold for standing for long periods of time in the kitchen but they will really ruin the color in your tile.

  30. Elena M. says

    Many years ago, I put a clear plastic desk protector on my new wooden desk, only to discover when I lifted it to clean underneath that the finish on the wood discolored. It ruined it, instead of protecting it. I still have the desk to this day, and I’ve never been able to repair it, it would have to be sanded down and refinished, a big job the Mr. (nor I) is willing to take on. I guess plastic/rubber/foam are all bad stuff to put on wood!!

  31. Hi Susan, I love the look of sea grass and sisal rugs. Do you have any suggestions for a rug that looks like one but is softer and more easily cleaned? I would love some suggestions! Thanks!

  32. bobbi duncan says

    Susan, I know your heart just dropped when you saw that! I had a small rug at the front door that we affixed rubber non-slip strips to. The rubber crumbled before it could ever destroy our wood flooring, thank goodness. For our area rugs, we always use a felt-like thick material, so you might want to go with that. I know what you mean when you say home ownership is not for weenies lol! There is so much going on at my house, with all the redecorating and such, that I sometimes just want to run away…but, then, nothing will get done. Ah, wasn’t it great to be a kid.

  33. Cyndi Raines says

    The school of hard knocks is not a fun way to learn!! Thanks for sharing your experience and solution! We all really appreciate the good information you pass on to us Susan. Try to get at least a 1/2 day of rest! 🙂

  34. Sandi Lee says

    Denatured alcohol is what my mother used in all her silver chafing dishes. The old ones came with a silver burner that had a wick and sometimes a handle so you could regulate the flame. I never knew it could be used for anything else. She always kept a bottle on hand for this purpose. I think the new ones use sterno but all of mine use the denatured alcohol. It doesn’t smoke. Thank you for this info and sorry about the mess you have on your floor.

  35. Diann Patterson says

    I have hard wood floors all over my home. I have experienced similar issues with the backing of area rugs and the residue left from double sided carpet tape to make my carpet runners stay put in my back entrance hall. GOO GONE worked great. I buy it by the gallon at Ace Hardware. The stuff is amazing and removes almost anything sticky and gummy. I also have used a professional liquid wax remover sold at Sam’s Club. The secret as to not soften or damage the finish on your floor is not to leave it on to long. I have used theses products for years and they have always worked for me. Goo Gone can be purchased at the Dollar Tree in a small bottle if you want to try it before buying a much larger size. I keep the stuff around constantly for removing everything from sticker residue to black marks on my wood work.

  36. Oh my, how sickening!! Thanks for sharing these tips with us so we won’t make the same mistake! Who would have ever guessed!

  37. Wow! I can not believe your incredible posting because I live in NYC and recently discovered my beautiful sisal area rugs were rotted and 2 of my rooms look exactly the same as your pictures. I have scrubbed and picked and scrubbed and tried all sorts of cleaners. This morning en route to work Im stopping to by the denatured alcohol. Sorry for your mishap but so excited you’ve shared this 🙂 Ill let you know how it works on my floors.

  38. Patricia says

    Wow! What a timely post. I have been thinking about a natural fiber rug for my beach home. Would hate to gunk up my hardwood floors with that backing. BTW we have used denatured alchohol to ‘rub out’ small scratches on our floors. Works perfectly.

  39. So sorry you went through all that aggravation. :’ (
    In my past life as a New Construction Super- we always STRONGLY advised against rubber-backed ANYthings on the floor–it does like to mess with the finish. AND, chairs with wheels on hardwoods–baaaad combo too! Then when they went against the advise- of course the damages were all our fault!
    Btw- GooGone also works pretty good-

    • Thanks, Catherine! Yeah, that was definitely good advice. I just purchased some Goo-gone to use for removing label glue stuck on bottles.

  40. What did we do before “Dr. Google”. I had to smile, because I say the same thing all the time. Just ask Dr. Google!

  41. Thank you for sharing this. I’m going to go look under my rugs now…

  42. Excellent info! I too had a seagrass rug and noticed the back mating decomposing. Too much work to keep up with it so I rolled the rug up – it’s now sitting in my basement. Oh well. Looking for a different use for it. Great tip on how to fix! Thank you!

  43. We just pulled our antique dining room table out of storage, where my husband, thinking he was doing a good job protecting it, put a rug pad on top of it, then stacked boxes on top. Un-airconditiond warehouse. South Alabama. Humidity. Needless to say . . . my table top looks like your floor. I’m wondering if your solution would help. Thanks for the tips and glad your floors are looking good again.

  44. I had the same exact rug on the tile floor in my sunroom and the same thing happened. Thanks so much for the denatured alcohol suggestion…can’t wait to give it a try. Nothing else has worked and that floor has been bothering me since last summer!

  45. Susan just a thought, but you might try Mr. Clean magic eraser cleaning pad. I really haven’t had this problem but have used them on other items and it did not damage the finish.

  46. linda d townsend says

    I had this happen with the non-skid mat that I put under a rug. LATEX is awful especially here in the hot, humid south. I am surprised that a pharmacist doesn’t know about denatured alcohol. Thank you for this entry. You have given me so many good ideas. I really appreciate it. Linda

  47. In my lake house I had little kitchen rugs in front of the sink and stove. They had some type of rubbery backing to help them from sliding on my vinyl floor. A time came when we didn’t visit the lake house for almost a year. When I moved the rugs to mop there was a stain the size and shape of the rug, almost like the rest of the flooring had faded, but that wasn’t it. Never did figure out why but had to put new flooring in when we sold the place.

  48. What a releif to have a good solution that WORKED!!

  49. Susan, sorry to learn of your hardwood flooring woes but am glad that the problem was solved. Notice that Linda above mentions foam backed rugs staining her kitchen vinyl and the similar thing happened to my daughter’s hardwood flooring when using the foam-interlocking mats that are often used to create a play area when one has very young children. Long story short; they discoloured her flooring to the point it called for refinishing of it where they had been. -Brenda-


    • Ooops, that should have read; “Notice that Ann C above mentions …..” – Brenda-

    • Wow, never dreamed those could cause that. I think my dil has one of those down in a spot in her living room. Will let her know. Thanks, Brenda!

  50. Good story to share. I took my chances and never put one under my dining table rug and it’s been fine since it’s secured by the furniture. I remember when those waffle weave floor protectors hit the market and they were guaranteeing they wouldn’t rot or fall apart. They lied!!

    • They did! I just removed the protector I had under my entry rug, don’t trust that it won’t start falling apart eventually, although so far it was holding up okay. Still didn’t trust it after this experience!

  51. I was so happy to come across your post when I searched: “my sea grass rug deteriorated ” just now! I will run out and buy the denatured alcohol tomorrow. My situation was slightly different tho, since it was truly the seagrass which turned to powder (although you’d never know by looking at it from above!!) I had a felt on top/rubber on bottom pad underneath, and since the pad was slightly smaller than the rug, only the edges not protected by the pad damaged my floor… goo gone did not help at all:( I am thankful I HAD the pad tho.. I can’t imagine the floor if not.

    I love love seagrass and am tempted to buy another .. but increase the size of my pad this time… so not sure… floor looks naked now!

    • Meg, so glad this helped. Just to be on the safe side, when you use the denatured alcohol, do a little test spot in a corner or closet to make sure you don’t have any issues. My hardwood flooring is the type that’s put in unfinished, then sanded, stained and polyurethaned on site. So it’s not the prefinished type and it’s not laminate. I’m not sure what type floor you have but just test the denatured alcohol in an inconspicuous spot first to make sure it works fine on your floor like it did on mine. 🙂

  52. Hi Susan, your blog always lifts me up; thanks so much for keeping it going!

    We have wood laminate in a lot of rooms — Crater Lake Oak, it’s pretty and easy to maintain. Whenever I put down an area rug, I buy some sewing flannel (preferably white, no pattern) and cut/sew a piece to fit just about to the edge, and lay it out under the rug, wrong side facing the floor. If the rug is large, you can attach it directly to the rug, along the sides, with some painter’s or masking tape so it won’t bunch up underneath.

    I put the wrong side facing the floor because it has less of a nap, which I’m afraid might mar the floor surface.

    This has worked well for me. An inexpensive solution.

    Thanks for the denatured alcohol tip — the flooring guys left some goo on the last installation which has been difficult to remove. I’ll try it on a corner spot.

    Happy summer, Susan!

  53. Ha. My problem is with the protecting mat. My floor is ruined as the floor is darker where the mat was, and it’s never faded away in the two years I removed both the rug and the mat.

    • Ellen I know if the sun shines in through windows, it will often fade the flooring and the only thing that doesn’t fade is the area covered up by a rug. When I used to work with a plantation shutter company, I would go out on appointments for them to give estimates for plantation shutters. Some customers were getting shutters because the sun had destroyed the finish on their hardwood flooring. The sun’s rays can really fade and damage furniture and flooring. Do you get a lot of sun in that room? Do you think the sun faded the flooring around the rug and that’s why it’s darker under the mat? If that’s not the case, then it must be the mat that caused it to darken. I had no idea mats would do that. 🙁

      • Yes, we do get a lot of light in that room but we removed the rug over two years ago and the lines of demarcation have never gone away. I would’ve thought by now things would even out as the sit moves pretty evenly through the room throughout the day. 🙁

        • I think you’re right that areas can darken under a rug. I remember seeing a photo once where there was a really dark area in a kitchen in front of the sink where a small rug had once been, and the sun didn’t shine on that floor at all. So the rug created the dark area all by itself somehow. Maybe it can react with the polyurethane.

  54. Great post! Yes, you need a pad under sea grass. The latex on the back is to stabilize the rug fibers, not protect the floor. The salesperson who sold it to you should have insisted you put a pad under it. Rug pads also extend the life of a rug by keeping grit and dust from filtering through and grinding away at rug fibers from behind, so ideally you should use them everywhere. I’m happy to hear that denatured alcohol works, that’s a tip I can use when folks ask me what to do!

  55. Lyn Arnberg says

    I’m so glad I ran across your post today. When we cleaned out my mother-in-law’s house, we found that a rug pad had deteriorated and stuck to the hard wood floor in her livingroom. My daughter moved in and we just threw down a new rug. Now I know how to clean it!
    But it makes me think that you need to check on your pads and replace them if every now and then.
    This also happened with a plastic “lace” tablecloth on her dining room table. It was stuck and ruined the finish of the table top.

    • Oh, no…never thought about one of those type tablecloths doing that. I know it makes you sick to find something like that. Hope this helps with the stuck-on rug issue. It worked great on my hardwood flooring but you should probably do a test spot in a corner or closet just to make sure it works fine on your daughter’s floors, too.

  56. Bonnie Jackson says

    Hi I have a 65 year old house that had carpet over all the hardwood. The padding stuck to the floor like glue in places. Thanks for offering a solution. The denatured alcohol can be purchased at any home improvement store, in the paint section.

  57. Karen Wilson says

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have an oval area rug in my spare bedroom. I lifted it up the other day, what a MESS!! I think there’s more rubber backing stuck to my floor than on the rug. So, that’s the next project. By the way, found you on Google!! Thanks again.

    • Such an awful feeling when you find that, I know. Best of luck getting it off, Karen…hope this works for your floors, too! Oh, and thanks for letting me know how you found this post. Glad to hear Google is sharing it. 🙂

  58. Kevin Underell says

    Thank you SOOO much! This worked like a charm.

  59. Thanks for posting. I had a small rug in front of my sink in the kitchen and had one of those non-slip pads under it. I had done this for years under every mat I’ve had but last fall I was cleaning and discovered it sticking. Pulled the thing up and was shocked at all the residue that remained. I am finally getting around to researching ways to clean it because nothing I’ve tried has worked. Hopefully I will have success with your solution.

    • Hope it works, Terry. You may want to do a small test in a corner or closet before using it, just to make sure it doesn’t harm your floor. It worked great on my hardwood flooring.

  60. Iain Carslaw says

    We had the same problem with rubber specks (like concrete) on our flagstones. The product worked really well – we found that painting a liberal amount of the alcohol onto the areas, leaving for about 1 minute and then rubbing really hard with a cloth did the job. If necessary repeat for stubborn spots. Thank you for your advice.

  61. Susan – thank you for sharing your knowledge. Your post is helpful as I have encountered the same issue with a sisal runner with a latex backing that turned to dust after years of use. In dry, dry, dry Colorado, the backing left no sticky residue but appears to have yellowed the hardwood. I tried cleaning a small section with denatured alcohol but no luck. Will keep trying to find a remedy and report back if successful. Thanks again for your advice!

    • Sorry that happened, Wende! I’ll never trust a rug with that latex backing again after my experience. Hope you’re able to find a solution.

  62. Jennifer says

    I have the same problem with two rugs I purchased from Pottery Barn . They left a complete mess underneath. Gritty residue and patches where it wouldn’t come up. Thank you for helping me feel better that it can come off . I will never buy rugs like that again .

  63. Did you dilute the denatured alcohol before applying to your floor?

    • No, I didn’t. Another person mentioned they used Goo Gone. I haven’t tried that, just went with the denatured alcohol since my flooring guys said it was fine to use as long as you didn’t leave it on the floor very long. I wiped it on, then wiped it right back off.

  64. Great suggestion! I just got home with a jug of white vinegar and some pine-sol, but am wondering if it’ll be worth the effort. Glad to have this tip in my pocket!
    Would like to know if anyone has suggestions for a felt (?) or other carpet pad…anyone found a good seller? We love our natural fiber rugs, but we just got two new ones with the diabolical backing (now we know!!). Want to avoid the future mess…thanks in advance!

  65. I have 2 sisal rugs (DR and Den). I have the same problem as all of you, but now it is deteriorating into sawdust.
    I had a decorator place the order for these custom rugs (w/leather binding) and I can’t believe this has happened.
    Thanks for everyone’s comments.

  66. I used a rug protector and after a while it stuck to my hardwood and did the same thing. Not sure why rugs/rug protectors don’t have something to prevent this problem.

  67. So glad I found this post from 2 years ago. I had placed those perforated non-skid mats on top of our platform bed (Pottery Barn), underneath the mattress, to keep it from sliding when we changed the sheets. New mattress this week, and YUCK, the non-skid mat had started dissolving the paint on the platform bed, raising exactly those little little sticky dimples in the paint that you saw. Have tried rubbing alcohol (90%), Goo Gone, and Magic Eraser, and I can see it will take hours of hard labor to clean that off. Thought I would add this note: years ago, I bought some nice Thomasville cherry furniture. In the care instructions, it specifically warned against placing vinyl on the finish, since the chemistry of the vinyl could harm the finish. Examples they gave included books with shiny book jackets, and non-skid pads under decorative glass. Bottom line, while the vinyl on the backs of rugs may be cheap and more volatile than some others, I think it is safe to assume that it is the combination of any vinyl with any shiny furniture coating that is the problem.

  68. Be aware that some of the cushions you put under rugs are far worse to your floor then that rubber latex backing of that rug! I’ve read horror stories of them leaving an entire sheet of the rubbery stuff stuck to the entire place under the carpet. Apparently-the solution is do not put carpet on any floor that doesn’t need one. (Deteriorated or stained floors, old floors or sub floors). Thanks for the post, I knew that this happened ahead of time but was looking for removal ideas 🙂

  69. Thank you! I have the same exact rug under our dining room table and, in the process of getting the house ready to sell, removed the rug to find the same issue. You saved me a lot of stress and work.

  70. Rikki Abrams says

    Thanks for the info on rugs and hardwood floors. However, I hate to tell you I used a “rug pad” and it deteriorated and stuck to my wood floors as well! So now I’m lost!

  71. We recently removed our carpeting in our living room, and what a mess! We have tried Goo Gone, vinegar, a steam machine, Awesome (from the Dollar Store which usually works on almost anything), Dawn, etc., but the steam machine and a plastic spatula, with a lot of elbow grease, worked the best. The next on the list will be the denatured alcohol — sure hope it’s easier — we have two bedrooms with the same problem. I can not understand why the store does not alert you to this problem. Thanks for all you info.

  72. Hi. I used some denatured alcohol and yes, it worked! It removed that nasty latex residue. I used it on laminate and it seems to have left a film, streaks. I used the alcohol straight and didn’t rinse the area I treated. Any idea how to remove the film?

    • Ummm, I don’t have laminate floors, so not sure. You may want to call a local flooring store that sells laminate to see what they could suggest. I hope you can find a solution, Anita…hopefully they will have a good suggestion.

  73. Thank you so much for sharing this experience. I will be heading to the hardware store today! My bathroom floor & I thank you.

  74. Eileen O'Connor says

    Well, had a large area rug in the livingroom to decrease noise from grandkids. The powder, the stuck backing, what a mess.
    Looked into the cupboard and used Murphy’s Oil Soap. (Spray bottle)
    Scraped off as much dry backing as possible and then soaked with the spray.
    It worked. Some took more elbow grease than others, but what a difference and Murphy’s is made for wood.
    I highly recommend it!

  75. Shari Bradley says

    I just read through your information for the 2nd time. I am off to work on my rental house’s floor. Actually my husband tried this first and the rubber became so soft he couldn’t seem to remove it. So he has actually sanded (light grit) with his electric sander to get much of it off. Now I am going to (I hope) not mind if the remnants get soft and I am hoping for the best. I can even re-comment if it works. I know this is a few years old, but I was still so happy to find your advice.

  76. I just finished cleaning the latex backing from a long runner off my kitchen tiles. I used my fave go-to Awesome cleaner and a wet, very wet, Swiffer mop. I sprayed it and just let it set a minute or two and did it twice. Worked great with little effort. I love that stuff.

  77. Michael G Myhera says

    I have had this problem multiple times. I simply spray enough Bona on it to saturate it and leave it in a shallow little pool (only 1-2 mm or 1/16″ deep) for about 30-60 seconds. After that you can just wipe it away with a paper towel and the Bona is actually good for your wood floor. It actually leaves a good smell. If you have a bit that doesn’t just wipe away it is harmless to gently scrape a little with a thumb or finger nail.

  78. Michael G Myhera says

    If anyone could suggest a good way to easily remove the deteriorated foam rubber from the back of the rug itself, I would be very grateful!

  79. We just had our hardwood floors redone and were told to only use natural fiber rugs like wool or cotton. We were also told to use natural rubber or all felt pads underneath. It is not easy to find non-latex backed rugs for kitchens and bathrooms!

  80. We had a rug in front of our kitchen sink that had a deteriorating rubber backing. We were in the process of looking for a replacement and then our sink plumbing developed a leak and the old pad got cemented to the floor. We could not get it up. My wife found your post and gave it a try and it worked! She had to let it soak on the worst spots and use some elbow grease, but now the floor looks fine. So thank you (and thank my wife for doing the work). I have put your site in my favorites and look forward visiting again.

  81. Deborah Yaffe says

    Thank you so much for this post! I had a terrible problem with a rug backing sticking to a hardwood floor (much worse than in your photos, LOL) and wasn’t sure what to do. Googled, found you, and as per your suggestion, denatured alcohol worked like a charm. I really appreciate the tip!

  82. Amy Smith says

    Susan, you may very well have helped me to keep my sister from going off the deep end! Her house was damaged in a horrible storm and is unsafe for anyone to live there. She is extremely grateful to have found a temporary rental, but the previous owner lived there for over 30 years AND smoked!! She has spent so much time and effort cleaning the wood floors and EVERYTHING, trying to get rid of the smell. She found a deteriorated rubber mat stuck to the floor yesterday and spent all day with very little progress. The square outline is right inside the front door, and there is more backing stuck to the floor within that square than there is wood floor showing. I will be on her doorstep in a few hours with denatured alcohol in one hand and Goo Gone in the other! Thank you!!!

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your sister’s home being damaged in a storm…how scary! I hope you have success with the denatured alcohol. It took a couple of applications to get it all off where my rug had been stuck, but it def worked. Good luck and I hope your sister’s home is repaired where she can move back soon!

  83. Don’t use the non skid rug grip on your hardwood floors I’ve just spent two hours trying to remove it I googled it and it suggested Murphy’s Oil Soap and gently scrape with a plastic scrapper it’s finally gone I’m thinking maybe I don’t need anything but a rag rug the kind my Grandma used.

  84. Thanks! Just an FYi – my grandpup had a p p accident on a large 5×8 carpet with an underlayment protector, under the kitchen table. Imagine our horror when picking up the carpet to see the underlayment stuck to our gorgeous hard wood floor, leaving thousands of rubber dots all over! So even those are cautionary to use! We will try the Goo Gone as I saw posted below. That product is pretty natural and works on so many sticky problems!

  85. What about the safety of rubber backed rugs? No one mentioned it and I would like to know if that rubber “dust” is safe to inhale or to walk on, for pets too. My kitchen and bathroom mats accumulate some dust under them and most of it is from the rubber backing. If I swipe my hand on the backing of these mats, the rubber dust comes off on my hands – they are like tiny dots of rubber. I guess you can call it flaking but certainly not in big pieces.

    Can’t find anything on the net about this. It could be hazardous to our lungs.

  86. Andrew Oltman says

    I feel your pain, as I had the same thing happen in my entryway. I wish I could share my photo.

    I used regular isopropyl alcohol 70%, and it just melts the rubber away. I had this happen before and used everything under the sun, except alcohol.

    I agree with you, the companies that manufacture this junk should be sued!

    • Glad you were able to remove it, Andrew! Yeah, they should not even be allowed to use that horrible backing…no telling how many floors have been ruined by it.

  87. Mary Schillinger says

    I really appreciated this writing. I recently discovered that my rubber padding had likewise done similar damage to my floor due to a latex mat. I was at a complete loss as to what to do. I tried a number of items – 0000 Steel Wool, Windex, Steamer, Murphy’s Oil Soap, Weiman’s Floor Clearner. I was not getting any good results. A month passed by and then I googled the embedded latex flooring issue again. This time your column came up. I could not believe the similarities. I ran to the nearest Hardware Store and purchased the Klean Strip Denatured Alcohol product. The embedded latex came up. OMG !! You have saved me countless hours of experimenting. Also, I loved all the details and the pictures. I have now become a subscriber to your column! By the way, I love the look of all your rooms.

    • Thanks so much, Mary! I’m so sorry you had to go through that nightmare, too! So glad the denatured alcohol worked on your floor, too–that’s awesome! I’m sure neither of us will ever buy another latex-backed rug in the future!

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