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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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.
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. Learn more about cork floor maintenance.
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.
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.
Concrete Tile Floors
Concrete is porous, making it more susceptible to stains (even if it’s sealed). For outdoor surfaces, a pressure washer can be used to lift mildew and dirt, but to clean indoor concrete surfaces and products, use a mild soap and water solution to scrub away discolorations. Seal them every 2-3 years, especially in kitchens and bathrooms for ease of upkeep. A natural patina is bound to develop in higher trafficked areas, but accent rugs can help to soften the space and keep stains at bay. Learn more about concrete floor maintenance.
Natural Stone Floors
The easiest way to maintain natural stone flooring is to keep the surface dry mopped and sealed. When necessary, opt for a pH neutral soap diluted in water, and dry the stone after washing. Stones such as travertine and limestone will require more frequent upkeep and ordinarily would need to be re-sealed every 6-months to 2-years to help prevent stains. Granite flooring is perhaps the toughest, most durable, and most impervious to staining. Learn more about the different types of stone flooring.
Terrazzo will hold up really well in high-traffic homes, and maintenance is minimal compared to other flooring options. Regular sweeping will keep most dirt away on a terrazzo surface, but when necessary, opt for a neutral (non-acidic) soap to tackle dirt. Use a stone sealer every two years for terrazzo (perhaps more often in entryways and high-traffic areas), and buff the surface to keep it looking shiny. Learn more about terrazzo maintenance.
Marble Tile Floors
Marble floors require more upkeep and maintenance than most - whether you’re installing polished or honed marble, plan on sealing the surface every 6 to 12 months, and dry mop and vacuum the floor in between. Sharp pet claws and high heels can wreak havoc on a soft marble floor, and be forewarned that the surface can stain easily too, even if it’s just water dripped onto the floor in a bathroom. Plan on your marble floors developing a unique patina over its lifetime. Learn more about marble floor maintenance.
Porcelain and Ceramic Tile Floors
A soapy water solution will do a great job getting durable ceramic and porcelain floor tiles clean but opt for less soap and a clean rinse to prevent leaving a film on the surface. Always use a non-abrasive mop or sponge to clean, and if you need to spot-treat stains on the surface of the tile, apply a dab of hydrogen peroxide to lift and dissolve the dirt. Learn more about tile maintenance.
An important part of having clean tile floors is maintaining the grout. Dirty grout can make even the cleanest floors look dingy. Grout is porous and easily absorbs dirt, grease and other materials, so make it a point to use baking soda or diluted bleach or grout cleaner to treat the grout lines. For deep stains, allow the cleaner to set in for 10 minutes, and then scrub at the lines with an old toothbrush. Learn more about cleaning tile grout.