Autumn the perfect time to get back to floorcare routines that keep your floors looking GREAT. It may even be time for your floor to get an extra bit of TLC to really shine before the winter holidays set in.
There are many types of floors that require different routines however they all have one thing in common-
- All floors need to be cleaned and maintained on a routine basis in order to keep looking good.
- There is no such thing as a “maintenance-free” floor.
Many flooring manufacturers maintain care instructions on their websites for easy reference. Some recommend specific floor care products for cleaning and maintenance. The floor’s warranty will tell you if using a specific product is required in order to uphold the manufacturer’s warranty. Look up instructions for your floor if you know who made it.
Sweep or vacuum! I can’t emphasize enough that routine sweeping or vacuuming is a must (vacuum should be in good condition and on the correct setting for hardsurface floors) for all hard surface flooring- including hardwood, laminate, vinyl, linoleum, stone and tile. This keeps small particles of dirt and debris, which can cause microscopic scratches and dulling of your floor’s finish, off the floor. The higher the gloss level of your floor’s finish, the more evident the scratches will be. Stone and tile are the most resistant to scratches however the grout lines will collect dirt if left unswept. I’m often asked how often a person should sweep their floor. I typically reply that it depends on how much use and traffic the floor gets. A floor that is lived-on daily by a family of four (or more) is likely going require sweeping daily. For a person who lives alone the same floor may only need to be swept once each week.
Basic routine maintenance also involves cleaning. Like sweeping, the frequency with which your floor should be cleaned varies between households. Use your good judgment based on the amount of traffic on your floor. Many hardsurface floors can be easily cleaned with a no-rinse spray cleaner and a microfiber mop. This includes urethane-finished hardwood, laminate, stone & tile. Each type of floor requires a different cleaning product (so always read labels) however the idea is the same across the board. Clean the floor in small sections to avoid the sprayed cleaner from drying before you get a chance to wipe it. Bona & Basic both have popular spray cleaners for use on urethane wood floors (and more). These are reputable floor care products that are not directly linked to a specific flooring manufacturer. If you know the brand of your wood floor, check to see what the flooring manufacturer recommends before purchasing cleaner & care products. Several flooring manufacturers have their own brand of cleaner that is specifically formulated for use on their floor. Websites, such as www.1877floorguy.com carry most manufacturer specific floor care products such as Mannington Ultra Clean and Bruce Dura Luster which are formulated for cleaning wood and laminate floors made by these companies. Several spray cleaners, like the Ultra Clean and DuraLuster, are intended for use on multiple types of flooring surfaces. Wilsonart Ready Mix Spray is a laminate and linoleum floor cleaner. Bona makes a stone, tile & laminate cleaner. These can be economical cleaning products if you’ve got more than one type of flooring materials in your home so do some research before you buy. For cleaning stone & tile well-known products are made by AquaMix and DuPont StoneTech . Among the available products are easy to use spray & wipe cleaners. These quality routine cleaners, AquaMix’s AquaShield and DuPont StoneTech Revitalizer, both contain cleaning agent and sealer to protect the stone surface as it cleans (sealing is very important for natural stone). AquaMix and StoneTech also offer products for deeper cleaning (occasional use) such as Grout Deep Clean to remove stubborn grout stains or KlenzAll for cleaning soap scum and mildew from natural stone.
Tips to keep in mind when using spray & wipe cleaners:
- Always use a clean microfiber pad. Bona’s microfiber cleaning pads are machine washable and you can purchase replacement pads so you’ve always got a clean one ready to go.
- If the floor feels sticky after cleaning, according to product directions, you’ve used too much cleaner or sprayed to large an area and did not wipe sufficiently with the microfiber mop. Repeat cleaning procedure in sticky areas to resolve this problem.
- For visibly dirty spots that don’t come clean on the first pass, put a little elbow grease into your wiping with the microfiber mop or use a separate cloth to get really tough spots. I haven’t had a spot on my wood floors yet that wouldn’t come clean. When cleaning stone & tile it is ok to introduce water along with cleaning agents to work out a tough stain. For wood and laminate floors water is a no-no.
- Keep a spray bottle of cleaner under your kitchen or bathroom sink for spot cleaning. The cleaning products will tell you to use a microfiber cloth however I’ve found paper towels to work well for cleaning small messes, like spilled juice, on my wood floor.
- Only use cleaner recommended for use on your type of floor (urethane wood, laminate, natural stone, etc). Each type of cleaner is formulated for use on specific type(s) of floor(s). Using the wrong type of cleaner can have dreadful results.
Waxed wood floors require a completely different cleaning regiment. Routinely, a waxed wood floor should only be swept and spot cleaned. If spot cleaning is needed, use a cleaner formulated for use on a waxed hardwood floor such as Bruce Lite-n-Natural or Bruce Dark-n-Rich Liquid Paste Wax with Cleaner. You’ll use the same cleaner when your floor needs to be completely cleaned and waxed which should be done every 6 months to a year. The Bruce Liquid Paste Wax with Cleaner is an all-in-one product that takes care of cleaning and waxing thereby reducing the number of steps in the process. Waxed wood floors require a buffer machine which you can typically rent from a local hardware store. More information on cleaning waxed wood floors can be found in the blog post, Surprise! Wood Floors Under the Carpet! Wax or Urethane Finish?
Like hardsurface floors, carpet also requires routine maintenance to keep dirt and debris from becoming ingrained into the floor and dulling it’s appearance. The #1 rule is vacuum! Vacuuming will pick up loose dirt and debris left behind from foot traffic, food crumbs, etc. and it will lift the carpet pile which becomes especially matted down in high traffic areas. You can’t really overdo vacuuming so however often you can, do it. Your vacuum needs to be in good working condition in order to pick-up dirt. If you notice it’s not picking up visible dirt, take it to a service center for repair or get a new vacuum if the one you’re using is very old. The lint bag should be changed with some frequency since a full bag will generate dust into the air landing on the carpet. Vacuuming around the edges of the room where carpet meets wall is often missed because the vacuum itself can only get so close to the wall. Dirt build-up in these areas will eventually look like a dark rim around the edges of the room. Using the vacuum’s crevice tool around all edges of the room every few months will eliminate this problem.
When we talk about cleaning carpets we need to include periodic maintenance and spot cleaning. Periodic maintenance involves wet or dry cleaning your carpet. I am a firm believer in dry cleaning carpets. Wet or steam cleaning introduces water to your carpet which can damage carpet fibers, cause buildup of mold & mildew and require more than a day to dry leaving the room unusable for the duration. Dry cleaning is much less invasive, removes dust and mold spores from the carpet, can be walked on immediately after cleaning and is safe to use on all types of carpet from synthetics to wool. Host is my dry carpet cleaning system of choice because of the approval level of their products, proven effectiveness and ease of use. The Host website has great information to help you determine if it is the right system for your carpet, where to rent a machine (not much bigger than an upright vacuum), and how much cleaner to buy. Often you can purchase the cleaner where you rent the machine or check online retailers also where more sizes and products may be offered (machines can only be rented local to you). Host has small shaker packs of cleaner that can be used for spot or small area cleaning and don’t require use of the machine. These packs are great to keep on hand for spot cleaning.
Protect your work!
Protect your floor and your efforts to clean your floor by putting protectors on the feet or base of furniture. Felt protectors on the bottom of chairs and table legs keeps hardsurface floors from getting scratched when the furniture is moved. Think about how many times a chair is pushed in and out from a table and the damage that does to a floor. Round felt protectors cost between 16- 30 cents each and come in different sizes and quantities. Is there value in these felt protectors? Absolutely! For carpeted areas, furniture glides can be used permanently under pieces that are moved frequently. For instance, I have the 2-3/4” glides under my family room coffee table that is often moved to allow space for playing Wii. The light grey blends into my beige carpet so they’re barely noticeable. I think the legs would have snapped off or the berber carpet would have come unraveled if it weren’t for the glides.
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