Easy, Inexpensive & Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips for Floors
Use these simple cleaning and maintenance tips to show your floors some love. Not only will they look better, but you’ll find they last longer as well.
No matter how dense your wood floor, it will require some upkeep so that dirt doesn’t scratch the surface. Try to make it a habit to sweep or dry mop hardwood floors every night. If you need a tougher scrub, use gentle cleansers. Do not let water build up on the surface, no matter how well it is sealed. For occasional cleaning, simply take a quick pass with a steam mop — just remember to keep it moving so that the steam won’t affect the wood. A natural way to give the floor a nice shine is to steep two tea bags in water and then apply the water to the floor with a damp cloth. The tannic acid in the tea gives the wood a beautiful sheen.
Using soft-bristled brushes to sweep vinyl on a regular basis is critical for keeping it clean and in nice condition. A simple cleaning solution to use on vinyl is made by mixing one cup of apple cider vinegar in a gallon of water. Not only is it gentle, it’ll dry without streaks. The mixture also stores will for future uses.
To take care of acidic spills, like tomato sauce or fruit juice, try pre-treating the spot with baking soda and water. Gently agitate to lift the residue. For a major mess, rubbing alcohol can be used to clean vinyl as well. But always rinse it with the apple cider vinegar cleanser so the surface is left clear and streak-free.
Basic cleaning techniques, like regular vacuuming and gentle cleaning, will keep dirt from building up and prevent surface scratches on laminate floors. Avoid oil soaps and products that leave a waxy coating on the floor, as they’re not easy to remove. Also, do not use steam mops since over-steaming will cause the laminate flooring to buckle.
Popular because of its durability, earth-friendly cork should not encounter too much water, even during cleanings. Because the tiles are porous, they absorb excess water and swell. Consider using floor pads at entryways to prevent rain or snow from damaging the floors over time, and be sure to reseal your cork tiles every few years with polyurethane. To clean, a mild soap and water mixture is all that is needed on a weekly basis. For more stubborn stains, use a fine grain steel wool pad.
Even when sealed, concrete is more susceptible to stains because it is porous. While a pressure washer can be used to lift dirt and mildew on outdoor surfaces, indoor concrete requires a mild soap and water solution and a little elbow grease to scrub away discolorations. For ease of upkeep, consider sealing concrete floors every 2-3 years, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. Higher trafficked areas are bound to develop a natural patina over time, but strategic accent rugs will help soften the space and lower the chances of staining.
Natural Stone Floors
Maintaining natural stone flooring is quite simple — just keep the surface dry mopped and sealed. When needed, use a pH neutral soap and water solution to wash the floor and always dry it after washing. Floors made of travertine and limestone will need more frequent attention, including a re-sealing every 6 months to 2 years to help prevent staining. Granite flooring is probably the toughest and most unaffected by staining.
Marble Tile Floors
If you have marble floors, then you should know that they require more maintenance and upkeep than most other flooring types. Whether polished or honed marble, the surface should be sealed every 6 to 12 months. Dry mop and vacuum the floor regularly in between sealings. A soft marble floor can be damaged by sharp pet claws and high heels, and is prone to staining, even from plain water dripped on the floor in a bathroom. Also, understand that your marble floors will develop a unique patina over its lifetime.
Porcelain & Ceramic Tile Floors
A basic soapy water solution does an amazing job getting porcelain and ceramic tiles clean, but go light on the soap and heavy on the rinse water so that your floor isn’t left with a foggy film on the surface. Always use non-abrasive products on the floor, like a mop or sponge. To spot-treat surface stains, try a dab of peroxide to lift and dissolve the dirt.
Durable and generally low-maintenance, terrazzo holds up really well in high-traffic homes. Sweeping regularly will keep most dirt at bay, but when needed, go for a non-acidic soap to handle tough messes. Seal your floor every two years using a stone sealer, and buff the surface to make it shine. More frequent sealing may be needed in entryways and other high-traffic areas.
Dirty grout makes even the cleanest tile floors look dingy. That’s why an important part of maintaining clean floors is taking care of the grout. Since grout is porous and absorbs dirt, grease and other materials easily, it’s important to treat grout lines with baking soda, diluted bleach, or grout cleaner. For deep stains, let the cleaner set in for about 10 minutes before scrubbing the lines with an old toothbrush.