All the secrets to sparkling clean floors
When it comes to keeping your floors clean, a little maintenance goes a long way. This is especially true if you have pets or kiddos (or both) in the home. While cleaning methods will vary by floor type, there are some general rules to follow. From hardwood to natural stone to laminate, here’s how to keep your floors spotless.
1. Sweep and Vacuum Regularly
Sure, it’s a great idea to deep-clean your floors every couple weeks. But, how you care for your floors on a daily and weekly basis might matter even more so. It’s important to get rid of dirt before it starts to accumulate. Not only does getting rid of dirt and dust make your floors look better, but it's also good for your health.
Commit to a regular sweeping schedule, especially when you're cooking. (When food particles and other debris build up over time, this can lead to stains and damage.) Vacuum hard surfaces (hardwood, laminate, tile, etc.) at least once a week, and twice a week for rugs and carpets.
"The frequency that floors and carpets are maintained is directly linked to the amount of time it takes for the materials (wood, laminate, varying carpet fibers) to degrade," says Asya Biddle, Angi Expert Review Board member and manager of The Dust Busters janitorial company in Williamsport, PA.
2. Mop Correctly
Mopping is an integral part of any floor cleaning routine, but unless you’re doing it right, you may be doing more harm than good. No matter the floor type, don’t use too much soap—a couple tablespoons per bucket of water is all you need. Don’t over-wet your mop, as this could lead to warping. And, change out the water regularly, to avoid leaving a grimy residue.
Here’s how to mop some of the most popular floor types:
Instead of a bucket and water, use a microfiber mop or a steam mop that’s designed for wood flooring. Make sure that your mop is lightly dampened, not sopping wet. Don’t use DIY vinegar cleaning solutions or anything with harsh detergents.
"A steam mop may be utilized to clean wood floors. The two main things a homeowner needs to be aware of when utilizing a steam mop is if the wood floors are sealed and how much steam the mop releases,” says Biddle. If the wood floor isn’t sealed and too much steam is introduced, it may warp or degrade the wood and stain.”
When it comes to cleaning laminate flooring, a damp microfiber mop works best. You can use either a floor cleaner or detergent solution with it.
Mop with a gentle detergent. Don’t use a steam mop; this can bubble or warp your flooring.
Avoid over-wetting your mop. Use dish soap and water and avoid anything with polish or oil in it. Never use abrasive tools to mop your laminate flooring.
Keep your tile floors clean by using a rag or chamois mop instead of a sponge mop. (A sponge mop will push dirt into the grout.) A mixture of all-purpose cleaner or dish soap and water is best.
Make sure your stone flooring is protected with a resin sealant to prevent staining. Mop sealed stone floors with a pH-neutral cleaner. Use a microfiber mop and hot water on unsealed stone floors. A steam cleaner works well for stains.
3. Keep the Dirt Outdoors
One of the best things you can do to keep your floors clean is to keep the dirt out. Place a doormat at every entrance, if possible, to encourage people to clean off their shoes. Enforcing a strict “indoor shoes” policy will save you some serious time and heartache.
4. Use the Right Cleaning Solution (and Supplies) for Stains
Liquids can damage certain types of flooring, so be sure to wipe up spills as soon as they occur. And, only use cleaning products and spot treatments that are formulated for your floors. If you’re dealing with deeply embedded dirt and stubborn stains, it’s always worth hiring a floor cleaning professional in your area.
Here are some cardinal rules to follow for each type of flooring when spills and stains occur:
Carpeting: Never use stain-removing laundry products—only carpet cleaners will do.
Tile: Try using a steam cleaner or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to remove tough stains.
Stone: Use a pH-neutral floor cleaner for stains or try steam cleaning.
Linoleum: Depending on the stain, baking soda or rubbing alcohol can remove discoloration.
Hardwood: A mild, pH-neutral soap mixed with water is best; anything too acidic will dull your floors.
Laminate: Soap-based detergents are a no-no, but laminate stain removers and vinegar-based solutions are okay.
Vinyl: Baking soda and water work wonders on stains from acidic substances; rubbing alcohol is best for super-tough stains.
5. Keep Your Pets Well-Groomed
Yes, we all love our pets, but they’re not exactly the cleanest members of the family. Keep hair buildup at bay by brushing your furry friend daily, in addition to keeping their nails neat and trimmed. Stash a towel at the back door so you can clean your pup’s paws post-walk. And, always clean up accidents immediately.
6. Prevent Wear and Tear
Knowing how to keep your floors clean is crucial, but preventing dirt, stains, and scratches from occurring in the first place is ideal.
Aside from regular maintenance, protect your flooring with rugs and mats in high-traffic areas. You can also place felt pads under furniture and trays under potted plants. And, always use a furniture slider if you’re moving a piece of furniture around.