Posted on September 9th, 2018
Your floors—whether you have hardwood, laminate, tile, or carpeting—represent a big investment. The state of your flooring also contributes heavily to the look and feel of your home. Clean, well-maintained floors and carpets make a home seem fresh and new. Worn, stained surfaces, on the other hand, can make a home feel dirty and drab, even if it isn’t.
By cleaning your floors correctly, you’ll both improve your quality of life and ensure the longevity of your investment. Improper cleaning methods are the number one cause of premature aging and damage across the entire spectrum of flooring materials. Health-wise, cleaning correctly will safeguard your respiratory system and reduce the number of illnesses your family gets. Poorly cleaned carpets provide an ideal home for bacteria and common allergens (like pet dander and dust mites). In the guide below, you’ll find upkeep strategies for all of the most common types of flooring:
4 Kinds of Household Flooring and How to Clean Them
Most people think hardwood is the most difficult flooring material to maintain, but carpeting presents more of a challenge for many homeowners. Not only does its porous nature make it prone to rapid and deep staining, carpeting that looks superficially clean can still harbor unwanted odors, bacteria, and allergens.
To keep your carpets clean, you should vacuum high-traffic areas (like hallways) at least once per day. You don’t have to spend a lot of time doing so (15 minutes will usually suffice), you just need to pick up dirt particles before they have a chance to get ground into the base of the carpet. Once they get pushed down that far, most vacuums can’t touch them.
Every week, vacuum all of the carpets in your house, slowly and thoroughly. (If you have pets, you may want to consider doing this every few days.) Start by sprinkling baking soda over them, then let that sit for several hours (or overnight) so that it has a chance to absorb odors. Finally, using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, vacuum all of your carpets until every trace of the baking soda is gone.
No matter how disciplined you are about vacuuming, some particles (from food, liquids, dirt, etc.) will eventually find their way into the base of your carpets. This is why it’s important to also have your carpets professionally steam cleaned every three to six months. The hot water extraction method used by professional steam cleaners flushes out ground-in dirt and instantly kills bacteria.
2. Ceramic tile.
Ceramic tile floors are fairly easy to clean: Start by sweeping the tiles thoroughly; this will stop any dirt present from mixing with your cleaning solution and running into cracks or staining the grout between the tiles. It will also prevent sharp particles from scratching your tiles while you mop. After sweeping, get a bucket of warm water and add a dab of mild detergent to it. Use a soft microfiber mop to soak up some of this cleaning solution, then gently push it across the tiles, using circular motions. Replace your bucket of cleaning solution as soon as it starts to look murky to avoid re-soiling the floor. (Note that you should never use a sponge mop on ceramic tiles; this type of mop can’t clean grout tracks.)
If your grout still looks dingy after you mop, use a soft vinyl brush and some non-abrasive cleaning solution to tackle the stains. If even this doesn’t work, call in the pros; upgrading to a stronger cleaning solution could damage your tiles.
The key to cleaning hardwood floors lies in protecting them from scratches and water damage. To do this, you will first need to make sure that your hardwood floors are sealed with polyurethane sealer. If the sealer on your floors has worn off, the wood will have no barrier against moisture.
Once you’ve verified that the sealant on your floors is up to date, vacuum or dry mop the floor thoroughly. Then, prepare a bucket of warm water with a few drops of wood-safe detergent. Immerse your mop in this solution, but make sure you wring it out thoroughly before you allow it to touch the floor. The mop should be lightly damp, not dripping wet. Mop the floor with long, smooth strokes, making sure to follow the direction of the wood’s grain. After you’re done mopping, buff the floor thoroughly with a soft cloth. This will remove any residual moisture and give your floor a brilliant sheen.
4. Vinyl laminate.
Vinyl flooring is fairly robust overall, but it can be susceptible to water damage. As such, if you have vinyl floors, your number one priority should be cleaning up liquid spills as soon as they happen.
Vinyl floors should be swept or vacuumed daily in high traffic areas in order to prevent scratching, and they should be mopped once per week. To mop a vinyl floor, mix one cup of vinegar into a bucket of warm water. Immerse a sponge mop in this solution, then wring out excess moisture so that the mop is damp rather than soaking wet. Mop the floor using smooth circular strokes, and replace the vinegar and water solution as soon as it gets dirty.
To tackle stubborn stains, try using baking soda. Apply baking soda to the stain, moisten it, then scrub the area with a soft nylon-bristle brush. Wash the baking soda away with a cloth after you’ve removed the stain. (Never use steel wool or any other highly abrasive brush on vinyl flooring; this can cause irreparable damage.)
Regardless of which type of flooring you have, you should be extremely cautious when trying to remove stubborn stains. Some chemical agents, like bleach, can destroy certain types of flooring. They also pose a very real health hazard for children and pets. If you have a stain that you can’t handle on your own, contact us: We’ll be happy to give you advice or arrange professional cleaning services for you.