Tips for cleaning ceramic, vinyl and wood floors in an environmentally friendly and inexpensive way
Regardless of what type of floor you are targeting during your spring cleaning, the first step is to remove solid dirt and debris. It is important not to skip straight to mopping, even if you feel like it could save you time on floors that are not very dirty, because this step will actually make the overall process shorter and easier. Adding water to dirty floors can create and spread mud, which necessitates extra scrubbing and frequent mop rinsing. Not only are large particles easier to remove when they are dry, but they can scratch your floor if they become stuck on a wet mop or cloth.
Whether you choose to use a cloth or a dry mop for this step, microfiber is your best option. This material attracts and locks in dirt, unlike a sponge or broom. If you prefer to use a vacuum and are cleaning wood floors, make sure that the beater bar is not down, because it can create scratches.
The wet phase of floor cleaning varies depending on floor type.
Ceramic Tile and Vinyl
It is easy, inexpensive and earth-friendly to get your ceramic and vinyl floors sparkly clean, because you don’t need to buy specialty products or use harsh chemicals. The experts at Martha Stewart online and HGTV.com both agree that all you really need to finish the job is warm water. If you want to alternate a deeper clean with your regular mopping, you can use vinyl cleaner diluted in water for vinyl flooring or diluted mild dish soap for ceramic.
If you do decide to use a cleaning product, be sure to wash it off with clean water afterwards to protect the floor and prevent buildup of irritating fumes. Thoroughly removing cleaners also ensures that you won’t be left with floors that are dangerously slippery or so sticky that they quickly become dirty again.
Microfiber cloths give you the most scrubbing power and control, which can speed up the process, but mops are definitely better for your back and knees. If you choose to use a mop, be sure to use a microfiber head and not a sponge, which can push grime directly into the grout.
If the microfiber cloth doesn’t sufficiently clean the grout, try a scrubbing brush before resorting to harsh chemicals like bleach. If the grout still appears stained after a thorough scrubbing, try using a folded piece of sandpaper or a pencil eraser to buff away the top layer. It is best not to use scouring agents or steel wool on your ceramic.
Warm water is also the choice of many professionals for cleaning wood floors, provided that they are properly sealed. If your floor is not properly sealed or if there are patches where the seal has rubbed or been scratched away, do not use water because it could seep in and cause warping or other damage. If you are unsure how your floor has been treated, purchase a cleaner specific to the type of wood floor you have. Most brands offer a floor cleaner designed for the types of flooring they offer, which is always a safe bet.
If you have determined that your floor is well sealed, use a damp (not wet) microfiber cloth and rub with the grain of the wood. It is easier to ensure that you are not using too much water with a cloth than with a mop.