Ask Shelley: How do I keep my floors looking fabulous?
When you’ve got beautiful flooring, you want to take good care of it, ensuring that it will continue to look great for years to come.
It can be tricky, though, to know which products to use with different materials and if certain methods are better than others. The goal is clean and shiny floors without any buildup or streaks, which can sometimes be harder to achieve than you’d think.
We spoke to Shelley from Heritage Home Hardware in Sault Ste. Marie about how to not only care for your floors but keep them looking fabulous. She shared her do’s and don’ts to help keep your floors immaculate.
Some tips to get started
Regardless of the kind of floors you have, if you adopt certain habits and put specific things in place you can minimize damage. Shelley recommends, for instance, keeping a doormat at your entryway; it will catch and trap dirt and any small stones that get brought into the house on your shoes, which can scratch or dent most types of flooring.
It’s also a good idea to place runners or carpets over the high-traffic areas of your floors. This will minimize wear and tear—you can replace a runner or a carpet much easier than you can permanent flooring. Use furniture pads to prevent scratches and dents, and furniture glides to avoid scuff marks when moving furniture.
Keep in mind that high heels and hard rubber soles can also damage your floors, so you might want to institute a shoe-free policy in your home.
It’s really important to stick to a regular cleaning schedule. Use your calendar to keep track of how often you need to sweep, vacuum and deep-clean your floors. The more you stick to a routine, the easier the job will be as there won’t be nearly as much work to do.
While it can be tempting to put this off, be sure to tackle any stains that occur as soon as you can and wipe up any spills. The faster you act, the easier they will be to treat.
If you have vinyl flooring anywhere in your home, regardless of which specific type (traditional vinyl, SPC vinyl or peel and stick vinyl), the methods for care and cleaning are all pretty similar. Of course, if you received any specific maintenance instructions from the manufacturer, be sure to follow those as well.
These are Shelley’s additional tips:
- First vacuum, sweep or dry mop the floor to remove all dust, hair and dirt
- Use plain water to wipe up any spills immediately, to help prevent stains
- Use a good vinyl-specific cleaner to keep your floors spotless
- You could also use vinegar with water: the acidity of the vinegar removes dirt yet doesn’t leave a soapy film
- For extra cleaning power, add a few drops of liquid dish soap
- Remove acidic stains like fruit juice, red wine or tomato sauce with a mixture of baking soda and water
- Remove lipstick, crayon, paint or ink marks with rubbing alcohol and a soft-bristle brush
- Use a good vinyl-specific polish to keep your floor looking shiny and new
Alternatively, you could add a few drops of baby oil to your vinegar cleaning solution, which will add shine to your floor
- Use a vacuum with the heater bar turned on as it can damage the vinyl surface
- Scrub vinyl floors with steel wool to remove stains
- Leave spills to air dry: always wipe them up as soon as they occur
- Use an excessive amount of water to clean your vinyl floors
- Use bleach, ammonia or other cleaners with a high pH level as they will damage the vinyl surface
- Apply wax or polish as they will leave a dull film on the surface
- Steam clean your vinyl floor, even if it’s waterproof
HARDWOOD AND LAMINATE FLOORS
The care and cleaning methods are similar for hardwood, engineered hardwood and laminate flooring. One exception, however, is the cleaners recommended for engineered hardwood.
Again, it’s recommended that you first consult the specific cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer.
- Leave any standing water on the floor as it can damage the wood
- Use harsh detergents like ammonia as it will dull the surface of your floors
- Use vinyl floor cleaner or tile cleaner on hardwood floors
- Use any wax-based cleaners or oil soaps on engineered wood flooring as they can damage the construction
- Use DIY vinegar-based solutions as it can damage the finish
- Use steel wool or other rough applicators as they can damage the surface of the wood
- When applying any cleaning products, do not use rough materials such as a steel wool brush
Many like to use steam mops because they are great for deep cleaning and sanitizing your floors. They work especially well on tiled bathroom and kitchen floors, but they can’t be used on any hardwood or laminate floor. They are generally safe for sealed hardwood floors, as this material can withstand the heat and moisture; you’ll also get a lovely streak-free finish.
Where shouldn’t you use a steam mop? On unsealed hardwood floors, engineered hardwood floors and laminate floors. You will damage the floors as these materials simply can’t take the added heat and moisture.
The recommendation for tile floors is similar: start by sweeping and vacuuming before you begin actual cleaning. Below are some material-specific tips.
Start by washing the tiles with hot water. Next, clean the porcelain using a bristle brush and good tile & grout cleaner; you could also use a solution of vinegar and water. It’s not recommended to use bleach or ammonia as they can damage the porcelain. After cleaning, rinse off the tiles with hot water and dry the floor thoroughly with a clean towel.
Clean your ceramic tile floors with a good quality tile & grout cleaner; you can apply it with a flat mop. Shelley doesn’t recommend that you use a sponge, as it can push dirty water into your grout. As an alternative, you could try using warm water with just a few drops of liquid dish soap. Wash and dry one section of the floor at a time. How frequently? Wash your bathroom tiles weekly and your kitchen tiles biweekly.
If you have slate tile floors, you can clean them with a mixture of warm water and a mild detergent or dish soap. It’s best to avoid any cleaners that contain lemon, vinegar or other acidic substances when cleaning any type of stone tile floors.
Clean marble floors with hot water and a marble-specific cleaner. If you have granite floors, use hot water and a granite-specific cleaner. You can apply cleaners with a soft cloth or a sponge, and buff them dry with a clean cloth afterward.
It’s true that keeping your floors clean takes a bit of work, but it’s well worth it. Not only will your newly cleaned floors be free of germs and bacteria, they will look great and last longer. Learn more about the assortment of floor cleaners that’s available and find the right one for you.
For more suggestions on how to get your flooring sparkling, visit Heritage Home Hardware or call 705-759-5101.