Beautiful flooring can set any cookie-cutter home apart from the rest. However, keeping those floors in great shape can be a challenge, especially for active families. While experts recommend you have your upholstery professionally cleaned every 12 to 24 months, you certainly can’t go that long without cleaning your floors. But what’s actually the best way to ensure your floor is spotless this spring and summer? Take note of the following tips.
Even though other flooring options have increased in popularity during recent years, carpets and rugs are still found in countless homes around the country. Regular vacuuming is a must here — experts recommend two times a week or more — as this will increase its overall lifespan. Bi-yearly professional cleaning will help as well, but you might want to hire a company instead of trying to rent cleaning equipment and do the job yourself. After all, you won’t know the last time that equipment has even been serviced.
The biggest problem for those with carpeting tends to be staining. Swift action is key for removing stains and for preventing them altogether. If the spill has any physical debris, pick it up with a spoon or fork to minimize damage. Many experts recommend that you blot away stains before applying detergent solution onto a damp towel and blotting some more. You can also use a stain remover, provided it’s on the Carpet and Rug Institute’s list of certified cleaning products. Remember: rubbing makes things worse! Rinse the spot with cool (not warm or hot) water and continue dabbing to try. If the stain is stubborn, you can repeat this process as many times as it takes.
Odors are another common carpet problem. Whether you have a pet who forgets their potty-training or missed some subtle yet stinky spills, you’ll need to deal with the smell if you don’t want to completely replace your carpet or rug. You should not use a steam cleaner to treat urine spots or other smelly stains, as that equipment’s high heat can actually make the stain and stink permanent. To treat pet stains, you can use the same method outlined above but using a pet-specific stain remover or a wet vacuum. For other stains with odors, you can use the blot technique, sprinkle with baking soda, and vacuum with a regular cleaner.
Hardwood floors are among the most desirable for homeowners due to their beauty and relatively low maintenance requirements. Typically, regular sweeping and/or dusting will take care of most messes. When vacuuming, be sure to use a floor-brush attachment to prevent damage to the finish. You may also want to invest with a dust mop with a microfiber head. When using cleaning agents, make sure they’re approved for your floors and that you use them according to the instructions on the label. In most cases, you’ll want a neutral PH-balanced formula that won’t leave any residue behind. You’ll need to find out whether your wood floors are covered with wax or with polyurethane; this will determine the type of cleaning agent you should use.
Water can do some damage to wood floors, so refrain from using damp mops. Moisture can easily penetrate the fibers in the wood and cause your floor boards to warp, swell, and separate — and that’ll cost you. For that same reason, wipe up all spills right away and make certain the floor is completely dry.
If you want to increase the lifespan of your hardwood floors, you may also want to consider instating a “no shoes indoors” policy. Not only will this reduce the amount of dirt in your home (and therefore, the amount of cleaning you’ll have to do), but it’ll also eliminate damage. Wearing high heels on a wood floor is essentially the same as pounding the floors with a tiny hammer, according to experts. Taking off your shoes as soon as you enter will keep your floors clean and dent-free.
When properly maintained, linoleum flooring options (including the eco-friendly Marmoleum) can last upwards of 40 years. Maintaining linoleum is relatively straightforward, but it’s not completely foolproof. These floors are particularly vulnerable to water damage, so you do need to be a little careful when you clean. Spills should be wiped up right away and vacuumed in a way that prevents scratches. Some experts recommend that you divide up the floors into small sections for cleaning.
To really deep clean those linoleum floors, you can follow up vacuuming with mopping. Take care not to use any extraneous water here. The mop should be only slightly damp. You can fill a bucket with hot water and a small amount of dish soap, taking care to avoid any harsh or acidic products. Stir the mixture and dip your mop in. Wring out the mop thoroughly and divide the space into small sections. Carefully clean until the floor is done. You can then clean out the bucket and refill with hot water (with no soap). Mop again in the same fashion and get rid of all excess moisture left behind. You can do this by taking towels or clean rags to pat down the floor surface to dry. You can also perform this whole process with a scrub brush if you’re in need of more thorough cleaning.
Note that you can substitute vinegar for soap when cleaning linoleum, as it’s more natural and even less expensive. Mix white vinegar or apple cider vinegar with water and an optional splash of lemon juice to clean this way. You can also add baking soda for tough jobs.
Laminate flooring is appealing because it’s easy to care for and can be made to mimic the look of even pricier options. It doesn’t need to be waxed or varnished and is resistant to stains and scratches, which makes it appealing for a lot of Americans. Most people find that a weekly vacuuming or dry-mopping session is adequate between deeper cleanings. Some homeowners will use a microfiber dusting pad.
Like other kinds of flooring, laminate does not like water. So when you deep clean, make sure to use no extraneous water to minimize damage. You should also refrain from polishing these floors, as that’ll damage the finish, and stay away from pine-scented cleaners that leave behind residue. As with other floors, you should wipe up spills immediately. Fortunately, replacing a damaged panel isn’t a big deal in most cases — but you should still take care to prevent damage whenever possible.
A note on cleaning agents: As we mentioned above, many homeowners are turning to more natural cleaning methods to protect the environment and keep toxic chemicals out of their homes. This can help reduce allergies and potential health hazards for your family — including your pets. With over 75 million pet dogs throughout the U.S., families need to inspect household cleaning products to ensure they don’t present a hazard for your furrier loved ones. Keep in mind that the majority of commercially sold cleaning products are harmful to pets — and your four-legged friends are going to be closer to the ground than anyone. Fortunately, there are a growing number of products on the market — as well as DIY options for making your own cleaning solutions at home — that can help protect every member of the family while ensuring your floors look their best.
There’s no doubt that foot traffic and messes can take their toll on your home’s floors. But whether you want to remain in your home for years or want to sell it sometime in the future, you’ll want to keep everything underfoot looking as new as possible. Around 48% of buyers look for homes that have never been lived in, these tips can help you make sure yours looks like yours hasn’t — and no one will be the wiser.