Cleaning Methods for Every Floor Type

Rochel Maday
Written by Rochel Maday
Reviewed by Asya Biddle
Updated November 19, 2021
A bright clean living room with a courtyard view
Photo: JulieanneBirch / E+ / Getty Images

Dirty floor surfaces are no match for these tried-and-true cleaning tips

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Even if you love the change of seasons, muddy boots and paw prints all over the house are no way to enjoy it. Every type of flooring has different cleaning requirements, so caring for them in the right way is essential. Here's how to clean nine common types of flooring and keep those high-traffic areas spotless.

Vacuum Ceramic Flooring

Ceramic flooring is durable but requires regular cleaning. Otherwise, debris can scratch both the tile and grout. 

To clean ceramic tile, start by sweeping or vacuuming away dust and debris. Or better yet, “utilize the hard floor setting on your vacuum, which is more efficient than sweeping the floor with a broom,” says Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dust Busters janitorial company in Williamsport, PA. “The broom can spread the dirt and debris around and leave some behind, whereas the hard floor setting on the vacuum will suck up the dirt and debris and have attachments for hard-to-reach places." 

Then, dilute a mild detergent with hot water and apply with a rag, working in small sections at a time. Avoid using a mop because it can push dirt deeper into the grout and lead to staining. An electric floor polisher is also an option if your ceramic flooring is looking a bit dull. 

To clean the grout, create a paste with baking soda and water and scrub it into the grout with a toothbrush. If your tile is stained, blotting with hydrogen peroxide can help pull away discoloration.

Mop Concrete Floors

Concrete isn’t just for outdoor living. When properly sealed, concrete can create a non-porous and stain-resistant flooring for indoor spaces as well. 

To keep concrete floors clean, remove debris with a broom or vacuum. Then, mop with a pH-neutral solution and rinse. You can wipe the floors dry or allow them to air dry. Just make sure to avoid any highly acidic cleaning solutions, like vinegar, bleach, ammonia, or pine.

Preserve Antique Flagstone Floors

Cleaning flagstone flooring is a delicate task, especially with aged flooring. Imperfections in the stone give it character and natural beauty, and soaking flagstone flooring or using too harsh of a cleaner can quickly ruin them. Always test your cleaning method in a small, inconspicuous area before using it on flagstone floors. 

If your flagstone flooring is unsealed, sweep away debris with a soft brush. Avoid running a vacuum over the area as the wheels can scratch or damage the flooring. Using a sponge, clean the floors with a water-based solution, using as little liquid as possible. “It’s important to note that when mopping flagstone flooring, do not use an abrasive solution as it may degrade the flagstone or leave behind a film,” says Biddle.

If your flagstone floors are sealed, you have a bit more freedom to clean as you wish. Vacuums are safe to use but avoid harsh scrubbing. This can remove the protective seal.

Rinse Linoleum Flooring

Linoleum is an affordable and durable flooring choice. It’s also naturally antibacterial and resistant to mold and mildew. 

To maintain linoleum, dust-mop regularly. You’ll likely need to mop with a diluted mild cleaner about once a week. Work in small sections, rinsing away any residual product as you go. Always wipe linoleum flooring dry. Moisture and acidic cleaners are dangerous for this flooring type. To increase the lifespan of your linoleum flooring, try applying floor polish about once a month.

Clean Marble Tile Naturally

A man mopping a marble floor
Photo: Edwin Tan / E+ / Getty Images

Marble is a glamorous floor choice, but it is porous. This means it can be easily damaged if you don’t properly care for and clean it. 

Always use a dry mop instead of a broom. If you choose to vacuum, be aware of rubber wheels that can scratch and damage the floor. No heavy-duty products are needed to clean marble floors. Instead, mix hot distilled water with a bit of pH-neutral detergent and mop with short strokes in small sections. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean rag immediately; leaving marble floors to air dry can lead to staining.

Mop Vinyl Flooring as Needed

Vinyl flooring is a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms. They’re also easy to keep clean.

First, dust mop to remove debris. Vacuums are safe as well, as long as they’re on a floor setting. You can mop vinyl flooring but only as needed. While it’s water-resistant, it’s not waterproof. Mop with a gentle detergent and rinse. Dry with a rag to prevent streaks. 

Skip the steam mop as this can warp or bubble vinyl flooring.

Sweep Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood floors are a classical flooring choice that many homeowners love, and they can hold up for years when properly cared for. The first step in cleaning hardwood flooring is to brush away debris with a broom. You can use a vacuum but make sure it has a hardwood floor setting. 

When it comes to mopping, hardwood floors should never be saturated, so it’s important to clean with as little liquid as possible. Use a mild cleaner of your choice to sanitize and rinse with clean water to avoid product build-up. Wipe clean with a dry towel to minimize streaks and potential damage.

Protect Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile can be cleaned like other types of tiles mentioned above. First, carefully brush or vacuum away debris using an attachment with a soft brush. Then, follow with a mild cleaner. 

Protecting porcelain tile involves avoiding several types of products. For example, oil-based detergents, wax cleaners, and products containing ammonia or bleach are all dangerous for porcelain. Scrub brushes and steel wool are also products to avoid. Finally, never use a cleaner with dye or coloring on unglazed porcelain.

Refresh Carpet

Keeping your carpet clean requires more than a daily pass with a vacuum. You’ll also want to make sure you periodically give it a deep clean. While you can rent or buy a commercial carpet cleaning machine, there’s an easier way if you want to take the DIY approach. Here’s how:

  1. Sprinkle your carpet with baking soda to remove odor and loose debris.

  2. Mix a couple drops of carpet shampoo with warm water in a spray bottle.

  3. Lightly spray the carpet.

  4. Brush the surface with a carpet brush.

  5. Then, blot the surface with a towel.

  6. Spray clean water with a spray bottle over the surface.

  7. Again, blot with a towel.

“The number one piece of advice that can be given when refreshing your carpet as a homeowner is to make sure you vacuum up any and all solution or powder you have utilized on the carpet fibers. Otherwise, damage may be caused or the solution may act as base for mold and bacteria to grow on,” says Biddle.

With regular cleaning and maintenance, you can keep your floors looking great for years to come. Always make sure to consult your floor manufacturer guide, if possible, and spot-test cleaning solutions before applying to the whole floor. Remember, professional floor cleaning help is always an option when developing your floor care routine.

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