How to clean floors in your home.
Whether they're linoleum, vinyl, hardwood, natural stone or tile, keeping them free of dirt, grunge and grime requires a surface-specific cleaning routine.
Here's how to gently but thoroughly care for five of the most popular home surfaces.
Keeping linoleum clean requires little more than regular damp mopping (use very little water, which can make the surface brittle) or dry dust mopping to rid the surface of grit and dust before it is ground in.
Deep-clean weekly with a neutral pH cleaner. To keep it shiny and lustrous, apply a wax such as canauba to seal and protect the surface annually.
Linoleum cleaning don'ts:
Vinyl floors require only regular sweeping and damp mopping with water for general cleaning.
For grimy jobs, a cleaner with a surfactant (the label will tell you if a product has this) will provide more uniform cleaning and drying.
One of vinyl's most vexing cleaning challenges is keeping daily dirt out of surface crevices. Since these tiny particles can quickly become ground in, vacuum the surface regularly - every day or two - rather than sweeping it.
Why? A vacuum pulls the dirt away; a broom drags dirt across the surface, increasing the risk that smaller particles will be left behind. 'Nuff said.
Hardwood floors are a tough challenge in high-traffic kitchens.
Still, whether yours are oak, maple, ash or beech: Cleaning them is about as safe and simple as it gets.
Always wipe up spills quickly, as standing water can damage a hardwood's finish. Keep it clear of dirt, sand, and grit, as these can act like sandpaper and scratch the finish.
Once a week cleaning with a broom, vacuum, or dust mop is all that's needed to keep them looking their natural best.
For deeper cleaning, damp-mop by dipping a mop in a neutral pH wood cleaner. Wring it almost dry and apply to the surface. For stubborn spots, a solution of vinegar and water will cut through most blights.
Not quite removed?
For extra tough spots or stains, buff the
blemish with acetone nail polish remover, then wipe clean with a damp
Natural stone needs to be wiped down down daily. Even with a sealer
applied, the surface is vulnerable to staining from water and oil-based
Sure, daily wipe-downs may seem cumbersome. But if you're prepared for the job with a water-only mop hanging in a nearby cabinet, it takes just minutes for a clean shine that lasts the whole day.
You'll also want to regularly vacuum and damp mop.
Tile presents a tough cleaning dilemma: How do you get it really clean without marring the glossy surface?
Start with a cleaning routine designed to keep grime from building up. This will help prevent the need for big-gun cleaners.
Regularly vacuum ad damp mop tile surfaces. And clean up spills as they happen.
For deeper general cleaning as needed, a neutral pH cleaner without surfactants (which can leave a residue on tile) provides tough grease-cutting action.
About the Author
Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.