It’s tough to be your floor. Children and pets track dirt all over it. It can be scuffed by shoes, spilled on, and because of gravity, anything in the air will eventually end up on the floor. It is a constant battle to keep the floors of your home clean and sanitary. The most common flooring materials, other than carpet, are: linoleum, vinyl, and ceramic tile. Less common, but frequently used in upscale homes are: brick, flagstone, marble, terrazzo, slate, and wood flooring.
Cleaning your floor involves a four-step process. Remove the larger pieces of stuff, then remove the small pieces, followed by washing and drying. The first two steps are the same for any flooring material. You will find a broom to be one of the most effective tools for removing the larger pieces of detritus including pet hair. But sweeping does not do a good job on smaller pieces – crumbs, bits of dirt, and leaves, or corners. So, you should follow the broom with a dust mop or dusting cloth. The duster lets you get into the smaller places that could not be reached by the broom and it picks up the pieces rather than just moving them around.
Once the surface is cleared of mess, what you use to wash the floor will depend on its composition. Products that work well on one flooring material can actually harm a different one. Your installer should have provided you with information on the correct cleaning materials for your floor. But if not, here is a basic guide.
Linoleum and Vinyl
- Vinegar and water provide an excellent cleaning product; use about ½ cup of vinegar per bucket of clean water.
- Use either a two-bucket system (one clean and one for squeezed out dirty water) or change your water frequently to keep from washing the floor with dirty water.
- You can also use an all-purpose cleaner which you apply and then rinse off in clean water.
- Wipe up spills when they occur with a sponge dipped in dishwashing liquid. This will make cleaning later much easier.
- Remove heel marks from linoleum by dipping fine-grade (000) steel wool in liquid floor wax. Rub the spot gently, and wipe with a damp cloth.
- DO NOT use solvent-based products, such as spot removers or degreasers as they can soften and damage your floor.
- DO NOT use excessive water or leave water standing on your floor.
- There is a difference between glazed and unglazed ceramic tile in terms of cleaning and care. Glazed (shiny) ceramic tile is virtually stain proof, but unglazed (matte) ceramic tile is porous and must be sealed to resist stains.
- Wash the floor with a damp mop using water or an all-purpose cleaner. You may want to use less of the cleaner than recommended on the container as some cleaners can be a bit harsh.
- You can also clean the floor with water to which you have added ½ cup vinegar mixed in a bucket of water.
- Dry the floor with a soft cloth to avoid streaks.
- DO NOT clean unglazed ceramic tiles with acids, strong soaps, or abrasives.
- DO NOT use a cleaning agent that contains color on unglazed tile.
- The grout in your tile floor can be challenging to keep clean and stain free. It should be sealed and cleaned immediately when liquid fall on it. A toothbrush and grout cleaner should be used at least once a year and then the grout resealed. This is a chore that is very nice to get professional help in accomplishing.
Brick, flagstone, marble, terrazzo, slate, and wood floors all have features that will drive your decision on cleaning products. You should review the installation instructions to match the best cleaning product to your flooring material.
Getting your floor squeaky clean is hard work and after cleaning it would be nice if it looked clean for a little while at least. One present you might give your floor and yourself are sticky mats for those high traffic areas. Sticky Mats are thin disposable mats that pull dirt from the bottom of shoes and be easily replaced to maintain a clean floor.
Jason Kay recommends buying clean room sticky mats to keep your floor clean. They come in a large variety of sizes and styles and do an amazing job of removing dirt before it enters your home.