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Floor Cleaning and Maintenance

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 14 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Floor Cleaning And Maintenance

To have beautiful floors you must do more than just select the appropriate type and pay attention to installation – you must also put effort into regular care and maintenance. Even the best new products, with their claims of being stain-resistant, wear-resistant and water-resistant, will benefit from good cleaning: not only will the floors look better but they will last longer too. Remember – don’t be lazy! Regular cleaning and maintenance can save you a fortune in specialist Stain Removal, Repairs and replacement.

Laminate

One of the reasons that Laminate Flooring is so popular is because of its ease of maintenance. It doesn’t require any special equipment or product to keep it looking beautiful and in good condition – just a regular vacuum using a soft brush attachment and then a wipe with a damp mop or soft cloth. It is important to only use water, even if you are scrubbing at a heavily soiled area, as soap-based detergents and harsh chemical cleaners can damage the floor’s finish, causing clouding and discolouration. Similarly, avoid harsh abrasives, such as steel wool, sandpaper or scouring pads, and laminates do not need polish or wax so avoid these as well.

Hardwood

Correct care of solid wood floors is especially important to retain its natural beauty and sheen. The key thing is to keep particles of grit and debris off the floor as these act as fine abrasives and will scratch the hardwood finish, leading to a dull appearance. Thus, it is a good idea to vacuum weekly and in addition, to use a dust mop or broom to sweep the floors during the week. For heavier soiling, act quickly and wipe with a soft cloth, using as little water a possible. Even if you are cleaning up a spill and need to use a damp cloth, always wipe the area again with a dry cloth. It is essential to keep hardwoods and their finishes free from moisture – especially if you have a wax finish. Always clean up a spill or puddle immediately. Water can seep into joints and seams and cause irreparable damage.

Always check the label of the cleaner you are proposing to use and make sure it says “suitable for hardwood floors” – otherwise, don’t use it. In fact, if you have presealed hardwood floors (usually with polyurethane), then just a cloth lightly dampened with solution of clear vinegar and hot water will be sufficient. Some people mistakenly use self-polishing waxes or vinyl and tile care products on their solid wood floors as this leaves a high gloss appearance; however, this will discolour after some time and also cause problems when you need to re-finish your hardwood in the future. If your floors are waxed, then make sure that you never use a cleaning product which requires water or contains water.

If you have hardwood floors, it may be a good idea to invest in some protective mats, rugs and runners. And unfortunately, high heels are a killer on wooden floors as they can cause permanent gouges and marks, so it may be best to take them off indoors!

Carpet

Again, when Keeping Carpets Clean, regular vacuuming is the key. However, even with diligent vacuuming and fast action on marks and spills, general staining and soiling will occur over time so it is important to invest in a deep cleaning process once a year. This will not only make your carpets look better and “freshen them up” but it will actually also extend its usability. The most popular method is ‘steam-cleaning’ or hot water extraction method, where special equipment is used to infuse the carpet with a cleaning solution and then immediately extract it again, now containing suspended dirt. If using this method, it is essential to ensure quick and thorough drying afterwards, such as by fans and dehumidifiers, to prevent damage from excess wetting of the carpet.

Other methods include dry extraction cleaning, which is similar except that a dry absorbent compound is used instead and the accumulated dirt removed by vacuuming; dry foam extraction where a special foam detergent is infused into carpets and then removed by wet vacuuming, and the rotary shampoo method, where the carpet is “shampooed” by a special machine containing rotary brushes. This last method is especially popular for DIY enthusiasts and like steam cleaning, it is important to make sure the carpet is quickly and thoroughly dried afterwards. Remember, always use a cleaning product specially designed for carpets – not household soap, laundry or dishwasher detergent – and always follow the instructions carefully. If you have a “stain-resistant” carpet, then you must use cleaning products specially formulated for this kind of carpet as otherwise, you can damage the stain-resistance.

Vinyl

Like laminate, vinyl has been designed for high traffic areas and family rooms, so it features easy cleaning and maintenance. Regular vacuuming, sweeping or dust mopping is all that is required, with quick cleaning of any spills and stains using water and mild detergent to prevent discolouration. In addition, a weekly mop using a commercial floor cleaner will help maintain the original shine and colour and then twice a year, a “stripping solution” can be used to remove the accumulated oils and soap residues which are not removed with regular mopping.

Tile

Tile requires relatively simple maintenance and cleaning: a weekly sweep or vacuum followed by a mop using hot water and mild household detergent if there is heavier soiling. If the dirt and grime is persistent, simply repeat a few more times. Most dirt will be loosened by the hot water and any remaining oily residue can be lifted by the detergent. If the area is really heavily soiled, you can try using a synthetic scouring pad or a soft brush to loosen the dirt – avoid any harsh abrasives, however, such as wire wool, as these will damage the tile surface. Always rinse the tiles again thoroughly with clean water as otherwise, any detergent left will attract more dirt. The one problem with tiles is mould and mildew – this should be tackled promptly to prevent becoming ingrained, especially in the grout, using a solution of equal parts water and ammonia. (Keep the area well ventilated and never mix with chlorine products).

Whichever type of flooring you own, the key is regular cleaning and maintenance. It is also essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for cleaning products and general maintenance.

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