Spring brings good weather, joyful spirits, and plenty of opportunities for various outdoor activities you’ve probably been craving during the long winter months. And the more frequently you and your family go in and out of the door, the more mud, dirt, and debris you bring back home. Especially if you have young children and/or lively pets who enjoy long walks and playing outside, you may have hard time keeping your property neat and your floors clean. Here are some simple tricks that can help you maintain the fresh look and feel of your home and the spotless condition of your floors, in particular. Remember that floor cleaning won’t be such a laborious task if you manage to prevent the accumulation of dirt and grime. To achieve this stick to the 2 basic rules:
- Keep dirt off floors;
- Clean your floors regularly.
How to Keep Floors Clean
Your primary concern should be to shut most of the dirt out of your home. If you don’t allow it inside in the first place, you won’t have to worry about how to get rid of it later. So, instead of looking for the best way to clean hardwood floors or any other types of flooring you might have in your home, you can just take advantage of the following precautionary measures:
Use doormats. Placing a doormat at every entrance point to your home provides an easy and simple solution that actually works miracles when it comes to preventing dirt from getting inside your home. A nice doormat at your front door serves as a welcoming sign to your cozy home but it also reminds visitors to protect your property – it has become a conditioned reflex to wipe your feet whenever you see a doormat. Doormats in front of your back doors provide you with a quick and efficient way to clean your shoes before entering, while those at your porch door or balcony door will help considerably reduce the amount of dirt you take inside. For maximum efficiency, however, you need to keep your mats clean all the time – wash them on a regular basis and dust them off daily;
- Wear indoor shoes inside your home. Unless you wash them, there will be dirt and dust on your shoes’ soles, no matter how hard you try to shake them off. Get hold of some comfortable indoor footwear and make it a habit to slip into your slippers or moccasins as soon as you enter your home. Don’t forget to provide several extra pairs of different sizes to offer to your guests;
- Store your shoes in an appropriate place. Needless to say, any footwear that is not appropriate for the season or is only used on special occasions should be stored, clean and tidy, in a shoe cabinet. You are advised to designate an area near the doorway for all the shoes you and your family members are currently wearing. Provide a surface layer that is waterproof and easy to maintain or replace. Remember that in rainy days your shoes will be covered in mud and if the surface material is not appropriate, the water will inevitably soak into it and will seep through to damage the floor. You may consider spreading textile materials or paper on top of the protective surface as they are very easy to replace when they get dirty. (Remember to never store your shoes on rugs or paper layers only for the reasons described above.) Make sure the stored footwear doesn’t get accidentally kicked or moved around, or the dirt from the soles may loosen and quickly spread into your home. Work boots and garden shoes are usually too dirty and you probably don’t want to waste time washing them whenever you take them off after some hard work, so they should be kept in a garage or in a shed;
Clean your pets’ paws. If your animal friends have been out, it is recommended to clean their paws before they enter your home. It is usually enough to make your dog or cat stay on the doormat for several minutes so that excessive dirt from their paws is shaken off and any water is soaked into the material. When it is particularly muddy outside, or in case your playful pets just got too dirty, you should use wet wipes to clean their paws (if necessary – their bellies, chests, and tails, as well) before they get into your home. If you have a pet door and let your animal friends into the yard at their will, place a rug on the inside, so that they walk over it every time they get in (mats made from special absorbent microfiber materials to wick away water from your pets’ paws will come very handy in such cases).
So, if you have taken proper measures to provide maximum protection for your floors, the next step is to maintain them properly.
Floor Maintenance Tips
- Clean regularly. A stitch in time saves nine, you know, so if you can find the time to vacuum and/or mop your floors frequently, this will save you the hard work involved in extensive floor cleaning. When it becomes a routine activity, cleaning requires very little efforts and takes up very little of your time. Besides, your surroundings will be fresh and cheerful all the time;
Remove spills and stains immediately. Don’t wait for muddy footprints to dry or for spilled liquids to stain the surface of your floor before you wipe them off. Otherwise the spots will become difficult to clean and the dirt may spread further into your home. If you take care of every dirty spot as soon as you notice it, you will certainly facilitate your cleaning efforts and you may even prevent permanent damage to your floors;
- Be careful what cleaning products and methods you use. When vacuuming, make sure the attachment you are using and the suction power rate you have selected for your vacuum cleaner are appropriate for your type of floors. Always vacuum or sweep the floor before washing it to avoid spreading the dirt or making it muddy. Check if any floor cleaning products you intend to use are suitable for the type of floors you have (abrasive substances, harsh detergents and/or acidic solutions can be harmful for specific surfaces). Do your best not to wet the floors too much and dry them well when you are done (avoid using water for wood floors). If you consider steam cleaning, research all the relevant information first.
Proper floor maintenance is of primary importance for keeping your floors clean and intact. However, certain circumstances necessitate a more thorough cleaning. So, if this is the case, read all the relevant information below and get down to work or hire professional floor cleaning services to do the job for you in a quick and efficient manner.
Floor Cleaning Tips
The best way to clean your floor depends on its specific type, of course, but the general rule is to use very small amounts of mild cleaning agents and test your floor cleaning solution on a small hidden area first. Clean in a gentle manner and rinse well when necessary, just remember to always blot your floors completely dry in the end.
How to Clean Hardwood Floors
When cleaning hardwood floors, you need to avoid bleach, ammonia, abrasive cleaners and any products that may leave a residue and/or damage the delicate surface. If the surface of your floor is sealed with polyurethane, urethane, or a polyacrylic coating, it should be water- and stain-resistant and easy to clean. Shellac, lacquer, or varnish finishes, however, are not as durable, so greater caution is required when treating them. The hardwood floor cleaner you have chosen according to the kind of finish your floor has should be diluted in distilled water as specified in the instructions. Wipe the floor with a lightly-dampened mop making gentle slow motions. Dip a cloth in mineral spirits and scrub over persistent stains to remove them. If necessary, rinse with a mop dipped in clean water but be very careful as any excess moisture is harmful for the wood floor. Buff the floor completely dry immediately afterwards. Avoid walking on the floor for about half an hour after you have finished cleaning. Bamboo floors and any other types of wood floors should be treated in the same way.
How to Clean Tile Floors
If your tile floors need more extensive cleaning, you are advised to use a solution of warm water and white vinegar. Mix half a cup of vinegar with a gallon of warm water and mop the floor. You can use a mild dishwashing agent instead of vinegar for better results, just don’t forget to rinse the floor with clean water afterwards. If some persistent stains remain, you are advised to prepare a paste of scouring powder and warm water in equal proportions and to rub it on the spot. Let it stay for about 10 minutes, scrub with a soft brush, and rinse with warm water. If mildew has accumulated on your tiles, you will need a 50/50 solution of water and ammonia. Rust spots, on the other hand, are best removed when rubbed with a rug soaked in kerosene.
Remember that cleaning tile floors cannot be done successfully without cleaning the grouts as well. You can use a special grout brush or even an old toothbrush to scrub the grouts with a paste prepared from baking soda and water. Rinse with warm water and let your grout lines dry completely. You may consider applying a coat of grout sealer to prevent grout from accumulating too much dirt and mildew in the future.
How to Clean Laminate Floors
Hot water provides the best method for cleaning laminate floors. You can add a spoonful or two of baby shampoo in the water but it is not recommended unless the floor is extremely dirty. Wring the mop well before using it and be careful not to step on the wet floor. Wipe it dry with a clean microfiber cloth. If the result is not good enough, pour about a quarter cup of white vinegar into a standard spray bottle, fill with water to the top and spray over a small area. Wipe the spot immediately with a damp cloth (vinegar will wear away the protective coating of the laminate if it stays on it for too long) and blot the surface dry (excessive water may cause the floor to warp).
How to Clean Vinyl Floors
You can use a solution of vinegar (or a mild dishwashing detergent) and hot water to clean your vinyl floors. A thick paste prepared from baking soda and water will remove most stains, just make sure to rinse the floor thoroughly so that no residues remain. Avoid using abrasive substances and don’t scrub too hard or the vinyl flooring you will lose its shine. Dry well when you are done because water can damage the glue that keeps the vinyl adhered to the floor underneath.
How to Clean Marble Floors
Mix a mild neutral detergent with cool water and mop your marble floors with overlapping short strokes. Mop once again with clean water and let the floor air dry. You can use an appropriate commercial cleaner, of course, but read the instructions carefully to know what type of marble the specific product is suitable for and try it on a small hidden area first. If you want to seal the marble, use a penetrating sealer which protects against staining but allows the stone to breathe.
Although floor cleaning is not an intimidating or overwhelmingly difficult task, you need to know what cleaning products and methods to use in order not to accidentally damage your more delicate floor surfaces. Wood floor cleaning, in particular, is somewhat tricky because preserving the flawless condition of the wood has its specifics and you’d better not risk ruining your expensive and beautiful flooring. If you have any doubts about the proper ways to treat your floors, remember that floor cleaning companies have the right equipment and the rich experience required for achieving the best possible results. Hiring professionals is also a good option when you don’t have the time for extensive floor cleaning or just don’t feel up to the task – you will have your floors cleaned in a competent and speedy manner and, in the meantime, you will be able to deal with other urgent issues or enjoy your favorite activities.