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How to Clean Your Floors

Ysobel Croix | Improvement Center Columnist | December 13, 2011

Having clean floors can give your house a more polished look, not to mention that clean floors can be healthier and safer for your family. Be wary of one-size-fits-all cleaning advice that's been passed to you by helpful friends and family. Vinegar and water can't be used on all floors--not without damaging them.

The best rule for cleaning floors is don't use a cleaner or a cleaning technique on your floor that you're not 100 percent sure is safe per the manufacturer's recommendations. Using products other than those recommended by the manufacturer may void your warranty. If you've purchased a home and aren't too sure what type of flooring you have, you should contact a reputable, professional floor cleaning service for a consultation.

Four cleaning tips for all floor types

These four tips will help you keep your floors cleaner whatever your type of flooring.

  1. Declare your home "shoes-off.: Having everyone take off their shoes at the door will keep your floors cleaner and cut down on your cleaning time, because less debris and dirt will be tracked through the house.
  2. Keep a door mat outside any entry doors and an easily-cleanable rug inside to catch dirt and rocks. You can clean these areas more frequently.
  3. Know that your floors require both frequent cleaning and care, such as vacuuming or dry mopping, and less frequent maintenance such as polishing, waxing, refinishing, grout sealing or shampooing. One isn't a substitute for the other, though proper cleaning can prevent the premature refinishing or resealing of floors that were cared for improperly.
  4. For carpet-free floors, sweep first, then use a clean, microfiber mop slightly dampened (not wet) with plain ol' water for frequent cleaning. Water is pH neutral and generally safe for all floors.

Dos and don'ts for clean, damage-free floors

These floor cleaning dos and don'ts will keep you in the clear until you're able to research your flooring manufacturer's recommendations.

  • Do have your carpets cleaned professionally every 6-12 months.
  • Don't use vinegar on hardwood, tile or stone floors.
  • Don't use lemons, vinegar or abrasive cleaners on any stone floor, like marble or limestone.
  • Don't use bleach on wood floors or on tile floors with colored grout.

A lot of misinformation about how to clean floors is available online, so do your homework before you damage your floor. When in doubt, contact the manufacturer, a supplier for your flooring material or a contractor for professional advice.