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Easy, Cheap and Green Cleaning Tips for Floors

Show your floors some love. Extend the life and improve the appearance of the floors in your home with these simple efforts.

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Photo: Hulya Kolabas. From: Lorraine Bonaventura.

Wood Floors

Even the densest wood floors require a certain amount of upkeep to prevent dirt from scratching the surface. Make it a habit to dry mop or sweep hardwoods every night, and use gentle cleansers if you need a tougher scrub. Avoid letting water build up on the surface - regardless of how recently it was sealed - and consider a quick pass with a steam mop for occasional cleaning (just remember to keep it moving to prevent the steam from affecting the wood). A quick way to obtain a natural shine? Steep two tea bags in water then apply it to the floor using a damp cloth. The tannic acid in tea creates a wonderful sheen! Learn more about hardwood floor maintenance.

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Photo: Jamie House. From: Jamie House.

Cork Floors

Earth-friendly cork is a popular choice because of its durability. The most important cleaning tip is to avoid using too much water, which can absorb and cause the porous tiles to swell. Use floor pads at entryways to prevent rain or snow from damaging the floors over time, and reseal the cork tiles every few years with polyurethane. While a mild soap and water solution will suffice for weekly wash-downs, you can use a fine-grain steel wool pad to scrub stubborn stains.

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Vinyl Floors

Regularly sweeping vinyl using soft-bristled brushes is critical for keeping it clean and in good condition. The most simple solution for cleaning vinyl requires mixing a cup of apple cider vinegar in a gallon of water. It’s gentle, it’ll dry without leaving streaks, and if it’s a big batch of cleanser, it’ll store well for future uses. For acidic messes, like sauce splatters or fruit juice spills, pre-treat the spot with baking soda and water to gently agitate and lift the residue. If you really made a mess, rubbing alcohol can help to clean vinyl too. Always finish with a rinse of the apple cider vinegar cleanser to leave the surface clear of residues and streaks. Learn more about vinyl floor maintenance.

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Laminate Floors

Gentle cleaning and regular vacuuming will keep dirt buildup at bay, and prevent accidental scratching on laminate floors. Avoid products that add a waxy coating to the flooring, as well as oil soaps, as they’re difficult to remove. Forego steam mops too, as over-steaming can cause laminate floors to buckle. Learn more about laminate floor maintenance.

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